Inspirational Writing Quotes from Famous Authors

Looking for famous writing quotes? Writer’s Digest has compiled our editors’ favorite quotes about writing to help inspire writers everywhere. Whether you’re a fiction writer, nonfiction writer, or poet, these inspirational quotes on writing will put the pen back in your hand with renewed passion.

Find Stephen King quotes on writing, Ernest Hemingway quotes on writing, and creative writing quotes from other famous authors such as Mark Twain, William Shakespeare, and Henry David Thoreau amongst other famous writer quotes. So put the pen down for a moment, step away from they keyboard, and soak in these eclectic author quotes on writing.

I try to create sympathy for my characters, then turn the monsters loose.
- Stephen King

 

Prose is architecture, not interior decoration.
- Ernest Hemingway

 

It’s none of their business that you have to learn to write. Let them think you were born that way.
- Ernest Hemingway

 

Most writers regard the truth as their most valuable possession, and therefore are most economical in its use.
- Mark Twain

 

And as imagination bodies forth
The forms of things unknown, the poet’s pen
Turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name.
- William Shakespeare (from A Midsummer Night’s Dream)

 

If you can tell stories, create characters, devise incidents, and have sincerity and passion, it doesn’t matter a damn how you write.
- Somerset Maugham

 

To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme.
- Herman Melville

 

It is perfectly okay to write garbage—as long as you edit brilliantly.
- C. J. Cherryh

 

It took me fifteen years to discover I had no talent for writing, but I couldn’t give it up because by that time I was too famous.
- Robert Benchley

 

Any man who keeps working is not a failure. He may not be a great writer, but if he applies the old-fashioned virtues of hard, constant labor, he’ll eventually make some kind of career for himself as writer.
- Ray Bradbury

 

A blank piece of paper is God’s way of telling us how hard it to be God.
- Sidney Sheldon

 

Not that the story need be long, but it will take a long while to make it short.
- Henry David Thoreau

 

If you have other things in your life—family, friends, good productive day work—these can interact with your writing and the sum will be all the richer.
- David Brin

 

My own experience is that once a story has been written, one has to cross out the beginning and the end. It is there that we authors do most of our lying.
- Anton Chekhov

 

I have been successful probably because I have always realized that I knew nothing about writing and have merely tried to tell an interesting story entertainingly.
- Edgar Rice Burroughs

 

First, find out what your hero wants, then just follow him!
- Ray Bradbury

 

Most of the basic material a writer works with is acquired before the age of fifteen.
- Willa Cather

 

I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.
- Douglas Adams

 

Words are a lens to focus one’s mind.
- Ayn Rand

 

Poetry creates the myth, the prose writer draws its portrait.
- Jean-Paul Sartre

 

A writer without interest or sympathy for the foibles of his fellow man is not conceivable as a writer.
- Joseph Conrad

 

Science fiction writers, I am sorry to say, really do not know anything.
- Philip K. Dick

 

The only thing I was fit for was to be a writer, and this notion rested solely on my suspicion that I would never be fit for real work, and that writing didn’t require any.
- Russell Baker

 

Half my life is an act of revision.
- John Irving

 

People on the outside think there’s something magical about writing, that you go up in the attic at midnight and cast the bones and come down in the morning with a story, but it isn’t like that. You sit in back of the typewriter and you work, and that’s all there is to it.
- Harlan Ellison

 

People do not deserve to have good writing, they are so pleased with bad.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

I went for years not finishing anything. Because, of course, when you finish something you can be judged.
- Erica Jong

 

Don’t try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It’s the one and only thing you have to offer.
- Barbara Kingsolver

 

A word is dead
When it is said,
Some say.
I say it just begins
to live that day.
- Emily Dickinson

 

Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.
- E. L. Doctorow

 

Get it down. Take chances. It may be bad, but it’s the only way you can do anything really good.
- William Faulkner

 

I am irritated by my own writing. I am like a violinist whose ear is true, but whose fingers refuse to reproduce precisely the sound he hears within.
- Gustave Flaubert

 

There’s no money in poetry, but then there’s no poetry in money either.
- Robert Graves

 

It is the writer who might catch the imagination of young people, and plant a seed that will flower and come to fruition.
- Isaac Asimov

 

The work never matches the dream of perfection the artist has to start with.
- William Faulkner

 

Begin with an individual, and before you know it you have created a type; begin with a type, and you find you have created – nothing.
- F. Scott Fitzgerald

 

Writing is its own reward.
- Henry Miller

 

The unread story is not a story; it is little black marks on wood pulp. The reader, reading it, makes it live: a live thing, a story.
- Ursula K. Le Guin

 

Almost anyone can be an author; the business is to collect money and fame from this state of being.
- A. A. Milne

 

A wounded deer leaps the highest.
- Emily Dickinson

 

Only in men’s imagination does every truth find an effective and undeniable existence. Imagination, not invention, is the supreme master of art as of life.
- Joseph Conrad

 

Literature is all, or mostly, about sex.
- Anthony Burgess

 

Writers are always selling somebody out.
- Joan Didion

 

Anecdotes don’t make good stories. Generally I dig down underneath them so far that the story that finally comes out is not what people thought their anecdotes were about.
- Alice Munro

 

You learn by writing short stories. Keep writing short stories. The money’s in novels, but writing short stories keeps your writing lean and pointed.
- Larry Niven

 

Everywhere I go I’m asked if I think the university stifles writers. My opinion is that they don’t stifle enough of them.
- Flannery O’Connor

 

I can’t write five words but that I change seven.
- Dorothy Parker

 

There’s no such thing as writer’s block. That was invented by people in California who couldn’t write.
- Terry Pratchett

 

Writing is not necessarily something to be ashamed of, but do it in private and wash your hands afterwards.
- Robert A. Heinlein

 

The more closely the author thinks of why he wrote, the more he comes to regard his imagination as a kind of self-generating cement which glued his facts together, and his emotions as a kind of dark and obscure designer of those facts. Reluctantly, he comes to the conclusion that to account for his book is to account for his life.
- Richard Wright

 

No one can write decently who is distrustful of the reader’s intelligence or whose attitude is patronizing.
- E. B. White

 

A poet can survive everything but a misprint.
- Oscar Wilde

 

Rejection slips, or form letters, however tactfully phrased, are lacerations of the soul, if not quite inventions of the devil—but there is no way around them.
- Isaac Asimov

 

Fiction is about stuff that’s screwed up.
- Nancy Kress

 

In general…there’s no point in writing hopeless novels. We all know we’re going to die; what’s important is the kind of men and women we are in the face of this.
-Anne Lamott

 

Great is the art of beginning, but greater is the art of ending.
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

 

Tell the readers a story! Because without a story, you are merely using words to prove you can string them together in logical sentences.
- Anne McCaffrey

 

If science fiction is the mythology of modern technology, then its myth is tragic.
- Ursula K. Le Guin

 

All the information you need can be given in dialogue.
- Elmore Leonard

 

Everybody walks past a thousand story ideas every day. The good writers are the ones who see five or six of them. Most people don’t see any.
- Orson Scott Card

 

All the words I use in my stories can be found in the dictionary—it’s just a matter of arranging them into the right sentences.
- Somerset Maugham

 

Exercise the writing muscle every day, even if it is only a letter, notes, a title list, a character sketch, a journal entry. Writers are like dancers, like athletes. Without that exercise, the muscles seize up.
- Jane Yolen

 

If you write one story, it may be bad; if you write a hundred, you have the odds in your favor.
- Edgar Rice Burroughs

 

Finishing a book is just like you took a child out in the back yard and shot it.
- Truman Capote