Skip to main content

9 Virginia Woolf Quotes About Writing for Writers (and Readers)

In celebration of her birthday, here are nine Virginia Woolf quotes about writing, writers, and reading, pulled from two of her most well-known works, Orlando and A Room of One's Own.

While searching for these nine Virginia Woolf quotes, some poignant and some with her characteristic subtle humor, I flipped through all the books on my shelves dedicated to the early 20th-century writer. Just browsing through those books encourages a relapse of, what she calls in the second quote below, the "disease of reading." Now the question is, which Woolf book to revisit?

Virginia Woolf quotes

Green in nature is one thing, green in literature another. Nature and letters seem to have a natural antipathy; bring them together and they tear each other to pieces. The shade of green Orlando now saw spoilt his rhyme and split his meter. – Orlando

Read more about Virginia Woolf's writing style in this post by Jack Clemens.

Virginia Woolf quotes

For once the disease of reading has laid hold upon the system it weakens it so that it falls an easy prey to that other scourge which dwells in the ink pot and festers in the quill. The wretch takes to writing. – Orlando

Virginia Woolf quotes

Orlando, comparing that achievement with those of his ancestors, cried out that they and their deeds were dust and ashes, but this man and his words were immortal. – Orlando

Virginia Woolf quotes

For it would seem—her case proved it—that we write, not with the fingers, but with the whole person. The nerve which controls the pen winds itself about every fibre of our being, threads the heart, pierces the liver. – Orlando

Virginia Woolf quotes

But the living poets express a feeling that is actually being made and torn out of us at the moment. One does not recognize it in the first place; often for some reason one fears it; one watches it with keenness and compares it jealously and suspiciously with the old feeling that one knew. – A Room of One’s Own

Virginia Woolf quotes

Fiction must stick to facts, and the truer the facts the better the fiction—so we are told. – A Room of One’s Own

Virginia Woolf quotes

To Jane Austen there was something discreditable in writing Pride and Prejudice. And, I wondered, would Pride and Prejudice have been a better novel if Jane Austen has not thought it necessary to hide her manuscript from visitors? – A Room of One’s Own

Virginia Woolf quotes

Speaking crudely, football and sport are “important”; the worship of fashion, the buying of clothes “trivial.” And these values are inevitably transferred from life to fiction. This is an important book, the critic assumes, because it deals with war. This is an insignificant book because it deals with the feelings of women in the drawing room. A scene in a battlefield is more important than a scene in a shop—everywhere and much more subtly the difference of value persists. – A Room of One’s Own

So long as you write what you wish to write, that is all that matters; and whether it matters for the ages or only for hours, nobody can say. – A Room of One’s Own

Virginia Woolf quotes
Read Like a Writer: Learn from the Masters

Regardless of your genre (mystery, romance, horror, science fiction, fantasy, mainstream, or literary), you will hone your writing skills as a result of this class’ examination of the ways masters of the art and craft created intellectually and emotionally rich and compelling stories that became classics.

Click to continue.

From Script

Adapting True Crime and True Stories for Television (From Script)

In this week’s round up brought to us by Script magazine, exclusive interviews with writers and showrunners Robert Siegel and D.V. DeVincentis (“Pam & Tommy”), Patrick Macmanus and Liz Hannah (“The Girl from Plainville”) who both have taken creative liberties in adapting true stories for a limited series.

Chanel Cleeton: On Reader Enthusiasm Conjuring Novel Ideas

Chanel Cleeton: On Reader Enthusiasm Conjuring Novel Ideas

Author Chanel Cleeton discusses how reader curiosity led her to write her new historical fiction novel, Our Last Days in Barcelona.

Writer's Digest Interview | Marlon James Quote

The Writer's Digest Interview: Marlon James

Booker Prize–winning author Marlon James talks about mythology and world-building in his character-driven epic Moon Witch, Spider King, the second book in his Dark Star Trilogy in this interview from the March/April 2022 issue of Writer's Digest.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: New Podcast Episode, a Chance at Publication, and More!

This week, we're excited to announce our newest podcast episode, your chance to be published, and more!

David Adams Cleveland: On Truth Revealing Itself in Historical Fiction

David Adams Cleveland: On Truth Revealing Itself in Historical Fiction

Award-winning novelist David Adams Cleveland discusses the timeliness of his new novel, Gods of Deception.

Lisa Jewell | Writer's Digest Interview Quote

The WD Interview: Lisa Jewell

The New York Times-bestselling British author discusses creating thrilling plot twists and developing characters in her 19th novel, The Night She Disappeared, in this interview from the Jan/Feb 2022 issue of Writer's Digest.

5 Tips for Successfully Pitching Literary Agents in Person (That Worked for Me at the Writer’s Digest Annual Conference)

5 Tips for Successfully Pitching Literary Agents in Person (That Worked for Me at the Writer’s Digest Annual Conference)

Author Anat Deracine found her agent at Writer’s Digest Annual Conference. Now she’s sharing what she’s learned to help other writers become authors. Here are her 5 tips for successfully pitching literary agents in person.

Tips for Reading Poetry in Front of an Audience

8 Tips for Reading Your Poetry in Front of an Audience

Poet's Market editor and published poet Robert Lee Brewer shares eight tips for reading your poetry in front of an audience.

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Strength Lost

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Strength Lost

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, let a character lose their powers.