Inspirational Writing Quotes from Famous Authors

Put the pen down and find new inspiration with famous quotes about writing from some of your favorite authors including Stephen King, Ernest Hemingway, etc.
Author:
Publish date:

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.

(8 James Patterson Quotes for Writers and About Writing)

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 the keyboard, and soak in these eclectic author quotes on writing.

Inspirational Writing Quotes from Famous Authors

"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

(10 John Sandford Quotes on Writing and for Writers)

"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

(7 Toni Morrison Quotes for Writers and About Writing)

"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

(10 Edgar Allan Poe Quotes for Writers and About Writing)

"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

Inspirational Writing Quotes from Famous Authors

"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

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

"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

Getting Started in Writing

When you take this online writing workshop, you'll discover your voice, learn the basics of grammar and examine the different types of writing. No matter what type of writing you're planning on crafting—nonfiction or fiction—you'll need guidance along the way.

Click to continue.

e.g. vs. i.e. (Grammar Rules)

e.g. vs. i.e. (Grammar Rules)

Let's look at the differences between e.g. and i.e. with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.

20 Authors Share Their Biggest Surprise in the Writing Process

20 Authors Share Their Biggest Surprises in the Writing Process

Experienced writers know to expect the unexpected. Here are surprises in the writing process from 20 authors, including Amanda Jayatissa, Paul Neilan, Kristin Hannah, and Robert Jones, Jr.

Ruth Hogan: On Infusing Personal Interests in Fiction

Ruth Hogan: On Infusing Personal Interests in Fiction

Author Ruth Hogan discusses the process of learning a new skill in writing her new novel, The Moon, The Stars and Madame Burova.

Do You Find an Editor or Agent First?

Do You Find an Editor or Agent First?

It's a common question asked by writers looking to get their first book published: Do you find an editor or agent first? The answer depends on each writer's situation.

writer's digest wd presents

WDU Presents: 7 New WDU Courses, a Chance at Publication, and More!

This week, we’re excited to announce seven new WDU courses, a chance at publication, and more!

What Is a Professional Editor and Why Should Writers Use One?

What Is a Professional Editor and Why Should Writers Use One?

Editor is a very broad term in the publishing industry that can mean a variety of things. Tiffany Yates Martin reveals what a professional editor is and why writers should consider using one.

From Script

How to Find the Right Reader for Feedback, Writing Female Characters and Tapping into Emotionally Authentic Characters (From Script)

In this week’s round up brought to us by Script Magazine, read film reviews from Tom Stemple, part three of writing female characters, interviews with Free Guy scribes Zak Penn and Matt Lieberman, The Eyes of Tammy Faye screenwriter Abe Sylvia, and more!

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Chasing Trends

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Chasing Trends

The Writer's Digest team has witnessed many writing mistakes over the years, so this series helps identify them for other writers (along with correction strategies). This week's writing mistake is chasing trends in writing and publishing.

Lessons Learned From Self-Publishing My Picture Book

Lessons Learned From Self-Publishing My Picture Book

Author Dawn Secord shares her journey toward self-publishing a picture book featuring her Irish Setter named Bling.