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 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."
"Prose is architecture, not interior decoration."
"It's none of their business that you have to learn to write. Let them think you were born that way."
"Most writers regard the truth as their most valuable possession, and therefore are most economical in its use."
"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."
"To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme."
"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."
"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."
"A blank piece of paper is God's way of telling us how hard it to be God."
"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."
"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."
"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!"
"Most of the basic material a writer works with is acquired before the age of fifteen."
"I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by."
"Words are a lens to focus one's mind."
"Poetry creates the myth, the prose writer draws its portrait."
"A writer without interest or sympathy for the foibles of his fellow man is not conceivable as a writer."
"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."
"Half my life is an act of revision."
"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."
"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."
"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."
"A word is dead
When it is said,
I say it just begins
to live that day."
"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."
"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."
"There's no money in poetry, but then there's no poetry in money either."
"It is the writer who might catch the imagination of young people, and plant a seed that will flower and come to fruition."
"The work never matches the dream of perfection the artist has to start with."
"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."
"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."
"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."
"Literature is all, or mostly, about sex."
"Writers are always selling somebody out."
"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."
"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."
"Everywhere I go I'm asked if I think the university stifles writers. My opinion is that they don't stifle enough of them."
"I can't write five words but that I change seven."
"There's no such thing as writer's block. That was invented by people in California who couldn't write."
"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."
"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."
"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."
"Fiction is about stuff that's screwed up."
"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."
"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."
"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."
"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."
"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."
"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."