You don’t write because you want to say something; you write because you’ve got something to say.
—F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896–1940) American Novelist
The style of an author should be the image of his mind, but the choice and command of language is the fruit of exercise.
—Edward Gibbon (1737–94) English Historian, Politician
Writing is both mask and unveiling.
—E. B. White (1985–99) American Essayist, Humorist
Good authors, too, who once knew better words now only use four-letter words writing prose… anything goes.
—Cole Porter (1892–1964) American Composer, Lyricist
If you want to get rich from writing, write the sort of thing that’s read by persons who move their lips when they’re reading to themselves.
—Don Marquis (1878–1937) American Humorist, Journalist, Author
Nothing comes easily. My work smells of sweat.
—Eric Hoffer (1902–83) American Philosopher, Author
There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.
—W. Somerset Maugham (1874–1965) British Novelist, Short-Story Writer, Playwright
If you want to be a writer-stop talking about it and sit down and write!
—Jackie Collins (1937–2015) English Romance Novelist
Everywhere I go I’m asked if I think the university stifles writers. My opinion is that they don’t stifle enough of them. There’s many a bestseller that could have been prevented by a good teacher.
—Flannery O’Connor (1925–1964) American Novelist
The wastebasket is a writer’s best friend.
—Isaac Bashevis Singer (1902–91) Polish-born American Children’s Books Writer, Novelist, Short Story Writer
Good novels are not written by orthodoxy-sniffers, nor by people who are conscience-stricken about their own orthodoxy. Good novels are written by people who are not frightened.
—George Orwell (1903–50) English Novelist, Journalist
Words—so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them.
—Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804–64) American Novelist, Short Story Writer
As in political, so in literary action, a man wins friends for himself mostly by the passion of his prejudices.
—Joseph Conrad (1857–1924) Polish-born British Novelist
Henry James was one of the nicest old ladies I ever met.
—William Faulkner (1897–1962) American Novelist
They can’t yank a novelist like they can a pitcher. A novelist has to go the full nine, even if it kills him.
—Ernest Hemingway (1899–1961) American Author, Journalist, Short Story Writer
Every word born of an inner necessity – writing must never be anything else.
—Etty Hillesum (1914–43) Jewish Diarist
You must often make erasures if you mean to write what is worthy of being read a second time; and don’t labor for the admiration of the crowd, but be content with a few choice readers.
—Horace (Quintus Horatius Flaccus) (65–8 BCE) Roman Poet
Now the writer, I think, has the chance to live more than other people in the presence of … reality. It is his business to find it and collect it and communicate it to the rest of us.
—Virginia Woolf (1882–1941) English Novelist
Writing is a question of finding a certain rhythm. I compare it to the rhythms of jazz. Much of the time life is a sort of rhythmic progression of three characters. If one tells oneself that life is like that, one feels it less arbitrary.
—Francoise Sagan (1935–2004) French Novelist, Playwright, Short-Story Writer
There is no royal path to good writing; and such paths as do exist do not lead through neat critical gardens, various as they are, but through the jungles of self, the world, and of craft.
I like to write when I feel spiteful. It is like having a good sneeze.
—D. H. Lawrence (1885–1930) English Novelist, Playwright, Poet, Essayist, Literary Critic
I would hurl words into this darkness and wait for an echo, and if an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight, to create a sense of hunger for life that gnaws in us all.
—Richard Wright (1908–1960) American Novelist, Short-Story Writer
The only way out is the way through, just as you cannot escape from death except by dying. Being unable to write, you must examine in writing this being unable, which becomes for the present—henceforth?—the subject to which you are condemned.
—Howard Nemerov (1920–91) American Poet, Novelist, Playwright
To me, the greatest pleasure of writing is not what it’s about, but the inner music that words make.
—Truman Capote (1924–84) American Novelist
Fool! said my Muse to me, “look in thy heart and write.”
—Philip Sidney (1554–86) English Soldier Poet, Courtier
Work on good prose has three steps: a musical stage when it is composed, an architectonic one when it is built, and a textile one when it is woven.
It is quite as much of a trade to make a book, as to make a clock.—It requires more than mere genius to be an author.
—Jean de La Bruyere (1645–96) French Satiric Moralist, Author
To note an artist’s limitations is but to define his talent. A reporter can write equally well about everything that is presented to his view, but a creative writer can do his best only with what lies within the range and character of his deepest sympathies.
—Willa Cather (1873–1947) American Novelist, Writer
I was in a queer mood, thinking myself very old: but now I am a woman again—as I always am when I write.
—Virginia Woolf (1882–1941) English Novelist
No man should ever publish a book until he has first read it to a woman.
—Van Wyck Brooks (1886–1963) American Literary Critic, Biographer, Historian