Writing Quotes

This is a growing list of my favorite writing quotes.
Check back often for new entries which I'll add to the bottom of the list.
If you have a quote you'd like to share please email it to me.
   

 "The sound of a word is at least as important as the meaning."     Jack Prelutsky

"Love the writing, love the writing, love the writing . . . the rest will follow."     Jane Yolen 

"Sure, it's simple, writing for kids . . .
Just as simple as bringing them up."    Ursula K. LeGuin 

"You write to be read. That is the bottom line."     Jane Yolen

"You must write for children in the same way
as you do for adults, only better."    
Maxim Gorky

"Most new writers think it's easy to write for children, but it's not.
You have to get in a beginning, middle and end, tell a great story,
write well, not be condescending--all in a few pages."     
                                                                                Andrea Brown 

"Three Rules for Literary Success: 1. Read a lot.
2. Write a lot. 3. Read a lot more, write a lot more."    
                                                                    Robert Silverberg

"Quantity produces quality. If you only write a few things, you're doomed."     Ray Bradbury

"It is better to write a bad first draft than to write no first draft at all."     Will Shetterly

"The difference between the right word and the almost right word
is the difference between lightning and lightening bug."   
                                                                                          Mark Twain


          "As to the adjective: when in doubt, strike it out."     Mark Twain

"Don't say the old lady screamed--bring her on and let her scream."     Mark Twain  
          
          
"Don't tell me the moon is shining;
           show me the glint of light on broken glass."     Anton Chekhov
                                                                                             
          
          
"The best children's book writers are not people who have  kids, but people who write from the child within themselves." 
                                                                                              Andrea Brown 

"The most important advice I would suggest to beginning writers: Try to leave out the parts that readers skip."     
                                                                              Elmore Leonard

"Nouns are the bones that give a sentence body.
But verbs are the muscles that make it go."     Mervin Block

          "While writing, you’re weary,
          Your eyes growing bleary.
          Rejected, you’re teary,
          But sales make you cheery;
          So craft a good query,
          And best of luck dearie!"     
Marvin Terban


"Good writing is clear thinking made visible."     Bill Wheeler

"A manuscript: something submitted in haste and returned at leisure."     Oliver Hereford

 

"A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit."  Richard Bach                                                                                           

          "Good things come to those who wait...and wait,
          and wait, and wait, and wait, and..." 
                 Anonymous (An author waiting to hear from a publisher?)
  
    

"What is the ultimate insult? Getting a paper cut from a rejection letter!"     Amy McQuade

"This manuscript of yours that has just come back from another editor is a precious package. Don’t consider it rejected. Consider that you’ve addressed it ‘to the editor who can appreciate my work’ and it has simply come back stamped ‘not at this address.’ Just keep looking for the right address."     Barbara Kingsolver

 

"A rejection slip is like a wad of used toilet paper:
it really stinks, but it shows you there’s more work to be done
."
                                                                                        Lynn T. Fazenbaker


           "Anyone can become a writer. The trick is staying a writer."    Harlan Ellison

  
"The most valuable of talents is never using two words when one will do."     Thomas Jefferson 

           "The difference between fiction and reality? 
           Fiction has to make sense."     
Tom Clancy

"If you tell me, it's an essay. If you show me, it's a story."
                                                                                    Barbara Greene

          "Cut out all those exclamation marks.
          An exclamation mark is like laughing at your own joke."
                                                                                         F. Scott Fitzgerald

"You only learn to be a better writer by writing. I don't know much about creative writing programs. But they're not telling the truth if they don't teach, one, that writing is hard work and, two, that you have to give up a great deal of life, your personal life, to be a writer."     Doris Lessing

          "Put it before them briefly so they will read it, clearly so they will appreciate it, picturesquely so they will remember it, and above all, accurately so they will be guided by its light."     Joseph Pulitzer
  

"I have found that a story leaves a deeper impression when it is impossible to tell which side the author is on."     Leo Tolstoy

         
"Easy-to-read is hard to write."     Pam Zollman

"Writing is rewriting. A writer must learn to deepen characters, trim writing, intensify scenes. To fall in love with the first draft to the point where one cannot change it is to greatly enhance the prospects of never publishing."     Richard North Patterson
  

          "Writing is seeing. It is paying attention."     Kate DiCamillo

"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend.
Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read!"    Groucho Marx

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

"Successful writers are not the ones who write the best sentences. They are the ones who keep writing. They are the ones who discover what is most important and strangest and most pleasurable in themselves, and keep believing in the value of their work, despite the difficulties."     Bonnie Friedman
  

          "I am convinced . . . that fine writing is, next to fine doing, 
          the top thing in the world."     John Keats

"Adjectives, like adverbs, are lazy words, slowpokes, tranquilizers.
Watch out for them."     Jack M. Bickham

         
"If you’re going to be a writer, the first essential is just to write.
Do not wait for an idea. Start writing something and the ideas will come. You have to turn the faucet on before the water starts to flow."     
Louis L’Amour
 

 "If you wish to be a writer, write."     Epictetus

          "If writing is your practice, the only way to fail is not to write."
                                                                                                          Gail Sher

"The only thing that works with writing is that you care so passionately about it yourself, that you make someone else care passionately about it."     Judy Blume

         
"This morning I took out a comma, 
          and this afternoon I put it back again."     
Oscar Wilde

"I think you become a writer when you stop writing for yourself
or your teachers and start thinking about readers."     Avi 
  

          "Number one rule for fiction: Coincidence can be used to worsen a character's predicament, but never to solve his problems."
                                                                                     Vivian Vande Velde 

"Getting published is a combination of determination and luck."
                                                                                          Mark Bowden  

         
"What is written without effort is, in general, read without pleasure."     Samuel Johnson

"The ABC's of quality writing: Accuracy, Brevity & Clarity"
                                                                                      Source unknown

          "A good writer needs to have that extra special something like humor or an extraordinary voice."     Krista Marino

"Work at your craft, write daily, and follow your dreams
because dreams do come true."     Christopher Paul Curtis

 
          "You are not a hundred dollar bill. Not everyone is going to      like you or your story. Do not take rejection personally."     
                                                                                                  Meg Cabot

"It's misleading to think of writers as special creatures, word sorcerers who possess some sort of magical knowledge hidden from everyone else. Writers are ordinary people who like to write. They feel the urge to write, and they scratch that itch every chance they get."     Ralph Fletcher

         
"Don't think it, ink it."     Mark Hansen

"Words are the soul's ambassadors, who go 
Abroad upon her errands to and fro."
                                                               James Howell, writer (c. 1594-1666)

          "Like everyone else, I am going to die. But the words--the        words live on for as long as there are readers to see them, audiences to hear them. It is immortality by proxy. It is not really a bad deal, all things considered."     J. Michael Straczynski

"Rejected pieces aren't failures; unwritten pieces are."
                                                                                       Greg Daugherty
  

          "Great stories make the world more colorful, more vivid, more  alive--they make the reader's world a bigger place while at the same time making the human circle closer and cozier."     Linda Sue Park

"If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that."     Stephen King

          "Being a writer is like having homework every night for the rest of your life."     Lawrence Kasdan

"Tape the word 'SPECIFIC' to the top of your computer.
Specific details make the story become alive."     Dori Chaconas


          "Children's books change lives. Stories pour into the hearts of children and help make them what they become."    Jane Yolen

"I tend to basically exaggerate in life, and in writing, it's fine to exaggerate. I really enjoy overstating for the purpose of getting a laugh. For another thing, writing is easier than digging ditches. Well, actually that's an exaggeration. It isn't."
                                                                Theodor Geisel (aka Dr. Seuss)

  

          "There are three rules for writing a novel.
          Unfortunately, no one knows what they are."   
                                                                               
W. Somerset Maugham

"When we are writing, or painting, or composing, we are, during the time of creativity, freed from normal restrictions, and are opened to a wider world, where colors are brighter, sounds clearer, and people more wondrously complex than we normally realize."    
                                                                               
Madeleine L'Engle

          "What I like in a good author isn't what he says, but what he whispers."    
Logan Pearsall Smith

"There are a thousand thoughts lying within a man that he does not know
till he takes up a pen to write."    William Makepeace Thackeray

 
          "The first draft is a skeleton....just bare bones.
          The rest of the story comes later with revising."     Judy Blume

"If you stuff yourself full of poems, essays, plays, stories, novels, films, comic strips, magazines, music, you automatically explode every morning like Old Faithful. I have never had a dry spell in my life, mainly because I feed myself well, to the point of bursting. I wake early and hear my morning voices leaping around in my head like jumping beans. I get out of bed to trap them before they escape."     Ray Bradbury

          "I hear and I forget;
          I see and I remember;
          I write and I understand."     Chinese Proverb

"A writer is like a bag lady going through life with a sack
and a pointed stick collecting stuff."     Tony Hillerman         
 


"The best kind of writing, and the biggest thrill in writing,
is to suddenly read a line from your typewriter that you
didn't know was in you."     
Larry L. King

          "Ideas are the cheapest part of the writing. They are free!
          The hard part is what you do with the ideas you've gathered."
                                                                                                         Jane Yolen

"The best books come from someplace deep inside.... Become emotionally involved. If you don't care about your characters, your readers won't either."      Judy Blume

         
"Good stories are not written. They are rewritten."
                                                                                            Phyllis Whitney


"Perfecting and selling your writing is a lifelong task. If you are a persistent writer you can expect your abilities to improve with time. Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm."     Winston Churchill

          "Ideas are living things--have respect for them and
          give them time to grow. Let them lead you."     Elise Primavera

"Good children’s stories do not preach. Instead, they educate for life, by exploring significant themes—as do good adult stories."
                                                                                              Aaron Shepard

     "Writing a picture book is like writing ‘War and Peace’ in Haiku." Mem Fox

"It is as easy to dream a book as it is hard to write one."
                                                                             Honore de Balzac


          "It's never too late--in fiction or in life--to revise."
                                                                                       Nancy Thayer

"A plot without action is like pasta without garlic, like Dolly Parton without cleavage, and like a writer without his similes."
                                                                                      Dean Koontz


          "Writing is the mine shaft to the soul."     Peter Baird

"I'm not a very good writer, but I'm an excellent rewriter."
                                                                         James Michener
   
       

          "Children's books change lives. Stories pour into the hearts of children and help make them what they become."   Jane Yolen

                                              

"I tend to basically exaggerate in life, and in writing, it's fine to exaggerate. I really enjoy overstating for the purpose of getting a laugh. For another thing, writing is easier than digging ditches. Well, actually that's an exaggeration. It isn't." ~
Theodor Geisel (aka Dr. Seuss)


"There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are." W. Somerset Maugham


"When we are writing, or painting, or composing, we are, during the time of creativity, freed from normal restrictions, and are opened to a wider world, where colors are brighter, sounds clearer, and people more wondrously complex than we normally realize."
Madeleine L'Engle

"What I like in a good author isn't what he says, but what he whispers."  Logan Pearsall Smith

"There are a thousand thoughts lying within a man that he does not know till he takes up a pen to write." William Makepeace Thackeray

"The first draft is a skeleton....just bare bones.

The rest of the story comes later with revising." Judy Blume

"If you stuff yourself full of poems, essays, plays, stories, novels, films, comic strips, magazines, music, you automatically explode every morning like Old Faithful. I have never had a dry spell in my life, mainly because I feed myself well, to the point of bursting. I wake early and hear my morning voices leaping around in my head like jumping beans. I get out of bed to trap them before they escape." Ray Bradbury


"I hear and I forget;
I see and I remember;
I write and I understand." Chinese Proverb

"A writer is like a bag lady going through life with a sack

and a pointed stick collecting stuff." Tony Hillerman


"The best kind of writing, and the biggest thrill in writing, is to suddenly read a line from your typewriter that you didn't know was in you." Larry L. King


"Ideas are the cheapest part of the writing. They are free! The hard part is what you do with the ideas you've gathered." Jane Yolen

"The best books come from someplace deep inside.... Become emotionally involved. If you don't care about your characters, your readers won't either." Judy Blume

"Good stories are not written. They are rewritten." Phyllis Whitney

"Perfecting and selling your writing is a lifelong task. If you are a persistent writer you can expect your abilities to improve with time. Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm." Winston Churchill

"Ideas are living things--have respect for them and give them time to grow. Let them lead you." Elise Primavera

"Good children’s stories do not preach. Instead, they educate for life, by exploring significant themes—as do good adult stories." Aaron Shepard


"Writing a picture book is like writing ‘War and Peace’ in Haiku." Mem Fox

"It is as easy to dream a book as it is hard to write one."
Honore de Balzac

"It's never too late--in fiction or in life--to revise." Nancy Thayer

"A plot without action is like pasta without garlic, like Dolly Parton without cleavage, and like a writer without his similes." Dean Koontz

"Writing is the mine shaft to the soul." Peter Baird

"I'm not a very good writer, but I'm an excellent rewriter."
James Michener

 

“Authors are writers who don’t give up.” Richard Bach

“Creativity is God’s gift to you. What you do with it is your gift to God.” Bob Moawad

“My task which I am trying to achieve is, by the power of the written word, to make you feel--it is above all, to make you see. That--and no more, and it is everything.” Joseph Conrad

“The words you use and choose not to use do not merely describe reality, they create it.” James Slezak

“Beware of bad books that offer children neither the opportunity to discover the rich sound of words nor the chance to conjure up their own pictures.” Louis Slobodkin

“The two factors most responsible for giving a child the belief that he or she can make a significant contribution to life are parents/teachers and literature.” Bruno Bettelheim

“Spontaneous is what you get after the seventeenth draft.”
John Ciardi

“A writer's voice is not character alone, it is not style alone; it is far more. A writer's voice like the stroke of an artist's brush--is the thumbprint of her whole person--her idea, wit, humor, passions, rhythms.” Patricia Lee Gauch


"Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water." Kurt Vonnegut

“All meaning, in the best fiction, comes from—as Faulkner said—the heart in conflict with itself.” John Gardner

"Our instinct as human beings is to provide answers, to ease tension. As writers our job is the opposite, to create tension and not dispel it immediately." Sol Stein

"Plot conflict is not conflict merely in a character's mind or soul, while he sits at home. A plot conflict has to be expressed in action. The more struggle a story involves, the better the plot." Ayn Rand

"If there is no possibility for change in a character, we have no interest in him." Flannery O'Connor

“Stories arrive in the head in order to be told.” John Berger


"If there is no possibility for change in a character, we have no interest in him." Flannery O'Connor

“Stories arrive in the head in order to be told.” John Berger

“Children’s books represent our first encounters with literature, in which we hear words used beautifully and tune ourselves to the rhythms of our language.” John Cech

"Writing came easy -- it would only get hard when I got better at it." Garry Willis

“A plot is the web we weave to snare the reader and lead him exactly where were want him to go--to the heart of the story and out again.” ~ Marileta Robinson

"You have to write a lot. And you have to rewrite what you wrote a lot more." ~ Holly Black


“Try to enjoy the writing itself. Don't even think about publication. Just focus on making every sentence, every paragraph, every page the very best you can make it. Then, rewrite, rewrite, rewrite until the work is even better!” ~ Suzanne Lieurance

“I look at my work and make up my mind about it. After that, neither flattery nor criticism matters to me.” ~ Georgia O’Keeffe

“The only writers who are NOT receiving rejection letters on a regular basis are those writers who are not submitting queries, articles, stories, or book proposals on a regular basis. Rejection is just part of the business of writing.” ~ Suzanne Lieurance

"I am more and more convinced that when a writer reaches the stage when he can ruthlessly eliminate whole phrases and paragraphs without feeling he's cutting off chunks of his heart, he's passed one of the most important milestones in the business. Falling in love with your own words is an untenable luxury, fatal as well as foolish." ~ Nancy Moore

"A writer either speaks to adults and bores kids, or speaks to kids and upsets adults." ~ Ursula K. LeGuin

“Rewriting is the essence of writing well: it’s where the game is won or lost. The idea is hard to accept. We all have an emotional equity in our first draft; we can’t believe that it wasn’t born perfect. But the odds are close to 100 percent that it wasn’t.” ~ William Zinzer

“The beginning is the most important part of any work.” ~ Plato


"People sometimes ask me when I'm going to write a 'real' book - for adults. I give them a big smile and tell them, 'When my stories are no longer good enough for children, then I'll write for adults.” 
Verla Kay

"You have to live life if you're going to create believable lives on paper." ~ Donna Jo Napoli


"All writing is communication; creative writing is communication through revelation—it is the Self escaping into the open." 
E.B. White

"Real writers get rejected." ~ Terry Miller Shannon

"Every writer I know has trouble writing." ~ Joseph Heller

"Good writing is bad writing that was rewritten." ~ Marc Raibert

"Remember, the harder you work, the luckier you get." 
Sheldon Fogelman


"One of the hardest things to do as a writer (I think) is to make your main character, the one you love so much, suffer. In my opinion, for this reason, more than any other, writing is really, really difficult." ~ Ann Gonzalez


"Writing isn't just on the page; it's voices in the reader's head. Read what you write out loud to someone—anyone—and you will catch all kinds of things.”  Donna Jo Napoli

"Writing is hard work, and fun, and requires you to keep your backside in a chair when you would sometimes like to put it elsewhere. So the only wisdom is the advice to keep at it, I guess." ~ Lois Lowry

“Real courage is when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway.” ~ Harper Lee

“The act of writing is an act of optimism. You would not take the trouble to do it if you felt it didn't matter.” ~ Edward Albee

"Write with nouns and verbs, not with adjectives and adverbs. The adjective hasn't been built that can pull a weak or inaccurate noun out of a tight place." ~ William Strunk and E.B. White
 

“Lady Luck generally woos those who earnestly, enthusiastically, unremittingly woo her.” ~ B.C. Forbes

"Wait as much time between revisions as possible. Just close the document. Resist that urge to open it and read your wonderful opening page just one more time. Seriously. Resist it." ~ P.J. Hoover
 

“Better to do something imperfectly than to do nothing flawlessly.” ~ Robert Schuller

“Vitality shows in not only the ability to persist but the ability to start over.”~ F. Scott Fitzgerald



“Imagination is more important than knowledge.” ~ Albert Einstein

"Don't get it right, just get it written" ~ James Thurber
 

"Sit down and put down everything that comes into your head and then you're a writer. But an author is one who can judge his own stuff's worth, without pity, and destroy most of it."
~ Sidonie Gabrielle

"The ending has to fit. The ending has to matter, and make sense. I could care less about whether it's happy or sad or atomic. The ending is the place where you go, "Aha. Of course. That's right."" ~ Carrie Jones


"It's ALWAYS a better choice to write a new book than it is to keep pounding your head against the submissions wall with a book that's just not happening. The next book you write could be THE book, the one that isn't a fight to get representation for at all." ~ Diana Peterfreund

“A picture book is a motorcycle: small, loud, fun, and zippy.

An easy reader is a chartered bus: obliged to carry a rather dull passenger roster of sanctioned curriculum, plus the baggage of an approved, limited vocabulary. The trick is to design your chartered bus to be as cool and sexy as a motorcycle.” ~Mo Willems

“Writing children's books is not only not easy, it is very, very hard.” ~ J. Steven York

"You have to love writing, but more importantly, you have to love learning to write better." ~ Jim Averback

"Every now and then go away...for when you come back to your
work your judgment will be surer." ~ Leonardo da Vinci

“We have not passed that subtle line between childhood and adulthood until we move from the passive voice to the active voice - that is, until we have stopped saying 'It got lost,' and say, 'I lost it.’” ~ Sydney J. Harris

"The profession of book writing makes horse racing seem like a solid, stable business." ~ John Steinbeck

"Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities. Truth isn't." ~ Mark Twain

"In writing fiction, the more fantastic the tale, the plainer the prose should be. Don't ask your readers to admire your words when you want them to believe your story." ~ Ben Bova

"The cat sat on the mat is not a story. The cat sat on the other cat's mat is a story." ~ John LeCarre

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

"A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people." ~ Thomas Mann

"The discipline of the writer is to learn to be still and listen to what his subject has to tell him." ~ Rachel Carson

"The adjective is the enemy of the noun." ~ Voltaire

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

". . . the person who gets the most rejection letters will, in the end, get the most acceptance phone calls. She's put herself out there. She's learning from the editorial responses. She's writing away. She's believing in herself." ~ Gail Carson Levine

"DO NOT attempt to bring up other people's children through your text." ~ Mem Fox

“If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second greatest favor you can do for them is to present them with copies of 'The Elements of Style'. The first greatest, of course, is to shoot them now, while they're happy." ~ Dorothy Parker

"In my opinion, page one should have some element that things are changing and action must be taken." ~ Linda Robertson

“Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work.” ~ Aristotle



© 2004-2007 Charline Profiri All rights reserved.
No part of this website may be reproduced without the express permission of the owner.
Counting Little Geckos illustrations (c) 2004 Sherry Rogers.

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