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Quotations About Writing and Creativity

(I love to collect quotes, especially about writing.)

“Tell me a story’ still comprise four of the most powerful words in English.’’ – Pat Conroy

“There’s nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.’’ — Red Smith

“Easy reading is damn hard writing.’’ — Nathaniel Hawthorne

“To me, the greatest pleasure of writing is not what it’s about, but the inner music the words make.” — Truman Capote

“Nulla dies sine linea. Never a day without a line.” – Horace

“Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights but you can make the whole trip that way.’’ – E.L. Doctorow

“What is written without effort is in generally read without pleasure.” — Samuel Johnson

“The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.” Thomas Jefferson

“Being a real writer means being able to work on a bad day,’’ – Norman Mailer

“Farmer Hoggett knew that little ideas that tickled and nagged and refused to go away should never be ignored for in them lie the seeds of destiny.’’ – From the movie “Babe

“Never to be satisfied, all of art is there.’’ – Jules Renard

“I’m all in favor of keeping dangerous weapons out of the hands of fools. Let’s start with typewriters.”Frank Lloyd Wright

“Good writing is like a window pane.’’ – George Orwell.

“Writing is both mask and unveiling.” – E.B. White

“With 60 staring me in the face I have developed inflammation of the sentence struction and a definite hardening of the paragraphs.’’ James Thurber

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.’’ –Leonardo da Vinci

“The human experience reflected in Shakespeare is probably the most specific and uplifting language that we have.’’ – Kelsey Grammar

“They’re not writing songs about cars any more.’’ – J Mays, Chief designer Ford Motor Co

“You can’t go to the store and buy a good ear and rhythm’’ – Les Paul

“Quit while you still have juice, and the next day the juice will still be there.’’ – Ernest Hemingway

“Someone once warned against writing too little too often about too much. That may be the best description of a columnist’s job I’ve ever heard.’’ — Rheta Grimsley Johnson in her farewell column AJC.

“Being a writer is like having homework every night for the rest of your life.’’ — Lawrence Kasd

“Put is 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

“Everybody has an opinion. What counts at the end of the day is who is listening.

Unless you are grounded in the classics, you will sound like the person you last read who impressed you.

“Books are smart and brilliant and wise. Love what you do and do what you love. Don’t listen to anyone else who tells you not to do it. You do what you want, what you love. Imagination should be the center of your life.” – Ray Bradbury

“Alone at night, when I was twelve years old, I looked at the planet Mars and I said, ‘Take me home!’ And the planet Mars took me home, and I never came back. So I’ve written every day in the last 75 years. I’ve never stopped writing.’’ – Ray Bradbury

“I believe more in the scissors than I do in the pencil.’’ — Truman Capote

“A word is dead
When it is said,
Some say.
I say it just 
Begins to live that day.’’ — Emily Dickinson

“Great writing can sneak up on you, master of a thousand disguises, prodigal kinsman, messenger boy, class clown, commander of artillerary, altar boy, lace maker, exiled king, peacemaker or moongoddess.’’ – Pat Conroy

“What a heavy oar the pen. What a strong current ideas are to row in.”
~~Gustave Flaubert

“I make no conscious effort to be tough, or hard-boiled, or grim, or any of the things I am usually called. I merely try to write as the character would write, and I never forget that the average man, from the fields, the streets, the bars, the offices, and even the gutters of his country, has acquired a vividness of speech that goes beyond anything I could invent, and that if I stick to this heritage, this logos of the American countryside, I shall attain a maximum of effectiveness with very little effort.” — James Cain

“Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words.’’ – Mark Twain

Always ask yourself: Should trees die for this?

“All you have to do is open your eyes in the morning and look at whaever you see on the other side of your eyelids”  — Lewis Grizzard on writing a column

“Half my life is an act of revision.’’ — John Irving.

“How do you make the same jokes funny?” Charlie Chaplain was asked. He replied: “Take the old gag of the woman slipping on a banana. How do you make that funny again?” This is what chaplain replied “You start with a long shot of the woman walking down the street, then you cut to a shot of the banana on the ground, then you show the woman and the banana, then you show the babana, then you you show the woman stepping over the banana and falling in a manhole.”

“You must know it all then not tell it all or not tell too much at once, simply the right thing at the right moment.” Eudora Welty

“Distrust any writing that doesn’t make pictures in your head.’’ — George Orwell

“Don’t just say the old lady screamed, bring her own and let her scream.” — Mark Twain

“All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened, and after you are finished reading one, you will feel that it all belongs to you; the good and the bad, the ecstasy, the remorse and the sorrow, the people and the places and how the weather was. If you can get so that you can give that to people, then you are a writer.” Ernest Hemingway

“Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people who never knew each other, citizens of distant epochs.’’ – Carl Sagan“The real fear isn’t rejection, but that there won’t be enough time in your life to write all the stories that you have in you.” – Ray Bradbury

“Love. Fall in love and stay in love. Write only what you love, and love what you write. The key word is love. You have to get up in the morning and write something you love, something to live for.” – Ray Bradbury

“We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.’’ —Ernest Hemingway

“The greatest enemy of clear language is insincerity.” ~ George Orwell”

“I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they go by.” – Douglas Adams“Good writing is like a windowpane.” George Orwell

“All my life I’ve looked at words as though I were seeing them for the first time.” Ernest Hemingway

“If you don’t ask, the answer is always no.’’ – Tony Robbins

“You’ve got to find some way of saying it without saying it.’’ – Duke Ellington

“I’ll play it first and tell you what it is later.’’ –Miles Davis

“Broadly speaking, the short words are the best, and the old words best of all.” – Winston Churchill

“Write as much as you can! Write, write, write till your fingers break!” Anton Chekhov“The best advice on writing I’ve ever received was from William Zinsser: “Be grateful for every word you can cut.” – Christoper Buckley

“The best writing advice I’ve ever heard: Don’t write like you went to college.’’ Alice Kahn

“You can be a little ungrammatical if you come from the right part of the country’’ – Robert Frost

“When you catch an adjective, kill it.’’ – Mark Twain

“The adjective is the banana peel of the parts of speech.’’ – Clifton Fadiman

“Don’t say it was “delightful”; make us say “delightful” when we’ve read the description. You see, all those words (horrifying, wonderful, hideous, exquisite) are only like saying to your readers “Please will you do my job for me?” — C.S. Lewis

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

“Short paragraphs put air around what you write and make it look inviting, whereas one long chunk of type can discourage the reader from even starting to read.’’ — William Zinsser.“Journalism consists largel in saying Long Jones is dead to people who never new Lord Jones existed.’’ – G.K. Chesterton

“The aim of every artist is to arrest motion, which is life, by artificial means and hold it fixed so that a hundred years later, when a stranger looks at it, it moves again since it is life.’’ – William Faulkner

“There is nothing more exhilarating than to be shot at without result.’’ – Winston Churchill. (This is my own philosophy on deadline.)

“Harry Truman was a  reader. He was a lifelong reader. I asked Margaret (Truman, his daughter) one day, ‘What would be your father’s idea of heaven?’ She said, ‘Oh, that’s easy. It would be a good comfortable armchair and a good reading lamp and a stack of new history and biography (books) that he wanted to read.’ He once said that all readers can’t be leaders but all leaders must be readers…” — David McCullough

“It had been startling and disappointing to me to find out that story books had been written by people, that books were not natural wonders, coming of themselves like grass.” — Eudora Welty

“The notes I handle no better than many pianists. But the pauses between the notes — ah, that is where the art resides.” – Artur Schnabel, Austrian pianist and composer

“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

“Look at all the good in the world and try to give some of it back.” — Anna Quindlen

“How many of us, the South’s writers-to-be of my generation, were blessed in one way or another, if not blessed alike, in not having gone deprived of the King James Version of the Bible. Its cadence entered into our ears and our memories for good. The evidence, or the ghost of it, lingers in all our books.” — Eudora Welty, One Writers Beginnings

“If it is true that a writer’s world is shaped by the experience of childhood and adolescence,” he says in Terrains of the Heart, “then returning. . . gives him the primary pulses and shocks he cannot afford to lose.” — Willie Morris

“This is the feeling for syllable and rhythm, penetrating far below the conscious levels of thought and feeling, invigorating every word.” — TS Eliot

“Music is you own experience, your thoughts, your wisdom. If you don’t live it, it won’t come out of your horn.” — Charlie Parker

“Every artist joins a conversation that has been going on for generations, even millennia, before he or she joins the scene.” — John Barth

“The pages are blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible.” — Vladimir Nabokov

“After a certain number of years, our faces become our biographies.” — Cynthia Ozick.

“To select well among old things is almost equal to inventing new ones.” — Charles Trublet

“My mother wanted us to understand that the tragedies of your life one day have the potential to be the comic stories the next.” — Nora Ephron

“One writes to make a home for oneself, on paper, in time, in others’ minds.” — Alfred Kazin

“The secret of writing a newspaper column is remembering a lot of things that

never happened.’’ – Lewis Grizzard.

“There are painters who transform the sun to a yellow spot. But ther are others who, with the help of their art and their intelligence, transform a yellow spot into the sun.’’ – Pablo Picasso

“Really, the writer doesn’t want success … He know he has a short span of life, that the day will come when he must pass through the wall of oblivion, and he wants to leave a scratch on that wall – Kilroy was here – that somebody a hundred, or a thousand years later will see.’’ –William Faulkner.

“Once you begin to look at the life about you, then you find the world is full of stories. Writing gives me a reason to get out of the house and wander. I always start with a title, and then I go ramble.’’ – Sam Pickering

“The more you keep track of ordinary things, like giving blood, you realize that during your ordinary days you meet all sorts of interesting people. You realize you live in a community, in a fabric of relationships, and suddenly a very dull, ordinary July becomes full of off, interesting people.’’ – Sam Pickering

“I think success in life is looking around you and finding the right things to celebrate. If you don’t know the names of flowers near your house, it seems to me you shouldn’t be holding forth about the meaning of existence because you don’t even know what’s in your own back yard.’’ – Sam Pickering

“I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they go by. — Douglas Adams

“Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.’’ — Carl Sagan

“A writer should concern himself with whatever absorbs his fancy, stirs his heart, and unlimbers his typewriter. I feel no obligation to deal with politics. I do feel a responsibility to society because of going into print: a writer has the duty to be good, not lousy; true, not false; lively, not dull; accurate, not full of error. He should tend to lift people up, not lower them down. Writers do not merely reflect and interpret life, they inform and shape life.’’ – E.B. White

“A writer must reflect and interpret his society, his world; he must also provide inspiration and guidance and challenge. Much writing today strikes me as deprecating, destructive, and angry. There are good reasons for anger, and I have nothing against anger. But I think some writers have lost their sense of proportion, their sense of humor, and their sense of appreciation. I am often mad, but I would hate to be nothing but mad: and I think I would lose what little value I may have as a writer if I were to refuse, as a matter of principle, to accept the warming rays of the sun, and to report them, whenever, and if ever, they happen to strike me. ‘’– E.B. White

“A blank piece of paper is God’s way of telling us how hard it to be God.’’ — Sidney Sheldon

“I get up in the morning, torture a typewriter until it screams, then stop.’’ — Clarence Budington Kelland

“A writer never has a vacation. For a writer life consists of either writing or thinking about writing.’’ — Eugene Ionesco

“There’s no such thing as writer’s block. That was invented by people in California who couldn’t write.’’ — Terry Pratchett

“Being a good writer is 3 percent talent, 97 percent not being distracted by the Internet.’’ — Anonymous

“Writing is its own reward.’’ — Henry Miller

“In my experience, the best creative work is never done when one is unhappy.’’ — Albert Einstein

“If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write things worth reading or do things worth writing.’’ — Benjamin Franklin

“You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.’’ – Jack London

“It was while making newspaper deliveries, trying to miss the bushes and hit the porch, that I first learned the importance of accuracy in journalism.’’ –  Charles Osgood

“Journalism is literature in a hurry.’’ –  Matthew Arnold

“To write well, to write passionately, to be less inhibited, to be warmer, to be more self-critical, to recognize the power of as well as the force of lust, to write, to love.’’ – John Cheever

“If the word “ass” appears in a sentence, even in a sublime sentence, the public will hear only that one word.’’ – Jules Renard

“One of the great rules of art – do not linger.’’ – Andre Gide

“I am convinced that it is better for a writer to know a little bit of the world remarkably well than to know a great part of the world remarkably little.’’ – Thomas Hardy

“I hope that in the next world I shall be able to look back at this life and say: “Those were beautiful dreams.’’ – Anton Chekhov

”Never to be satisfied, all of art is there.’’ – Jules Renard

“To write well, to write passionately, to be less inhibited, to be warmer, to be more self-critical, to recognize the power of as well as the force of lust, to write, to love.’’ – John Cheever

“An idea has to have some dirt on its shoes, or it’s just air.’’ — Marvin Bell

“Surely there is a wisp of immortality in us then, poised at that juncture before the world seizes hold of us.’’ – Willie Morris.

“We remember what we wish to remember; it is all there to be summoned, but we pick and choose – since we are what we are – as we must and will.’’ – Willie Morris

“Talent is a long patience.’’ – Gustave Flaubert

“Poetry brings pollen of one flower to another flower.’’ – Robert Frost

“To live in the world of creation – to get into it and stay in it – to frequent it and haunt it – to think intensely and fruitfully – to woo combinations and inspirations into being by a depth and continuity of attention and meditation – this is the only thing.’’ – Henry James

Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” Anton Chekov
“When I get an idea for a song it would gel in my mind for weeks or months, and then one day just like that, I’ll write it.’’ – Johnny Cash

“The world we live in is the words we use.’’ – Ludwig Wittgenstein’

“You don’t write because you want to say something. You write because you have something to say.’’ — F Scott Fitzgerald

“Lettin’ the cat outta’ the bag is a whole lot easier than puttin’ it back in.” — American humorist Will Rogers

“A job on a newspaper is a special thing. Every day you take something that you found out about, and you put it down and in a matter of hours it becomes a product. Not just a product like a can or something. It is a personal product that people, a lot of people, take the time to sit down and read.’’ – Jimmy Breslin

“Of making many books there is no end….” Ecclesiastes 12:12

“You take what you’re given, whether it’s the cornfields of the Midwest or the coal mines of West Virginia, and you make your fiction out of it. It’s all you have. And somehow, wherever you are, it always seems to be enough.” – Larry Brown

“Let every negotiate for itself, and trust no agent.’’ – William Shakespeare.

“Anyone can look for fashion in a boutique or history in a museum. The creative explorer looks for history in a hardware store and fashion in an airport.’’ – Robert Wieder

“The writer’s glory is to … help man endure by lifting his heart, by reminding him of the courage and honor and hope and pride and compassion and pity and sacrifice which have been the glory of his past.’’ – William Faulkner

“We’ve got the best seat on the Titanic. And you know what? The band kept playing while the ship went down. That’s our job in this – to be the band. To uplift people as the ship is going down.’’ – Regina Brett

“Many ideas grow better when transplanted into another mind than in the one where they sprang up.’’ – Oliver Wendall Holmes

“When I am working on a book or story I write every morning as soon after the first light as possible. There is no one to disturb you and it is cool or cold and you come to your work and warm as you write.’’ – Ernest Hemingway

“I can’t write five words but that I change seven’’ – Dorothy Parker

“The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug’’ Mark Twain

“You can be a little ungrammatical if you come from the right part of the country.’’ – Robert Frost

“When I write I aim in my mind no toward New York but toward a vague spot a little east of Kansas. I think of the books on library shelves, without their jackets, years old, and a countryish teen-aged boy finding them, and having them speak to him. The reviews. The stacks in Brentano’s, are just hurdles to get over, to place the books on that shelf.’’ – John Updike.

“A kid is a guy I never wrote down to. He’s interested in what I say if I make it interesting. He is also the last container of a sense of humor, which disappears as he gets older, and he laughs only according to the way the boss, societ, politics or race want him to. Then he becomes an adult. And an adule it an obsolete child.’’ – Dr. Seuss

“The man of letters loves not only to be read but to be seen. Happy to be by himself, he would be happier still if people knew that he was happy to be by himself, working in solitude at night under his lamp.’’ — Remy de Gourmont

“To have written one good poem – good used seriously – is an unlikely and marvelous thing that only a couple hundred of writers of English, at the most, have done – it’s like sitting out in the yard in the evening and having a meteorite fall in one’s lap.’’ – Randall Jarrell

“Where is human nature so weak as in the bookstore?’’ — Henry Ward Beecher

“Reading is the the mind what exercise is to the body.’’ — Sir Richard Steele

“If you cannot read all your books, at any rate handle, or as it were, fondle them – peer into them, let the fall open where they will, read from the first sentence that arrests the eye, set them back on the shelves with your own hands, arrange them on your own plan so that you at least know where they are. Let them be your friends; let them at any rate be your acquaintances.’’ – Winston Churchill

“There is only one trait that marks the writer. He is always watching. It’s a kind to trick of the mind he is born with.’’ — Morley Callaghan

“No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader.’’ – Robert Frost

“An author ought to write for the youth of his own generation, the critics of the next and the schoolmasters of ever afterwards.’’ – F. Scott Fitzgerald

“I never desire to converse with a man who has written more than he had read.’’ – Samuel Johnson

“I’ll be 80 this month. Age, if nothing else, entitles me to set the record straight before I dissolve.’’ – Gloria Swanson.

“Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assault of thoughts on the unthinking.’’ — John Maynard Keynes

”A small drop of ink, falling like dew, upon a thought, produces that which makes thousands, perhaps millions, think.’’ – Lord Byron

“I write the first sentence and trust in God for the next.” Laurence Stearne

”Writing is the hardest work in the world not involving heavy lifting.’’ – Pete Hamill

”When I sit down at my writing desk, time seems to vanish. I think it’s a wonderful way to spend one’s life. ” – Erica Jong

“All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.’’ – Ernest Hemingway

“Write what you know about.’’ — Mark Twain

“My spelling is Wobbly. It’s good spelling but it Wobbles, and the letters get in the wrong places.’’ — Winnie the Pooh. (A. A. Milne)

“No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader.” — Robert Frost

“When I’m writing, I know I’m doing the thing I was born to do.’’ – Anne Sexton

“Writing became such a process of discovery that I couldn’t wait to get to work in the morning: I wanted to know what I was going to say.’’ – Sharon O’Brien

“Good writing is supposed to evoke sensation in the reader — not the fact that it is raining, but the feeling of being rained upon.” — E.L. Doctorow

“Words are sacred. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones, in the right order, you can nudge the world a little.” — Tom Stoppard

“All the fun is in how you say a thing.’’ – Robert Frost

“In good writing, words become one with things.’’ – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened and after you are finished reading one you will feel that all that happened to you and afterwards it all belongs to you: the good and the bad, the ecstasy, the remorse and sorrow, the people and the places and how the weather was.” – Ernest Hemingway

“I am a bear of very little brain, and long words bother me.’’ — Winnie the Pooh (A. A. Milne)

“All good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath.’’ — F. Scott Fitzgerald

“Every death is like the burning of a library.” (Alex Haley)

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

“Know something, sugar? Stories only happen to people who can tell them.” Allan Gurganus

“Use the right word and not its second cousin.” Mark Twain

“All good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath.” F. Scott Fitzgerald

“In going where you have to go, and doing what you have to do, and seeing what you have to see, you dull and blunt the instrument you write with. But I would rather have it bent and dull and know I had to put it on the grindstone again and hammer it into shape and put a whetstone to it, and know I had something to write about, than to have it bright and shining and nothing to say, or smooth and well-oiled in the closet, but unused.’’ — Ernest Hemingway

“Work every day. No matter what has happened the day or night before, get up and bite on the nail.’’ — Ernest Hemingway

“Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.’’ — William Wordsworth

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