Writing Quotes: A Quest for Information

If there’s one thing I know about writers, it’s this: writers spend a lot of time talking and thinking about writing. They read books, articles and blog posts about writing. They talk about it in workshops, at conferences, in online communities and over coffee with friends and mentors. Much of the conversation is a re-hashing of the same basic set of issues, ideas and writing fundamentals. I think this constant dialogue among writers is some type of personal quest — a search for an idea, phrased just so, that will spark a breakthrough in their own writing process. It’s all about finding the right advice at the right time. It’s a search for a phrase that jives with your writing style and opens your eyes to the type of storyteller you really want to be.

To help you on your own writerly quest, we’ve put together some of our favorite quotes on writing. We hope you discover something useful and inspiring in these little nuggets of wisdom from great writers:

On getting started:

“You don’t need to wait for inspiration to write. It’s easier to be inspired while writing than while not writing.”

– Josip Novakovich in Fiction Writer’s Workshop

“You can sit there, tense and worried, freezing the creative energies, or you can start writing something. It doesn’t matter what. In five or ten minutes, the imagination will heat, the tightness will fade, and a certain spirit and rhythm will take over.”

– Leonard Bernstein

“I only write when I’m inspired, and I make sure I’m inspired every morning at 9 a.m.”

– Peter DeVries

On craft:

“Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”

– Anton Chekhov

“Good prose almost always requires both showing and telling, scenes and summary, the two basic components of creative prose.”

– Laurie Alberts

“A story consists of someone wanting something and having trouble getting it.”

– Douglas Glover
“Don’t put your characters on a treadmill. They need to go new places, face new challenges, and do new things.”

– Ally Carter

“Create a character who is both proactive and sympathetic, someone with a hole in her life, but who is willing to risk all for her goal. When readers care, you can get away with almost anything.”

– Bonnie Hearn Hill

On being good enough:

“Success is a finished book, a stack of pages each of which is filled with words. If you reach that point, you have won a victory over yourself no less impressive than sailing single-handed around the world.”

– Tom Clancy
“If you want to write, you can. Fear stops most people from writing, not lack of talent. Who am I? What right have I to speak? Who will listen to me? You are a human being with a unique story to tell. You have every right.”

– Richard Rhodes

On why we write:

“When writers make us shake our heads with the exactness of their prose and their truths, and even make us laugh about ourselves or life, our buoyancy is restored. We are given a shot at dancing with, or at least clapping along with, the absurdity of life, instead of being squashed by it over and over again. It’s like singing on a boat during a terrible storm at sea. You can’t stop the raging storm, but singing can change the hearts and spirits of the people who are together on that ship.”

– Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life
“To me, the greatest pleasure of writing is not what it’s about, but the inner music the words make.”

– Truman Capote
“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospection.”

– Anais Nin

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” 

– Maya Angelou


What’s your favorite quote about writing? What advice has sparked a major shift in your growth as a writer?

One thought on “Writing Quotes: A Quest for Information

  1. Don’t beat yourself up creating a story. Give your characters the freedom to take their story wherever they want to take it. Creatitive can’t be planned but must be allowed to happen.

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