Features

20 Favorite Quotes About Writing

Earlier this week, we asked you to submit your favorite quotes about writing and the writer’s life to enter to win an awesome Writer’s Clock. You wasted no time flooding our inbox with wit, wisdom, and writing-related humor, to the tune of nearly 140 entries. We fired up random.org to select a winner. Her submission leads off the collection below. Enjoy!

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Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass. –Anton Chekhov, submitted by giveaway winner Laura H.

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You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you. –Ray Bradbury, multiple submissions

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How can I know what I think till I see what I say? –E.M. Forster, submitted by Hannah P.

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We die. That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives. –Toni Morrison, submitted by Amelia D.

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Some writers confuse authenticity, which they ought always to aim at, with originality, which they should never bother about. –W.H. Auden, submitted by Gabrielle K.

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That’s why I write, because life never works except in retrospect. You can’t control life, at least you can control your version. –Chuck Palahniuk, submitted by Abram D.

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Bad things don’t happen to writers; it’s all material. –Garrison Keillor, submitted by Jessica D.

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Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else. –Gloria Steinem, submitted by Kathie M.

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The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it’s definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it ­honestly, and tell it as best you can. I’m not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter. –Neil Gaiman, submitted by Sara S.

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So the writer who breeds more words than he needs, is making a chore for the reader who reads. –Dr. Seuss, submitted by Scott B.

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First you’re an unknown, then you write one book and you move up to obscurity. –Martin Myers, submitted by Zara G.

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Most editors are failed writers – but so are most writers. –T.S. Eliot, submitted by Uri R.

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Writing is like sex. First you do it for love, then you do it for your friends, and then you do it for money. –Virginia Woolf, multiple submissions

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Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand. –George Orwell, submitted by Henry R.

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Writing is not necessarily something to be ashamed of, but do it in private and wash your hands afterwards. –Robert Heinlein, submitted by Tegan

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I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by. –Douglas Adams, submitted by Randall H.

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I, even now, persist in believing that these black marks on white paper bear the greatest significance, that if I keep writing I might be able to catch consciousness in a jar. –Jeffrey Eugenides, submitted by Kathryn T.

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This morning I took out a comma and this afternoon I put it back again. –Oscar Wilde, submitted by Carole P.

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Hobbes: Do you have an idea for your story yet?
Calvin: No, I’m waiting for inspiration. You can’t just turn on creativity like a faucet. You have to be in the right mood.
Hobbes: What mood is that?
Calvin: Last-minute panic. –Bill Watterson, submitted by Isabel B.

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Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self. –Cyril Connolly, submitted by Tiffany H.