Of Writers, Writing, and Such

Writer: a peculiar organism capable of transforming caffeine into words.

The next best thing to writing, is reading about writing. That’s what I think anyway. Whether it’s a whole book, or just bits and pieces from around the web, I love seeing what other writers have to say about their work – what advice they give, what observations they make. Below I’ve assembled some of my favorites. Feel free to share your own in the comments section.

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” – Ernest Hemingway

“The greatest part of a writer’s time is spent in reading, in order to write; a man will turn over half a library to make one book.” – Samuel Johnson

“I like the idea that every page in every book can have a gem on it. It’s probably what I love most about writing – that words can be used in a way like a child playing in a sandpit, rearranging things, swapping them around. They’re the best moments in a day of writing – when an image appears that you didn’t know would be there when you started work in the morning.” – Markus Zusak

“Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.” – Mark Twain

“Writing a book is an adventure. To begin with it is a toy and an amusement. Then it becomes a mistress, then it becomes a master, then it becomes a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster and fling him to the public.” – Winston Churchill

“A word is not the same with one writer as it is with another. One tears it from his guts. The other pulls it out of his overcoat pocket.” – Charles Peguy

“Imagine a poem written with such enormous three-dimensional words that we had to invent a smaller word to reference each of the big ones; that we had to rewrite the whole thing in shorthand, smashing it into two dimensions, just to talk about it. Or don’t imagine it. Look outside. Human language is our attempt at navigating God’s language; it is us running between the lines of His epic, climbing on the vowels and building houses out of the consonants.” – N.D. Wilson

“No one ever committed suicide while reading a good book, but many have tried while trying to write one.” – Robert Byrne

“I’m not asking you to come reverently or unquestioningly; I’m not asking you to be politically-correct or cast aside your sense of humor (please God you have one). This isn’t a popularity contest, it’s not the moral Olympics, and it’s not church. But it’s writing, damn it, not washing the car and putting on eyeliner. If you can take it seriously, we can do business. If you can’t or won’t, it’s time for you to close the book and do something else. Wash the car, maybe.” – Stephen King

“Only a mediocre writer is always at his best.” – W. Somerset Maugham

“You say grace before meals. All right. But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing and grace before I dip the pen in the ink.” – G.K. Chesterton

“How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.” – Henry David Thoreau

“Being a writer is a very peculiar sort of a job: it’s always you versus a blank sheet of paper (or a blank screen) and quite often the blank piece of paper wins.” – Neil Gaiman

“But words are things, and a drop of ink, falling like dew upon a thought, produces that which makes thousands, perhaps millions, think.” – Lord Byron

“If you want to write, if you want to create, you must be the most sublime fool that God ever turned out and sent rambling. You must write every single day of your life. You must read dreadful dumb books and glorious books, and let them wrestle in beautiful fights inside your head, vulgar one moment, brilliant the next.” – Ray Bradbury

“Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.” – Stephen King

“An absolutely necessary part of a writer’s equipment, almost as necessary as talent, is the ability to stand up under punishment, both the punishment the world hands out and the punishment he inflicts upon himself.” – Irwin Shaw

“What no wife of a writer can ever understand is that a writer is working when he’s staring out the window.” – Rudolph Erich Rascoe

“Writing is hard work. A clear sentence is no accident. Very few sentences come out right the first time, or even the third time. Remember this as a consolation in moments of despair. If you find that writing is hard, it’s because it is hard. It’s one of the hardest things people do.” – William Zinsser

“If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.” – Elmore Leonard

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5 thoughts on “Of Writers, Writing, and Such”

  1. All those quotes were fantastic, I think my favorite was :
    “No one ever committed suicide while reading a good book, but many have tried while trying to write one.” – Robert Byrne
    I know how that feels.

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