Famous Writing Quotes

carl sandburgTo give further insight into how to begin writing, what the composition process is like, and how one should edit their work, we have provided a compilation of sayings from well-known writers on these subjects. Also see the bottom of the page for inspiring quotes that will energize your writing spirit.

When You Begin to Write

 ”In writing and politicking, it’s best not to think about it, just do it.”
 
- Gore Vidal
 
 
“The importance to the writer of first writing must be out of all proportion of the actual value of what is written.”
 
- Elizabeth Bowen
 
 
“I don’t care who you are. When you sit down to write the first page of your screenplay, in your head, you’re also writing your Oscar acceptance speech.”
 
- Nora Ephron 
 
 
“In my writing I am acting as a map maker, an explorer of psychic areas, a cosmonaut of inner space, and I see no point in exploring areas that have already been thoroughly surveyed.”
 
- William S. Burroughs 
 
 
“I have never started a poem yet whose end I knew. Writing a poem is discovering.”
 
- Robert Frost

 

Composition Process

 

 ”You fail only if you stop writing.”
 
- Ray Bradbury
 
 
“You know, the process of making a documentary is one of discovery, and like writing a story, you follow a lead and that leads you to something else and then by the time you finish, the story is nothing like you expected.”
 
- William Shatner 
 
 
“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” 
 
- Ernest Hemingway
 
 
“Planning to write is not writing. Outlining, researching, talking to people about what you’re doing, none of that is writing. Writing is writing.”
 
- E. L. Doctorow
 
 
“I think there is a lot of overexplaining both in writing and acting. People don’t need to be hit on the head.”
 
- Clive Owen

 

Editing

 
“The beautiful part of writing is that you don’t have to get it right the first time, unlike, say, a brain surgeon. You can always do it better, find the exact word, the apt phrase, the leaping simile.”
 
- Robert Cormier
 
 
“When a man is in doubt about this or that in his writing, it will often guide him if he asks himself how it will tell a hundred years hence.”
 
- Samuel Butler
 
 
“Rewriting is a large part of the whole job. And get rid of stuff that’s not working. Just pare it down until it’s a beautiful thing you can hand in….”
 
- Kurt Loder
 
 
“Truth is, every writer has to be a good editor, and you have to edit yourself. It’s a skill every writer has to acquire.”
 
- Lisa Scottoline
 
“When you are editing, the final master is Aristotle and his poetics. You might have a terrific episode, but if people are falling out because there are just too many elements in it, you have to begin to get rid of things.”
 
- Ken Burns
 

Quotes to Inspire

 
 ”Writing is a form of therapy; sometimes I wonder how all those who do not write, compose or paint can manage to escape the madness, melancholia, the panic and fear which is inherent in a human situation.”
 
- Graham Greene
 
 
“If you do not breathe through writing, if you do not cry out in writing, or sing in writing, then don’t write, because our culture has no use for it.”
 
- Anais Nin
 
 
“My stories run up and bite me on the leg—I respond by writing down everything that goes on during the bite. When I finish, the idea lets go and runs off.”
 
- Ray Bradbury
 
 
“All good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath.”
 
- F. Scott Fitzgerald
 
 
“Without words, without writing and without books there would be no history, there could be no concept of humanity.”
 
- Hermann Hesse 
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