Inspirational Quotes about Writing

Since 2006 I have been collecting quotes about writing in a pink suede notebook.  Here are some of my favourites, in no particular order.

I hope they inspire, entertain or delight you.


“Description is the poet’s act of love.” W. P. Ker

“Haste is the enemy of art.  Art in its making and its enjoying demands long tracts of time.” Jeanette Winterson

“From the things that have happened and from all the things you know and those you cannot know, you make something through your invention that is not a representation but a whole new thing truer than anything true and alive, and if you make it well enough, you give it immortality.  That is why you write and for no other reason.” Ernest Hemingway (pictured)

“Writing is a form of personal freedom.  It frees us from the mass identity we see in the making all around us.” Don deLillo

“The first draft of everything is shit.” Ernest Hemingway

“The reassurance that human nature is not fundamentally evil, that love can conquer death, that women and men are not enemies, that the wicked will ultimately fail and the good triumph after adversity, is what the reader seeks in a story.”  Celia Brayfield

“One must write about simple things: how Peter Semionovich married Maria Ivanova.  That is all.”  Anton Chekov (pictured)

“The objective in writing is to reveal.  It is not to teach, not to advertise, not to see, not even to communicate […] but to reveal.” William Carlos Williams

“The argument that what the writer really needs is experience in the world, not training in literature—both reading and writing—has been so endlessly repeated that for many it has come to sound like gospel. […But] wide experience, from Zanzibar to the Yukon, is more likely to lead to cluttered texture than to deep and moving fiction, [and] the first-hand knowledge of a dozen trades is likely to be of less value to the writer than twenty good informants, the kind one gets talking to on buses, at parties, or on sagging park benches.” John Gardner

“Fundamental accuracy of statement is the one morality of writing.”  Ezra Pound

“[To writers:] Do not feel, any more, guilty about your idleness and solitude.  If your idleness is a complete slump, fretting, worry or due to over-feeding and physical mugginess, that is bad,[…] But if it is the dreamy idleness that children have, an idleness when you walk alone for a long, long time, or take a long, dreamy time at dressing, or lie in bed at night and thoughts come and go, or dig in a garden, or drive a car for many hours alone, or play the piano, or sew, or paint ALONE or an idleness where you sit […] quietly [writing] down what you happen to be thinking, that is creative idleness.  With all my heart I tell you and reassure you: at such times you are being slowly filled and re-charged with warm imagination, with wonderful, living thoughts. […] For what we write today slipped into our souls some other day when we were alone and doing nothing.” Brenda Ueland

“Prose is like hair —it shines with combing.” Gustave Flaubert

“First of all you need to be obsessed.  There’s no good reason to do it, nobody wants you to do it, or gives you the time or the space.  You have to do that yourself. […] Being a poet is like having an invisible partner.  It isn’t easy.  But you can’t live without it either.  Talent is only 10%.  The rest is obsession.” Selima Hill

“And yet the only exciting life is the imaginary one.” Virginia Woolf (pictured)

“We writers […] not only travel to other worlds but create them out of space and time.  When we write, we truly travel to these worlds in our imagination.  Anyone who has tried to write seriously knows this is why we need solitude and concentration.  We are actually travelling to another place and time.” Chris Vogler

“Write hard and clear about what hurts.” Ernest Hemingway

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