typewriter short and sweet

Quotes About Writing

You might have noticed the randomized quote on the website in the upper right corner. (It used to be at the top but the new look-and-feel seems to prevent me from doing that.) Over the years, I’ve collected quotations that seem particularly poignant or true.

I like quotes. They’re like little succinct nuggets of knowledge. Here are some of my favorite quotes on writing. (You might also see them in the quote generator from time to time. Consider this a cultivated list.)

“If at the end of a war story you feel uplifted or if you feel that some small bit of rectitude has been salvaged from the larger waste, then you have been made the victim of a very old and terrible lie.”

-Tim O’Brien

“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

-Maya Angelou

“You can be the ripest, juiciest peach there is, and there will still be people who don’t like peaches.”

-Dita Von Teese

“Does this need to be said? Does this need to be said by me? Does this need to be said by me right now? If it’s a no on any of these, shut up.”


“The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.”

-Terry Pratchett

“Sometimes you have to make peace with the fact that you are the villain in someone else’s story even if you thought you were doing the right thing. You don’t get to tell them how to narrate their experience.”


“I spent most of my young life learning the best writers were white men with addictions, and most of my adult life unlearning that.”

-Justin Pierce

“Anything real begins with the fiction of what could be.”

-Kevin Kelly

“Journalism 101: If someone says it’s raining and another person says it’s dry, it’s not your job to quote them both. Your job is to look out the fucking window and find out which is true.”

-Sally Claire

“Don’t cling to a mistake just because you spent a lot of time making it.”


“The more personal it gets, the more universal it is.”

-Mara Wilson

“No one is put off by convoluted continuity when the story is good. Story’s the engine that can outrun the cops.”

-Philip Hester

“Storytelling alters the storyteller. And a story is altered by being told.”

-Mohsin Hamid

“Do what you feel in your heart to be right – for you’ll be criticized anyway.”

-Eleanor Roosevelt

“Books aren’t a test. You don’t get points for difficulty.”

-Hilary Thomas

“Writing is a way of converting childhood trauma into very small quantities of money.”

-Will Wiles

“The books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame.”

-Oscar Wilde

“Most people who will walk after me will be children, so make the beat keep time with short steps.”

-Hans Christian Andersen

“The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.”

-Steve Furtick

“Those who do not want to imitate anything, produce nothing.”

-Salvador Dali

“The first step is learning the rules. The second step is following the rules. The third step is breaking the rules.”

-Gavin Verhey

“Fuck motivation. It’s a fickle and unreliable little dickfuck and it isn’t worth your time. Better to cultivate discipline than to rely on motivation. Force yourself to do things. Force yourself to get up out of bed and practice. Force yourself to work. Motivation is fleeting and it’s easy to rely on because it requires no concentrated effort to get. Motivation comes to you, you don’t even have to chase after it. Discipline is reliable, motivation is fleeting. The question isn’t how to keep yourself motivated, it’s how to train yourself to work without it.”


“I’ve been writing for the entirety of my life, and I still clock in as a legal secretary every day. It’s not about ‘being what I want.’ I want to get up every morning and write, take a nap at 11, write some more, take selfies, and drink wine. And do sex, I guess…yeah. Sex. But I’m about to clock in and support someone else who is actually living their goal as an attorney. And that still doesn’t stop my pen. I write because I’m a writer. Not because I am/am not/will be/will not be famous. And if you’re a creator, you should create too.”

-Melanie Dione

“Hard work may not always result in success, but it will never result in regret.”

-Michael Lewis, “Moneyball”

“If you have one person you’re influenced by, everyone will say you’re the next whoever. But if you rip off a hundred people, everyone will say you’re so original!”

-Gary Panter

“HEY! YOU! You’re working on something and you’re thinking ‘Nobody’s gonna watch, read, listen.’ Finish it anyway.”

-Melanie Dione

“Everything that needs to be said has already been said. But, since no one was listening, everything must be said again.”

-Andrè Gide

“Every artist gets asked the question, ‘Where do you get your ideas?’ The honest artist answers, ‘I steal them.’ How does an artist look at the world? First, you figure out what’s worth stealing, then you move on to the next thing. That’s about all there is to it. When you look at the world this way, you stop worrying about what’s ‘good’ and what’s ‘bad’ — there’s only stuff worth stealing, and stuff that’s not worth stealing. Everything is up for grabs.”

-Austin Kleon

“If you have come to these pages for laughter, may you find it.
If you are here to be offended, may your ire rise and your blood boil.
If you seek an adventure, may this story sing you away to blissful escape.
If you need to test or confirm your beliefs, may you reach comfortable conclusions.
All books reveal perfection, by what they are or what they are not.
May you find that which you seek, in these pages or outside them.
May you find perfection, and know it by name.”

-Christopher Moore, “Author’s Blessing”

“As Dorothy J. Heydt famously said, the eight deadliest words for any work of fiction are ‘I don’t care what happens to these people.'”

-Charlie Jane Anders

“I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.”

-Anne Frank

“Always good to remember when you’re making art. You don’t have to like it, just be ready to do the next thing.”

-Neil Gaiman

“The more mistakes, the better the story afterwards. Especially if there’s a happy ending.”

-Felicia Day

“Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.”


“Resolution demands a sacrifice.”

-Stephen King

“I’m more interested in becoming a commercial writer, and unfortunately, commentary on my writing from a bunch of other unpublished writers is of little utility in that regard. Being a better writer is something of a moot point, since if you’re not a commercial writer to some extent, very few people will know whether your writing is any good or not.”

-John Scalzi

“Different narrative forms naturally lend themselves to different aspects of existence. The novel is ideal for presenting the inner lives of its characters, the play is ideal for showing people in a room talking and movies are ideal for showing large metal objects hurtling through the air.”

-Todd Alcott

“Science-fiction: the improbable made possible. Fantasy: the impossible made probable.”

-Rod Serling

“Stories are not real life, stories are pieces of morality made entertaining.”

-Matthew Jarpe

“If I were only allowed to read or enjoy art or listen to music made by people whose opinions and beliefs were the same as mine, I think the world would be a pretty dismal sort of place.”

-Neil Gaiman

“But the problem with readers, the idea we’re given of reading is that the model of a reader is the person watching a film, or watching television. So the greatest principle is, ‘I should sit here and I should be entertained.’ And the more classical model, which has been completely taken away, is the idea of a reader as an amateur musician. An amateur musician who sits at the piano, has a piece of music, which is the work, made by somebody they don’t know, who they probably couldn’t comprehend entirely, and they have to use their skills to play this piece of music. The greater the skill, the greater the gift that you give the artist and that the artist gives you. That’s the incredibly unfashionable idea of reading. And yet when you practice reading, and you work at a text, it can only give you what you put into it. It’s an old moral, but it’s completely true.”

-Zadie Smith

“Writer: It’s not an occupation; it’s a compulsion.”

-Teresa Nielsen Hayden

“The difference between reality and fiction? Fiction has to make sense…”

-Tom Clancy

“Being a good writer is 3% talent, 97% not being distracted by the Internet.”


“I only write when I am inspired. Fortunately, I am inspired at 9 o’clock every morning.”

-William Faulkner

“Fiction gives us a second chance that life denies us.”

-Paul Theroux

“Where there is conflict, the tale stands; where the conflict is absent, the tale falls flat, and in neither case does it matter how many ships get blown up.”


“Never worry about a book corrupting a child. Worry if your children are not getting ideas from books.”

-Richard Peck

The Lord of the Rings is a million times more interesting than mere literature, which is why mere literary critics cannot get to grips with it.”

-Robert McNeil

“Fairy Tales do not tell children that dragons exist. Children already know dragons exist. Fairy Tales tell children the dragons can be killed.”

-G.K. Chesterson

“A poet is someone who is astonished by everything.”


“Having been unpopular in high school is not just cause for book publications.”

-Fran Liebowitz

“Use what talent you possess: the woods would be very silent if no bird sang except those that sang best.”

-Henry Van Dyke

“Every journalist has a novel in him, which is an excellent place for it.”

-Russel Lynes

“Quoting one is plagiarism. Quoting many is research.”


“Speaking personally, you can have my gun, but you’ll take my book when you pry my cold, dead fingers off the binding.”

-Stephen King

“Why don’t you write books people can read?”

-Nora Joyce, to her husband, James

“Imagination is the only weapon in the war against reality.”

-Jules de Gautier

“Creative minds have always been known to survive any kind of bad training.”

-Anna Freud

“The thing I like about poetry is no one will admit what a bunch of crap it is.”

-Tom Shillue

“In your lifetime, if you can come up with one original idea, you have accomplished a great deal.”

-Max Roach

Eric Juneau is a software engineer and novelist on his lunch breaks. In 2016, his first novel, Merm-8, was published by eTreasures. He lives in, was born in, and refuses to leave, Minnesota. You can find him talking about movies, video games, and Disney princesses at http://www.ericjuneaubooks.com where he details his journey to become a capital A Author.

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