Top Ten Writing Quotes

by limebirdster

Do you ever find yourself aimlessly scrolling through pages of quotes until you’ve forgotten what you were looking for in the first place? Well that’s what I was doing the other day, for no other reason than to procrastinate. I think it started with a googling of a favourite author and spiraled from there, as things do.

Because sometimes our favourite writers say something so profound that we want to print it out and stick it on the wall. And sometimes writers that we don’t like say something so brilliant that we wish someone else had said it!

This is a short list of some of my favourite quotes about writing. Some of them are inspiration, some are instructional, and some are just nice to read. The last one’s a bit long and I know I’ve used it on Limebird before, but I love it too much to leave it out!

If I waited till I felt like writing, I’d never write anything at all. – Anne Tyler

Start as close to the end as possible. – Kurt Vonnegut

There are no laws for the novel. There never have been, nor can there ever be. – Doris Lessing

The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug. – Mark Twain

One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple. – Jack Kerouac

Don’t try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It’s the one and only thing you have to offer. – Barbara Kingsolver

Everybody walks past a thousand story ideas every day. The good writers are the ones who see five or six of them. Most people don’t see any. – Orson Scott Card

Easy writing makes hard reading. – Ernest Hemingway

The scariest moment is always just before you start. – Stephen King

This sentence has five words. Here are five more words. Five-word sentences are fine. But several together become monotonous. Listen to what is happening. The writing is getting boring. The sound of it drones. It’s like a stuck record. The ear demands some variety. Now listen. I vary the sentence length, and I create music. Music. The writing sings. It has a pleasant rhythm, a lilt, a harmony. I use short sentences. And I use sentences of medium length. And sometimes, when I am certain the reader is rested, I will engage him with a sentence of considerable length, a sentence that burns with energy and builds with all the impetus of a crescendo, the roll of the drums, the crash of the cymbals–sounds that say listen to this, it is important. – Gary Provost

Do you have any favourite quotes about writing? Are there any quotes that you love that were written by writers that you don’t? Or vice versa?


28 Responses to “Top Ten Writing Quotes”

  1. Ster, I’ve seen you post that last one before, and I love it. It’s one of those things that’s so good, it’s annoying! haha! great post, looking forward to seeing all the quotes!

  2. On the back of my business card I have a quote:

    “The story is not in the plot but in the telling.” Ursula K. LeGuin

  3. “Of all the voices you’ll hear …, the most difficult to subdue may be that of jealousy. Jealousy is such a direct attack on whatever measure of confidence you’ve been able to muster. But if you continue to write, you are probably going to have to deal with it, because some wonderful, dazzling successes are going to happen for some of the most awful, angry, undeserving writers you know – people who are, in other words, not you.” Anne Lamott

    I love your number 10, too.

  4. Much quoted recently, but I love the late Elmore Leonard’s advice: “Try to leave out the part readers tend to skip.”

  5. Love the Mark Twain quote. Also, you are right about #10…brilliant and yet so simple we all should have thought of it!

  6. I love the last one. What an excellent an example of how to write well.

  7. Reading quotes on writing is so very inspiring to me.
    “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.”
    -Robert Frost
    “I never exactly made a book. It’s rather like taking dictation. I was given things to say. ”
    – C.S. Lewis

  8. I love these (especially no. 10) so much that I’ve bookmarked the page. I have two to share.

    1. My all time favorite is this one:
    “The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair.” ― Mary Heaton Vorse

    2. This one I stumbled across on tumblr:
    “It’s like standing on the edge of a cliff. This is especially true of the first draft. Every day you’re making up the earth you’re going to stand on.” ― Peter Carey

  9. I love this! Tweeting it now!

  10. I like all of these! I particularly relate to no.3 and no.6 because I never seem to write the way other people do, or strictly according to the rules.

  11. I know there are some I like, but I can’t think of them right now, hehe. I like those sort of quotes you have posted that are more practical than slushy if you know what I mean!

  12. “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” Stephen King

  13. My favorite writing quote comes from a sports shoe company. “Just do it!”

  14. Some of the ones you mentioned — I can’t think of any others right now, but I will, and I’ll toss them over when I think of them. These are good!

  15. You’ve mentioned my favourites by Kurt Vonnegut (#2), Mark Twain (#4), Hemingway (#8). I now love #10.
    All are inspiring.

  16. Wonderful quotes from you and the readers! Here’s one I like: “There is only one plot—things are not what they seem.”
    —Jim Thompson


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