23 Kickass Quotes About Writing Every Writer Needs To Know

23 Kickass Quotes About Writing Every Writer Needs To Know

By Neal Martin/ October 20, 2015
Last Updated April 26, 2023

We all need a little inspiration from time to time (in between working our asses off, of course). Inspiration is like the protein that feeds the muscles of creativity and our continued dedication to the craft of writing. One of the best ways I know to get inspired is to read the books of other authors. I get inspired when I see what great things can be done in writing, and I always go away motivated to create something myself.

In a pinch though, quotes are also good. They are like the Chicken McNuggets of inspiration. Not quite as filling as a Big Mac, but they still hit the spot for a while at least.

Not all quotes are created equally. Some are like bumper stickers: easy to say and remember, but meaning very little at the end of the day.

A good quote can make you think and get the ball rolling with your inspiration. It can be the spark to light your creativity, or it can be the thing to make you go, “What the fuck does that even mean?

The following quotes have been handpicked by me for what I deem to be their usefulness in actually teaching you something, and for their inspirational value. Quite a few of the quotes are about the difficulty of writing. If, like me, you often find writing to be like having a fight with a Great White Shark, that big bastard always snapping its jaws every time you try to make a move (write a sentence), until you finally go, “Fine. Fuck you. You win,” and walk away…then you might like some of these quotes.

Suck up these quotes like Popeye chugging a can of spinach until you become like Brody from Jaws and you feel able to kill that big Great White Mutherfucker…or something. Enjoy the quotes 🙂

“Every writer I know has trouble writing.” Joseph Heller

“Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.” George Orwell

“Write. Rewrite. When not writing or rewriting, read. I know of no shortcuts.” Larry L. King

“I do not over-intellectualize the production process. I try to keep it simple: Tell the damned story.” Tom Clancy

“One thing that helps is to give myself permission to write badly. I tell myself that I’m going to do my five or 10 pages no matter what, and that I can always tear them up the following morning if I want. I’ll have lost nothing—writing and tearing up five pages would leave me no further behind than if I took the day off.” Lawrence Block

“If you tell the reader that Bull Beezley is a brutal-faced, loose-lipped bully, with snake’s blood in his veins, the reader’s reaction may be, ‘Oh, yeah!’ But if you show the reader Bull Beezley raking the bloodied flanks of his weary, sweat-encrusted pony, and flogging the tottering, red-eyed animal with a quirt, or have him booting in the protruding ribs of a starved mongrel and, boy, the reader believes!” Fred East

“Beware of advice—even this.” Carl Sandburg

“I would advise anyone who aspires to a writing career that before developing his talent he would be wise to develop a thick hide.” Harper Lee

“People say, ‘What advice do you have for people who want to be writers?’ I say, they don’t really need advice, they know they want to be writers, and they’re gonna do it. Those people who know that they really want to do this and are cut out for it, they know it.” R.L. Stine

“Just write every day of your life. Read intensely. Then see what happens. Most of my friends who are put on that diet have very pleasant careers.” Ray Bradbury

“All good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere. Anne Lamott

“Make it dark, make it grim, make it tough, but then, for the love of God, tell a joke.” Joss Whedon

“You can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.”  Jodi Picoult

“Alternating the thoughtful task of writing with the mindless work of laundry or dish washing will give you the breaks you need for new ideas and insights to occur. If you don’t know what comes next in the story… clean your toilet. Change the bed sheets. For Christ sakes, dust the computer. A better idea will come.” Chuck Palahniuk

“Read, read, read. Read everything — trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read!” William Faulkner

“Writing a novel that works is an extremely difficult thing to do. It requires a level of skill and dedication that always surprises me.” Brett Easton Ellis

“Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly.” Franz Kafka

“I just go to that same daydream-spot inside my head that I’m pretty sure all of us have. I don’t know if people who don’twrite for a living actually meet strangers there, but I do, on a regular basis, and I absolutely insist they arrive with a good problem and tell me about it. There are particularly good spots for productive encounters: there’s a beach I imagine and if I sit long enough and stare down the length of it, I’m sure someone will come walking down it, and most of them are interesting when they arrive. Sometimes I don’t write all I meet, but most of the ones I meet do have interesting backgrounds. And sometimes I find I’m not on that beach at all, but in some space station corridor or in some castle hallway. Once these strangers tell me a little about their worlds I can make up the rest, out of smidges of geology, geography, history, archaeology, and snippets of whole cloth, and once I know their history and their quirks, I can most often figure out the rest of the story. Translation: thinking up new ideas and characters isn’t hard. Writing day and night for months … that’s hard.” C. J. Cherryh

“At one time I used to keep notebooks with outlines for stories. But I found doing this somehow deadened the idea in my imagination. If the notion is good enough, if it truly belongs to you, then you can’t forget it–it will haunt you till it’s written.” Truman Capote

“Everybody wants to feel that you’re writing to a certain demographic because that’s good business, but I’ve never done that … I tried to write stories that would interest me. I’d say, what would I like to read?… I don’t think you can do your best work if you’re writing for somebody else, because you never know what that somebody else really thinks or wants.” Stan Lee

“When I write, I don’t know what is going to emerge. I begin in a condition of complete unknowing, an utter nakedness of concept or goal. A word appears, another word appears, an image. It is a moving into mystery.” Jane Hirshfield

“The less attention I pay to what people want and the more attention I pay to just writing the book I want to write, the better I do.” Lawrence Block

“You simply keep putting down one damn word after the other, as you hear them, as they come to you. You can either set brick as a laborer or as an artist.” Anne Lamott

Having done both, I can safely say that I will take writing over laying bricks any day. People who whine about writing being the hardest thing in the world have never worked on a fucking building site before, much less for years. If they did, they wouldn’t complain about how hard writing is.

Being a writer is greatest job in the fucking world! Live it! Enjoy it! Be great!

Here’s one more for you, perhaps the most important of all:

writing failure

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