100+ Quotes About Creative Writing

Writing can feel lonely sometimes. You’re the only one aware of your story ideas and character creation process. You’re the only person cheering yourself on as you make each story come to life. Reading quotes about creative writing can battle that loneliness and even inspire you.

These are some of the most famous inspirational quotes from and about writers. Use them to recharge your creative batteries and feel encouraged to keep chasing your creative goals.

100+ Quotes About Creative Writing

“You should write because you love the shape of stories and sentences and the creation of different words on a page. Writing comes from reading, and reading is the finest teacher of how to write.”

—Annie Proulx

“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! You’ll absorb it. Then write. If it’s good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out of the window.”

—William Faulkner

“The Six Golden Rules of Writing: Read, read, read, and write, write, write.”

—Ernest Gaines

“Read a thousand books, and your words will flow like a river.”

―Lisa See

“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”

—Toni Morrison

“Find a subject you care about and which you in your heart feel others should care about. It is this genuine caring, not your games with language, which will be the most compelling and seductive element in your style.”

—Stephen King

“When I sit down to write a book, I do not say to myself, ‘I am going to produce a work of art.’ I write it because there is some lie that I want to expose, some fact to which I want to draw attention, and my initial concern is to get a hearing.”

—George Orwell

“You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.”

—Madeleine L’Engle

“Cheat your landlord if you can and must, but do not try to shortchange the Muse. It cannot be done. You can’t fake quality any more than you can fake a good meal.”

—William S. Burroughs

“The story must strike a nerve in me. My heart should start pounding when I hear the first line in my head. I start trembling at the risk.”

—Susan Sontag

“As for ‘Write what you know,’ I was regularly told this as a beginner. I think it’s a very good rule and have always obeyed it. I write about imaginary countries, alien societies on other planets, dragons, wizards, the Napa Valley in 22002. I know these things. I know them better than anybody else possibly could, so it’s my duty to testify about them.”

—Ursula K. Le Guin

“Ideas are cheap. It’s the execution that is all important.”

—George R.R. Martin

“To gain your own voice, you have to forget about having it heard.”

—Allen Ginsberg

“No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.”

—Robert Frost

“Voice is not just the result of a single sentence or paragraph or page. It’s not even the sum total of a whole story. It’s all your work laid out across the table like the bones and fossils of an unidentified carcass.”

—Chuck Wendig

“Your writing voice is the deepest possible reflection of who you are. The job of your voice is not to seduce or flatter or make well-shaped sentences. In your voice, your readers should be able to hear the contents of your mind, your heart, your soul.”

—Meg Rosoff

“Literature is strewn with the wreckage of men who have minded beyond reason the opinions of others.”

—Virginia Woolf

“There are some books that refuse to be written. They stand their ground year after year and will not be persuaded. It isn’t because the book is not there and worth being written—it is only because the right form of the story does not present itself. There is only one right form for a story and, if you fail to find that form, the story will not tell itself.”

—Mark Twain

“First, find out what your hero wants, then just follow him.”

—Ray Bradbury

“Focus more on your desire than on your doubt, and the dream will take care of itself.”

—Mark Twain

“It’s none of their business that you have to learn to write. Let them think you were born that way.”

—Ernest Hemingway

“If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word.”

—Margaret Atwood

“I am not at all in a humor for writing; I must write on until I am.”

—Jane Austen

“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

“You can fix anything but a blank page.”

—Nora Roberts

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at the typewriter and bleed.”

—Ernest Hemingway

“Get through a draft as quickly as possible.”

—Joshua Wolf Shenk

“The first draft of everything is shit.”

—Ernest Hemingway

“Be willing to write really badly.”

—Jennifer Egan

“I would advise any beginning writer to write the first drafts as if no one else will ever read them—without a thought about publication—and only in the last draft to consider how the work will look from the outside.”

—Anne Tyler

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

—Tom Clancy

“You fail only if you stop writing.”

—Ray Bradbury

“I believe myself that a good writer doesn’t really need to be told anything except to keep at it.”

—Chinua Achebe

“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

“It is by sitting down to write every morning that one becomes a writer.”

—Gerald Brenan

“You just have to go on when it is worst and most helpless—there is only one thing to do with a novel and that is go straight on through to the end of the damn thing.”

—Ernest Hemingway

“The nearest I have to a rule is a Post-it on the wall in front of my desk saying ‘Faire et se taire’ from Flaubert. Which I translate for myself as ‘Shut up and get on with it.’”

—Helen Simpson

“Any man who keeps working is not a failure. He may not be a great writer, but if he applies the old-fashioned virtues of hard, constant labor, he’ll eventually make some kind of career for himself as a writer.”

—Ray Bradbury

“A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.”

—Richard Bach

“When your story is ready for a rewrite, cut it to the bone. Get rid of every ounce of excess fat. This is going to hurt; revising a story down to the bare essentials is always a little like murdering children, but it must be done.”

—Stephen King

“Editing might be a bloody trade, but knives aren’t the exclusive property of butchers. Surgeons use them too.”

—Blake Morrison

“You write to communicate to the hearts and minds of others what’s burning inside you, and we edit to let the fire show through the smoke.”

—Arthur Plotnik

“I’m all for the scissors. I believe more in the scissors than I do in the pencil.”

—Truman Capote

“I’ve found the best way to revise your own work is to pretend that somebody else wrote it and then to rip the living shit out of it.”

―Don Roff

“So the writer who breeds more words than he needs, is making a chore for the reader who reads.”

―Dr. Seuss

“I would write a book, or a short story, at least three times—once to understand it, the second time to improve the prose, and a third to compel it to say what it still must say. Somewhere I put it this way: first drafts are for learning what one’s fiction wants him to say. Revision works with that knowledge to enlarge and enhance an idea, to reform it. Revision is one of the exquisite pleasures of writing.”

—Bernard Malamud

“Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now.”

—Annie Dillard

“A writer is a world trapped in a person.”

—Victor Hugo

“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

“I am irritated by my own writing. I am like a violinist whose ear is true, but whose fingers refuse to reproduce precisely the sound he hears within.”

—Gustave Flaubert

“I go out to my little office, where I’ve got a manuscript, and the last page I was happy with is on top. I read that, and it’s like getting on a taxiway. I’m able to go through and revise it and put myself—click—back into that world.”

—Stephen King

“Each writer is born with a repertory company in his head. Shakespeare has perhaps 20 players. I have 10 or so, and that’s a lot. As you get older, you become more skillful at casting them.”

—Gore Vidal

“The task of a writer consists of being able to make something out of an idea.”

—Thomas Mann

“Many people hear voices when no one is there. Some of them are called mad and are shut up in rooms where they stare at the walls all day. Others are called writers and they do pretty much the same thing.”

—Margaret Chittenden

“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”

—Benjamin Franklin

“Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.”

—Gloria Steinem

“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.”

—Anais Nin

“The very reason I write is so that I might not sleepwalk through my entire life.”

—Zadie Smith

“No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world.”

—Robin Williams

“You can make anything by writing.”

—C.S. Lewis

“You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.”

—Ray Bradbury

“My own experience is that once a story has been written, one has to cross out the beginning and the end. It is there that we authors do most of our lying.”

—Anton Chekhov

“Any word you have to hunt for in a thesaurus is the wrong word. There are no exceptions to this rule.”

—Stephen King

“Find your best time of the day for writing and write. Don’t let anything else interfere. Afterwards it won’t matter to you that the kitchen is a mess.”

—Esther Freud

“To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme.”

—Herman Melville

“The difference between the almost right word and the right word is the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.”

—Mark Twain

“Exercise the writing muscle every day, even if it is only a letter, notes, a title list, a character sketch, a journal entry. Writers are like dancers, like athletes. Without that exercise, the muscles seize up.”

—Jane Yolen

“My aim in constructing sentences is to make the sentence utterly easy to understand, writing what I call transparent prose. I’ve failed dreadfully if you have to read a sentence twice to figure out what I meant.”

—Ken Follett

“Rejection slips, or form letters, however tactfully phrased, are lacerations of the soul, if not quite inventions of the devil—but there is no way around them.”

—Isaac Asimov

“I love my rejection slips. They show me I try.”

—Sylvia Plath

“This manuscript of yours that has just come back from another editor is a precious package. Don’t consider it rejected. Consider that you’ve addressed it ‘to the editor who can appreciate my work’ and it has simply come back stamped ‘Not at this address’. Just keep looking for the right address.”

—Barbara Kingsolver

“Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.”

—Neil Gaiman

“I think that you have to believe in your destiny; that you will succeed, you will meet a lot of rejection and it is not always a straight path, there will be detours—so enjoy the view.”

—Michael York

“I tell writers to keep reading, reading, reading. Read widely and deeply. And I tell them not to give up even after getting rejection letters. And only write what you love.”

—Anita Diamant

“I had immediate success in the sense that I sold something right off the bat. I thought it was going to be a piece of cake and it really wasn’t. I have drawers full of—or I did have—drawers full of rejection slips.”

—Fred Saberhagen

“Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement.”

—C. S. Lewis

“If the book is true, it will find an audience that is meant to read it.”

—Wally Lamb

“Good fiction’s job is to comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.”

—David Foster Wallace

“If you want to change the world, pick up your pen and write.”

—Martin Luther

“All stories have to at least try to explain some small portion of the meaning of life.”

—Gene Weingarten

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

—Tom Clancy

“Indeed, learning to write may be part of learning to read. For all I know, writing comes out of a superior devotion to reading.”

—Eudora Welty

“Don’t take anyone’s writing advice too seriously.”

—Lev Grossman

“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”

—Stephen King

“I kept always two books in my pocket: one to read, one to write in.”

—Robert Louis Stevenson

“The greatest part of a writer’s time is spent in reading, in order to write; a man will turn over half a library to make one book.”

—Samuel Johnson

“One sure window into a person’s soul is his reading list.”

—Mary B. W. Tabor

“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

“Most writers regard the truth as their most valuable possession, and therefore are most economical in its use.”

—Mark Twain

“Write what disturbs you, what you fear, what you have not been willing to speak about. Be willing to be split open.”

—Natalie Goldberg

“How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.”

—Henry David Thoreau

“Write what should not be forgotten.”

—Isabel Allende

“I’m very lucky in that I don’t understand the world yet. If I understood the world, it would be harder for me to write these books.”

—Mo Willems

“If you wait for inspiration to write you’re not a writer, you’re a waiter.”

—Dan Poynter

“One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.”

—Jack Kerouac

“It is only by writing, not dreaming about it, that we develop our own style.”

—P.D. James

“If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it. Or, if proper usage gets in the way, it may have to go. I can’t allow what we learned in English composition to disrupt the sound and rhythm of the narrative.”

—Elmore Leonard

“I don’t want just words. If that’s all you have for me, you’d better go.”

—F. Scott Fitzgerald

“Everywhere I go, I’m asked if the universities stifle writers. My opinion is that they don’t stifle enough of them.”

—Flannery O’Connor

“Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.”

—Louis L’Amour

“All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.”

—Ernest Hemingway

“Being a writer is a very peculiar sort of job: It’s always you versus a blank sheet of paper (or a blank screen) and quite often the blank piece of paper wins.”

—Neil Gaiman

“It doesn’t matter how many book ideas you have if you can’t finish writing your book.”

—Joe Bunting

“A blank piece of paper is God’s way of telling us how hard it is to be God.”

—Sidney Sheldon

“Get it down. Take chances. It may be bad, but it’s the only way you can do anything really good.”

—William Faulkner

“Abandon the idea that you are ever going to finish. Lose track of the 400 pages and write just one page for each day, it helps. Then when it gets finished, you are always surprised.”

—John Steinbeck

“I don’t wait for moods. You accomplish nothing if you do that. Your mind must know it has got to get down to work.”

—Pearl S. Buck

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

—Terry Pratchett

“I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.”

—Douglas Adams

“There is no real ending. It’s just the place where you stop the story.”

—Frank Herbert

“I just give myself permission to suck. I delete about 90 percent of my first drafts, so it doesn’t really matter much if on a particular day I write beautiful and brilliant prose that will stick in the minds of my readers forever, because there’s a 90 percent chance I’m just going to delete whatever I write anyway. I find this hugely liberating.”

—John Green

“On first drafts: It is completely raw, the sort of thing I feel free to do with the door shut—it’s the story undressed, standing up in nothing but its socks and undershorts.”

—Stephen King

“Anyone who says writing is easy isn’t doing it right.”

—Amy Joy

“If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn’t brood. I’d type a little faster.”

—Isaac Asimov

“You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it’s good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it. That’s why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence.”

―Octavia E. Butler

“The secret to being a writer is that you have to write. It’s not enough to think about writing or to study literature or plan a future life as an author. You really have to lock yourself away, alone, and get to work.”

—Augusten Burroughs

“Talent is insignificant. I know a lot of talented ruins. Beyond talent lie all the usual words: discipline, love, luck, but most of all, endurance.”

—James Baldwin

“We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.”

—Kurt Vonnegut

Find Inspiration in Quotes About Creative Writing

Write a few of these quotes about creative writing in sticky notes around your favorite writing place. Record them in the journal you’re currently working in or paint them on your walls. They’ll motivate you to keep going when writing gets tough, but also when you’re celebrating your skills after you finish a great story.

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