Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Quotations about Writing Part 2: 20th Century Writers


You have to know how to accept rejection and reject acceptance.
Ray Bradbury, American fantasy, science fiction, 
horror and mystery writer (1920 - 2012)


This post is a continuation of Monday’s post, Quotations about Writing Part 1: Early Writers.

Hopefully some of these quotes from other writers will inspire you, make you think, make you laugh, or be useful to you as a writer in some way.

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Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.
Cyril Connolly, English literary critic, writer (1903 - 1974)

The role of a writer is not to say what we all can say, but what we are unable to say.
Anaïs Nin, French-cuban author, (1903 – 1977)

The function of art is to renew our perception. What we are familiar with we cease to see. The writer shakes up the familiar scene, and, as if by magic, we see a new meaning in it.
Anaïs Nin, French-cuban author, (1903 – 1977)

Write something to suit yourself and many people will like it; write something to suit everybody and scarcely anyone will care for it.
Jesse Stuart American short story writer, poet, novelist (1907 – 1984)

Writers should be read, but neither seen nor heard.
Daphne du Maurier, English author, playwright (1907 - 1989)

The only reason for being a professional writer is that you can't help it.
Leo Rosten, Polish-born american writer (1908 - 1997)

Hard writing makes easy reading.
Wallace Stegner, American historian, novelist (1909 – 1993)

I love being a writer. What I can't stand is the paperwork.
Peter De Vries, American editor, novelist (1910 – 1993)

When I stop working the rest of the day is posthumous. I'm only really alive when I'm writing.
Tennessee Williams, American writer, playwright (1911 – 1983)

Writing is like a contact sport, like football. You can get hurt, but you enjoy it.
Irwin Shaw, American playwright, screenwriter, novelist (1913 – 1984)

A good editor understands what you're talking and writing about and doesn't meddle too much.
Irwin Shaw, American screenwriter, playwright, novelist (1913 – 1984)

Revision is one of the exquisite pleasures of writing.
Bernard Malamud, American novelist, 1914 – 1986

There is only one way to defeat the enemy, and that is to write as well as one can. The best argument is an undeniably good book.
Saul Bellow, Canadian-born American writer (1915 - 2005)

The whole point of writing is to have something in your gut or in your soul or in your mind that's burning to be written.
Jerome Lawrence, American playwright, author (1915 – 2004)

I love writing about my job because I loved it, and it was a particularly interesting one when I was a young man. It was like holidays with pay to me.
James Herriot, British Veternarian/Writer 1916 – 1995

The part of my writing I find the most rewarding is when people write to me or speak to me in public to tell me how his or her life has been changed by my books.
Sidney Sheldon, American writer (1917 – 2007)

I felt that I had to write. Even if I had never been published, I knew that I would go on writing, enjoying it and experiencing the challenge.
Gwendolyn Brooks, American poet (1917 – 2000)

Inspiration is wonderful when it happens, but the writer must develop an approach for the rest of the time... The wait is simply too long.
Leonard Bernstein, American composer, conductor, author (1918 - 1990)

If you're a singer you lose your voice. A baseball player loses his arm. A writer gets more knowledge, and if he's good, the older he gets, the better he writes.
Mickey Spillane, Americn author of crime novels, (1918 – 2006)

Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers.
Issac Asimov, American author, professor of biochemistry (1919 – 1991)

You must keep sending work out; you must never let a manuscript do nothing but eat its head off in a drawer. You send that work out again and again, while you're working on another one. If you have talent, you will receive some measure of success - but only if you persist.
Isaac Asimov, American author, professor of biochemistry (1920 - 1992)

My stories run up and bite me on the leg-I respond by writing down everything that goes on during the bite. When I finish, the idea lets go and runs off.
Ray Bradbury, Novelist, 1920 – 2012

If you can't annoy somebody, there's little point in writing.
Kingsley William Amis, English novelist, poet (1922 – 1995)

Artists don't talk about art. Artists talk about work. If I have anything to say to young writers, it's stop thinking of writing as art. Think of it as work.
Paddy Chayefsky, American playwright, screenwriter, novelist (1923 – 1981)

Getting even is one reason for writing.
William Gass, American novelist (1924 - )

To me, the greatest pleasure of writing is not what it's about, but the music the words make.
Truman Capote, American author (1924 – 1984)

I believe more in the scissors than I do in the pencil.
Truman Capote, American author (1924 – 1984)

Writing, basically breaks down to relationships between people and that is what you write about.
Leon Uris, American novelist, 1924 – 2003

I enjoy writing, sometimes I think that most writers will tell you about the agony of writing more than the joy of writing, but writing is what I was meant to do.
Leon Uris American novelist (1924 – 2003)

In writing and politicking, it's best not to think about it, just do it.
Gore Vidal, American writer (1925 – 2012)

The writer's duty is to keep on writing.
William Styron, American novelist, essayist (1925 – 2006)

Writing and rewriting are a constant search for what it is one is saying.
John Updike, American novelist, poet, short story writer (1932 – 2009)

Once I discovered the endless fascination of doing the research and of doing the writing, I knew I had found what I wanted to do in my life.
David McCullough, American author (1933 - )

There's an awful temptation to just keep on researching. There comes a point where you just have to stop, and start writing.
David McCullough, American author, historian (1933 - )

I write entirely to find out what I'm thinking, what I'm looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear.
Joan Didion, American author and journalist (1934 - )

Books and all forms of writing are terror to those who wish to suppress the truth.
Wole Soyinka, Nigerian writer, playwright and poet. (1934 - )

No letter from a lover is ever more welcome, brings more joy, than a publisher's expression of interest does to a new author!
Judith Brocklehurst, author (1936 – 2008)

Someone who wants to write should make an effort to write a little something every day. Writing in this sense is the same as athletes who practice a sport every day to keep their skills honed.
Anita Desai, Indian novelist (1937 - )

If the desire to write is not accompanied by actual writing, then the desire must be not to write.
Hugh Prather, American writer (1938 – 2010)

A ratio of failures is built into the process of writing. The wastebasket has evolved for a reason.
Margaret Atwood, Canadian novelist, critic, poet, essayist (1939 –

I loved words. I love to sing them and speak them and even now, I must admit, I have fallen into the joy of writing them.
Anne Rice, American author (1941 - )

Good writing gives energy, whatever it is about.
Marilyn Hacker, American poet, critic (1942 - )

Keep writing. Getting from page four to page five is more important than spending three weeks getting page four perfect.
Alan Dean Foster, American author (1946 - )

What I do say is that I can write verse, and that the writing of verse in strict form is the best possible training for writing good prose.
Philip Pullman, English writer, (1946 –

If you don't have the time to read, you don't have the time or the tools to write.
Stephen King, American author (1947 - )

Writing is one of the few professions in which you can psychoanalyze yourself, get rid of hostilities and frustrations in public, and get paid for it.
Octavia Butler, American science fiction writer (1947 – 2006)

Writing is an extreme privilege but it's also a gift. It's a gift to yourself and it's a gift of giving a story to someone.
Amy Tan, American writer (1952 - )

Writing is hard for me, ... every critic and reader in the world is looking over my shoulder and shaking their heads about how bad that last sentence turned out.
Tess Gerritsen, Chinese-American novelist (1953 - )

I always tell people that I became a writer not because I went to school but because my mother took me to the library. I wanted to become a writer so I could see my name in the card catalog.
Sandra Cisneros, American writer, (1954 – )

Writing gives you the illusion of control, and then you realize it's just an illusion, that people are going to bring their own stuff into it.
David Sedaris, 2005 American humorist, author (1956 - )

When you surf, the ultimate goal is to get into a pipeline where the water circles around you and that's all there is. In writing, it's the same thing. You want to get into this pipeline where the story is circling around you and that's all there is. That is writing nirvana to me.
Michael Connelly, American author, (1956 - )

Everything in writing begins with language. Language begins with listening.
Jeanette Winterson, British writer (1959 - )

The most difficult part of writing a book is not devising a plot which will captivate the reader. It's not developing characters the reader will have strong feelings for or against. It is not finding a setting which will take the reader to a place he or she as never been. It is not the research, whether in fiction or non-fiction. The most difficult task facing a writer is to find the voice in which to tell the story.
Randy Pausch, American professor of computer science, author (1960 – 2008) "The Last Lecture."

Writing well means never having to say, 'I guess you had to be there.'
Jef Mallett, American artist, writer (1962 - )

Most of my work consisted of crossing out. Crossing out was the secret of all good writing.
Mark Haddon, English novelist/poet, (1962 – )

It's hard for me to show work while I'm writing, because other people's comments will influence what happens.
Donna Tartt, American writer, (1963 – )

A great writer reveals the truth even when he or she does not wish to.
Tom Bissell, American journalist, fiction writer (1974 - )

1 comment:

elizabethbrinton said...

Here I am up in the middle of the night. I can't sleep because my mind churns on about my novel. Being stalled currently and seeking a new direction for the revision, I turn to this blog and find inspiration. As Margaret Atwood said, "The waste basket was invented for a reason." The whole work cannot even fit into my receptacle, so I will have to figure out what stays and what should go.