50+ Inspiring Quotes About Writing and Writers

by Joe Bunting | 6 comments

The best way to become a better writer is to write and then to publish your writing, whether you publish it on a blog, in a book, or with a close friend. It's only by practicing writing, and getting feedback on it, that you can improve.

37+ Quotes about How to Become a Writer

That being said, it never hurts to learn from those who have gone before you, and over the years, we've compiled a lot of excellent advice from the best writers on how to become a better writer.

My Top 5 Writing Quotes:

  • “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
  • “There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.” —Somerset Maugham
  • “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
  • “Get through a draft as quickly as possible.” —Joshua Wolf Shenk

Favorite Quotes from Writers in Our Community

I asked authors in our community for their favorite quotes on writing or being a writer, and here's what they sent me.

1. How You Write a Book, According to Neil Gaiman

From Carole Wolfe, author of My Best Mistakeand M MacKinnon, author of The Comyn's Curse:

Writing Quotes - The Write Practice

2. Why We Write, According to Walt Whitman

From Melanie Lambert, author of Wonder Woman in Disguise:

Walt Whitman Writing Quote The Write Practice

“We don't read and write poetry because it's cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. So medicine, law, business, engineering… these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love… these are what we stay alive for.”

― Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

3. What You Must Write, According to Toni Morrison

From Michelle Dalton, author of Epona, and Joslyn Chase, author of Steadman's Blind:

Toni Morrison Writing Quote The Write Practice

4. How to Write the Right Word, According to Mark Twain

From Ichabod Ebenezer, author of A Shadow Stained in Blood:

Mark Twain Writing Quote The Write Practice

5. What Writing Is, According to Isaac Asimov

From Jeff Elkins, author of Grab:

Isaac Asimov Writing Quote The Write Practice

6. On the Path to Writing Success, According to Octavia E. Butler

From S.J. Henderson, author of Daniel the Drawer:

Octavia E Butler Writing Quote The Write Practice

“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

7. Why We Doubt Our Own Writing, According to Ira Glass

From Ross Boone, author of The Absent Landlord

Ira Glass Writing Quote The Write Practice

“All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. . . . For the first couple years you make stuff, it's just not that good. . . . But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you.” —Ira Glass

8. Why Writing Requires Empathy, According to John Barth (and Sarah Gribble)

From Sarah Gribble, author of The Hike:

Sarah Gribble Writing Quote The Write Practice

“Everyone is necessarily the hero of his own life story.” John Barth

In other words:

More Favorite Writing Quotes

Need more writing quotes? Read on for more of our favorites:

9. Why You Became a Writer, According to Gloria Steinem

Writing is the only thing that when I do it, I don't feel I should be doing something else. Gloria Steinem

10. Why You Became a Writer, According to George Orwell

You write out of the desire to seem clever, to be talked about, to be remembered after death, etc., etc., etc. It is humbug to pretend this is not a motive and a strong one. George Orwell

“[You write out of the] desire to seem clever, to be talked about, to be remembered after death, etc., etc., etc. It is humbug to pretend this is not a motive and a strong one.” —George Orwell

11. Why You Became a Writer, According to Anaïs Nin

We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect. Anais Nin

12. That Doesn't Mean Writing Is Easy

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

“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

13. Start Writing Now

Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on. Louis L'Amour

Need more grammar help? My favorite tool that helps find grammar problems and even generates reports to help improve my writing is ProWritingAid. Works with Word, Scrivener, Google Docs, and web browsers. Also, be sure to use my coupon code to get 25 percent off: WritePractice25

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14. And Write Quickly

Get through a draft as quickly as possible. Joshua Wolf Shenk

15. What To Write About

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

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

16. Be Willing to Write Badly

Be willing to write really badly. Jennifer Egan

17. Don't Doubt Yourself

The worst enemy to creativity is self doubt. Sylvia Plath

18. All Great Writers Are a Little Crazy

The good writing of any age has always been the product of someone's neurosis. William Styron

“The good writing of any age has always been the product of someone's neurosis.” —William Styron

19. The Only Way to Fail As a Writer…

You fail only if you stop writing. Ray Bradbury

20. Just Write One True Sentence

All you have to do is write one true sentence. Writer the truest sentence that you know. Ernest Hemingway

21. Just Write Something Simple

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

22. Your Big Ideas are Worthless

Ideas are cheap. It's the Execution that is all important. George R.R. Martin

23. Really Worthless

It doesn't matter how many book ideas you have if you can't finish writing your book. Joe Bunting

(I don't consider myself the equal of George R.R. Martin, Ernest Hemingway, or Sylvia Plath… yet… but this quote seemed important to include.)

24. Don't Let Anything Interfere With Your Writing

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

“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

25. Keep At It

I believe myself that a good writer doesn't really need to be told anything except to keep at it. Chinua Achebe

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

26. Write Even When the World is Chaotic

Write even when the world is chaotic. Cory Doctorow

27. The Mark of a Master Writer

The mark of a master is to select only a few moments but to give us a lifetime. Robert McKee

“The mark of a master is to select only a few moments but to give us a lifetime.” —Robert McKee

28. No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader.

No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. Robert Frost

29. Stay Drunk on Writing

You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you. Ray Bradbury

30. Writing is like kissing

I can't write without a reader. It's precisely like a kiss—you can't do it alone. John Cheever

31. Don't Make a Chore for Your Readers

So the writer who breeds more words than he needs is making a chore for the reader who reads. Dr. Seuss

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

32. Show, Don't Tell

Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass. Anton Chekhov

33. How to Develop Your Own Style

It is only be writing, not dreaming about it, that we develop our own style. PD James

34. Writing is More Difficult for Us

A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people. Thomas Mann

35. No One Knows the Rules

There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are. Somerset Maugham

36. The best way to become a writer

The best way to be a writer is to be a writer. Augusten Burroghs

37. Always Listen to Ben Franklin

Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing. Benjamin Franklin

38. Your Words Have Power

39. Chase Your Dream

40. Writing in the Dark

41. Turn the Monsters Loose

42. Stories Are All Around You

43. Write Now

44. The Secret Professional Writers Know

45. Follow Your Hero

46. Exercise Your Writing Muscle

47. But Actually, Exercise Your Writing Muscle

“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

48. Your Writing Is Your Strength

49. The Real Challenge: Avoiding Distraction

50. Just Tell a Story

“I have been successful probably because I have always realized that I knew nothing about writing and have merely tried to tell an interesting story entertainingly.” —Edgar Rice Burroughs

51. Perseverance Is Key

52. Your Villains Think They've Got it Right

53. Write First, Edit Later

54. Your Hero's Job

55. Plan, Then Adjust

56. Read, Read, Then Read Some More

57. How to Keep Your Readers Hooked

Need more grammar help? My favorite tool that helps find grammar problems and even generates reports to help improve my writing is ProWritingAid. Works with Word, Scrivener, Google Docs, and web browsers. Also, be sure to use my coupon code to get 25 percent off: WritePractice25

Coupon Code:WritePractice25 »

Which quote is your favorite? Let us know in the comments.

PRACTICE

Write something worth reading! Spend fifteen minutes free writing or working on a work in progress. As you write, channel the advice from the great writers above.

When your time is up, post your practice in the Pro Practice Workshop and encourage each other with your own writing wisdom! 

Happy writing!

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Joe Bunting is an author and the leader of The Write Practice community. He is also the author of the new book Crowdsourcing Paris, a real life adventure story set in France. It was a #1 New Release on Amazon. Follow him on Instagram (@jhbunting).

Want best-seller coaching? Book Joe here.

6 Comments

  1. Kieran Meyer

    This happened while I was working on the day I wrote this. Since the prompt was so open ended, I decided to write about the tough day. I don’t really know why I chose not to give him a name; it’s just something I felt like trying.

    Reply
  2. Susan W A

    Good job, mama. Magical times. Do you create bedtime stories for your son? My son (who is 13 now) used to tell me, “Mama, make up a story for me.” I was terrible at it. If that’s something you can do, even if you aren’t able to write them down, that will be your writing practice for the day AND an amazing connection with and gift for your son. Also, be sure to relish in his language development; this is the perfect time to notice his amazing leaps forward. If you haven’t explored using sign language with little kids, it’s a lot of fun and a great way to support their language development. If you have a moment (yeah, right, didn’t you hear I have a two-year-old?), check out http://www.signingtime.com/company/about-us/story/

    Reply
    • Caritha Marks

      Thanks for the wonderful tips. I think making up stories for your child is a great idea. I did try a little signing with my son, unfortunately, I didn’t get past the first ten essentials. I was actually hoping to learn this new language with him, but I didn’t fight hard enough for it. Of course, it’s never too late to start again. Thanks!

  3. Joy

    I really liked this, David! It flows very easily
    “Writing free or freely writingIs writing ever really free?”
    I love that! Writing has a cost, a cost that’s worth it.

    Reply
  4. Joy

    -Spring Storm-

    Raindrops hit my window and glide down the glass.
    A flash of lighting. A roar of thunder.
    The evergreen tree sways in the wind.
    The weather alarm sounds its obnoxious alert; there’s a hail advisory.
    The trees in the distance are gray and blurred against the rain-hazed sky.
    A lone leaf spirals to the ground.
    pitter patter…
    A thousand tiny hailstones land on the fresh spring grass and clink against my window.
    The window is smeared as if I’m wearing someone else’s glasses.
    A car drives up the street, water spraying from under its tires.
    The rain falls gently now.
    The grass brightens and puddles of water dot the yard.
    There’s a pastel blue sky.
    Soft.
    Hopeful.
    The storm has left me.

    Reply
  5. Leela Panikar

    Yes, Chekhov the best advice.

    Reply

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