Quotes on Writing

(Robert Frost Place, Franconia, New Hampshire)

General Quotes

  • All good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath. -F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Becoming a writer is about becoming conscious. -Anne Lamott

Starting to Write

  • [Writing is] the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair.-Mary Heaton Vorse
  • The hard part is getting to the top of page 1.-Tom Stoppard
  • I don’t wait for moods. You accomplish nothing if you do that.-Pearl S. Buck
  • Much of what we think of as writing is, actually, getting ready to write.-Gail Godwin
  • Don’t try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say.-Barbara Kingsolver


  • You may write for the joy of it, but the act of writing is not complete in itself. It has its ends in its audience.-Flannery O’Connor
  • I can’t write without a reader. It’s precisely like a kiss—you can’t do it alone.-John Cheever


  • Writing is thinking.-Anne Morrow Lindbergh
  • Content comes more easily if you have something to say.-Sholem Asch
  • You don’t write because you want to say something, you write because you have something to say.-F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • I never know what I think about something until I read what I’ve written on it.-William Faulkner


  • Write your draft with your heart. Re-write with your head.-from the movie Finding Forrester

 Revising, Editing, Proofreading

  • I constantly rewrite—an incinerator is a writer’s best friend.-Thornton Wilder
  • Proofread carefully to see if any words out.-Author Unknown
  • I’m not a very good writer, but I’m an excellent rewriter.-James Michener


  • I turn sentences around. That’s my life. I write a sentence and then turn it around.

Then I have lunch.-Philip Roth

  • Whatever sentence will bear to be read twice, we may be sure was thought twice.-Henry David Thoreau
  • Words have weight, sound and appearance; it is only by considering these that you can write a sentence that is good to look at and good to listen to.-W. Somerset Maugham
  • A sentence should contain no more unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts.-William Strunk, Jr.
  • The rule which forbids ending a sentence with a preposition is the kind of nonsense up with which I will not put.-Winston Churchill


  • The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.-Mark Twain
  • I put the words down and push them a bit.-Evelyn Waugh
  • Words set things in motion….Words set up atmospheres, electrical fields, charges.-Toni Cade Bambara
  • Prose is architecture, not interior decoration.-Ernest Hemingway
  • Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.-Rudyard Kipling


  • Cut out all the exclamation marks. An exclamation mark is like laughing at yourself.-F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Punctuation marks are the traffic signals of language.-Lynn Truss
  • Learn punctuation; it is your little drum set, one of the few tools you have to signal the reader where the beats and emphases go.-Annie Dillard


  • The best style is the style you don’t notice.-W. Somerset Maugham
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