Advice from Authors: Top Ten Quotes on Writing


Now that submissions are open, you’re probably trying to scramble to come up with your next amazing poem or write down that short story idea you’ve thought about all summer. Sometimes writing can be difficult and that’s okay, even our literary heroes had their share of trials and tribulations in writing. Here’s some advice for when the words don’t come easy, or sometimes at all.


Top TenQuotes onWriting

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

—Ernest Hemmingway

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

—Stephen King

3. “Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.”

—Mark Twain

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

—Jack Kerouac

5. “And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”

—Sylvia Plath

6. “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

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

—Henry David Thoreau

8. “A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.”

—Thomas Mann

9. “You must write every single day of your life… You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads… may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.”

—Ray Bradbury

10. “A word after a word after a word is power.”

—Margaret Atwood

And one extra secret bonus track, for when you do write something, and it’s good, and we accept it:

 “The first problem of any kind of even limited success is the unshakable conviction that you are getting away with something, and that any moment now they will discover you. It’s Imposter Syndrome, something my wife Amanda christened the Fraud Police.

In my case, I was convinced that there would be a knock on the door, and a man with a clipboard (I don’t know why he carried a clipboard, in my head, but he did) would be there, to tell me it was all over, and they had caught up with me, and now I would have to go and get a real job, one that didn’t consist of making things up and writing them down, and reading books I wanted to read. And then I would go away quietly and get the kind of job where you don’t have to make things up any more.”

—Neil Gaiman