Thursday, 23 December 2010

Write wit

For Christmas: some quotes and quips about writers and writing.
We’ve all heard that a million monkeys banging on a million typewriters will eventually reproduce the entire works of Shakespeare.  Now, thanks to the Internet, we know this is not true.

The best way to become a successful writer is to read good writing, remember it, and then forget where you remember it from.
Gene Fowler

If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn't brood. I'd type a little faster.
Isaac Asimov

Write as if you are dying.
Annie Dillard

Writing is the only profession where no one considers you ridiculous if you earn no money.
Jules Renard

The profession of book writing makes horse racing seem like a solid, stable business.
John Steinbeck

Writing is no trouble: you just jot down ideas as they occur to you. The jotting is simplicity itself - it is the occurring which is difficult.
Stephen Leacock

A writer is someone for whom writing is much harder than it is for the others.
Ken Laws

I write when I am inspired, and I see to it that I’m inspired at nine o’clock every morning.
Peter de Vries

Having imagination, it takes you an hour to write a paragraph that, if you were unimaginative, would take you only a minute.  Or you might not write the paragraph at all.
Franklin P Adams

Writing is easy.  All you do is stare at a blank piece of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.
Gene Fowler

There’s nothing to writing.  All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.
W W ‘Red’ Smith

What no wife of a writer can ever understand is that a writer is working when he’s staring out of the window.
Burton Rascoe

What is written without effort is in general read without pleasure.
Samuel Johnson

That writer does the most, who gives his reader the most knowledge, and takes from him the least time.
Charles Caleb Colton

Never use a big word where a diminutive one will suffice.
The waste basket is the writer’s best friend.

Editors don’t reject writers;  they reject pieces of paper that have been typed on.
Isaac Asimov

Writers should be read but not seen. Rarely are they a winsome sight.
Edna Ferber

When audiences come to see us authors lecture, it is largely in the hope that we'll be funnier to look at than read
Sinclair Lewis
Punctuation is the sound of your voice on paper.
Joseph Collignan

English spelling is weird...or is it wierd?
Irwin Hill

The role of the writer is not to say what we can all say, but what we are unable to say.
Anais Nin

What I like in a good author is not what he says, but what he whispers.
Logan Pearsall Smith

How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.
Henry David Thoreau

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

How do I know what I think until I see what I say?
E M Forster

There are a thousand thoughts lying within a man that he does not know till he takes up a pen to write.
William Thackeray

He can compress the most words into the smallest ideas of any man I ever met.
Abraham Lincoln

It took me fifteen years to discover that I had no talent for writing, but I couldn’t give it up because by then I was too famous.
Robert Benchley

There’s many a bestseller that could have been prevented by a good teacher.
Flannery O’Connor

It is still an unending source of surprise for me how a few scribbles on a blackboard or on a piece of paper can change the course of human affairs.
Stanislaw Ulam

We do not write in order to be understood;  we write in order to understand.
Robert Cecil Day-Lewis

Any proper writer ought to be able to write anything from an Easter Day sermon to a sheep-dip handout.
Sir Kingsley Amis

To sum it all up, if you want to write, if you want to create, you must be the most sublime fool that God ever turned out and sent rambling.  You must write every single day of your life, you must read dreadful dumb books and glorious books, and let them wrestle in beautiful fights inside your head, vulgar one moment, brilliant the next.  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.  I wish for you a wrestling match with your Creative Muse that will last a lifetime.  I wish craziness and foolishness and madness upon you.  May you live with hysteria, and out of it make fine stories.
Ray Bradbury

POSTSCRIPT: See also my April 2012 post: Write wit 2 and my December 2012 post Write wit 3.


  1. Wow, great collection here!

    Some made me laugh; others are profound.

    Thanks. :)

  2. Hi David,

    Happy Friday :D
    Just wanted to tell you that the book of quotations that you wrote/compiled is practically my bible. It really gives me much pleasure to read.

    Thankyou. Your book has improved my life :D


  3. Wow, anonymous, you've just made my weekend with that generous comment. Paula and I are just about to go down town for a meal, and we will raise a glass to you for the nice feeling you have given us. Now, if you care to go to the entry for my quotations book on Amazon and say the same thing as a customer review that would be doubly thrilling. :-) Thank you so much - I wish I knew your name.

  4. I see you did indeed leave an Amazon review for me. That's very kind and much appreciated.

  5. Rafe S has reminded me of a deliciously ambiguous quote from James Thurber: "I'm not always writing when I'm writing."