Writers on Writing
"The first duty of the novelist is to entertain. It is a moral duty. People who read your books are sick, sad, traveling, in the hospital waiting room while someone is dying. Books are written by the alone for the alone."
-- Donna Tartt
"I try to leave out the parts that people skip."
-- Elmore Leonard
"Convince yourself that you are working in clay, not marble, on paper, not eternal bronze: let that first sentence be as stupid as it wishes. No one will rush out and print it as it stands."
-- Jacques Barzun
"The beautiful part of writing is that you don't have to get it right the first time, unlike, say, a brain surgeon. You can always do it better, find the exact word, the apt phrase, the leaping simile."
-- Robert Cormier
"You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club."
-- Jack London
"If there's a book you really want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it."
-- Toni Morrison
"No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader."
-- Robert Frost
"Books aren't written--they're rewritten. Including your own. It is one of the hardest things to accept, especially after the seventh rewrite hasn't quite done it."
-- Michael Crichton
"I have never thought of myself as a good writer. Anyone who wants reassurance of that should read one of my first drafts. But I'm one of the world's great rewriters."
-- James A. Michener
"Love the writing, love the writing, love the writing... the rest will follow."
-- Jane Yolen
"The best time for planning a book is while you're doing the dishes."
-- Agatha Christie
"As cows need milking and sweet peas need picking, so writers must continually exercise their mental muscles by a daily stint."
-- Joan Aiken
"The mere habit of writing, of constantly keeping at it, of never giving up, ultimately teaches you how to write."
-- Gabriel Fielding
"You can take for granted that people know more or less what a street, a shop, a beach, a sky, an oak tree look like. Tell them what makes this one different."
-- Neil Gaiman
"Good writing is supposed to evoke sensation in the reader- not the fact that it is raining, but the feeling of being rained upon."
-- E.L. Doctorow
"Don't say the old lady screamed- bring her on and let her scream."
-- Mark Twain
"Writers are not just people who sit down and write. They hazard themselves. Every time you compose a book your composition of yourself is at stake."
-- E.L. Doctorow
"Detail makes the difference between boring and terrific writing. It's the difference between a pencil sketch and a lush oil painting. As a writer, words are your paint. Use all the colors."
-- Rhys Alexander
"If you don't have the time to read, you don't have the time or the tools to write."
-- Stephen King
"We do not write because we want to; we write because we have to."
-- W. Somerset Maugham
"You must want to enough. Enough to take all the rejections, enough to pay the price of disappointment and discouragement while you are learning. Like any other artist, you are learning your craft- then you can add all the genius you like."
-- Phyllis Whitney
"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
"This manuscript of yours that has just come back from another editor is a precious package. Don't consider it rejected. Consider that you've addressed it 'to the editor who can appreciate my work' and it has simply come back stamped 'not at this address.' Just keep looking for the right address."
-- Barbara Kingsolver