10 Quotations on Writing by the Greats

Often when I find myself in need of a writing pick-me-up, I turn to the classic writers for inspiration.

Whatever their genre, these ten authors had a way of expressing an aspect of writing  unlike any other. Whether the subject matter was the nature of writing (Roald Dahl), advice (Carl Sandburg), or simply a captured essence (Leonard Cohen), each of these master’s have something particularly profound to put you in the literary mood.

“I don’t care if a reader hates one of my stories, just as long as he finishes the book.”

―Roald Dahl

“We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.”

―Ernest Hemingway

“Beware of advice—even this.”

―Carl Sandburg

“Writing is not necessarily something to be ashamed of, but do it in private and wash your hands afterwards.”

—Robert A. Heinlein

“You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.”

―Madeleine L’Engle

“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

“The road to hell is paved with adverbs.”

― Stephen King

“A good novel tells us the truth about its hero; but a bad novel tells us the truth about its author.”

― G.K. Chesterton

GK Chesterton


“I have claimed that Escape is one of the main functions of fairy-stories, and since I do not disapprove of them, it is plain that I do not accept the tone of scorn or pity with which ‘Escape’ is now so often used. Why should a man be scorned if, finding himself in prison, he tries to get out and go home? Or if he cannot do so, he thinks and talks about other topics than jailers and prison-walls?”

― J.R.R. Tolkien

“Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash.”

― Leonard Cohen

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