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50 Pieces Of Writing Advice From Authors

Writers – well, good writers anyway – understand words. They have this uncanny knack of knowing which one to use and when – and just think, there are thousands upon thousands upon thousands of the blighters.

So, when a writer writes about writing, it’s worth taking note. Especially if you’re a budding man (or woman) of letters.

What follows are 50 priceless nuggets of wisdom, 50 slices of self-reflection, 50 explanations as to why writers write. Read, take heed, use and thank us when your novel sits proudly atop the best seller lists…

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(Images: Rex Features, Wiki Commons)

  • 50 Pieces Of Writing Advice From Authors

    E. M. Forster

    “The historian records, but the novelist creates.”

  • 50 Pieces Of Writing Advice From Authors 1

    Mark Twain

    “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.”

  • 50 Pieces Of Writing Advice From Authors 2

    Douglas Adams

    “I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.”

  • 50 Pieces Of Writing Advice From Authors 3

    Maya Angelou

    “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”

  • 50 Pieces Of Writing Advice From Authors 4

    Harper Lee

    “Any writer worth his salt writes to please himself... It's a self-exploratory operation that is endless. An exorcism of not necessarily his demon, but of his divine discontent.”

  • 50 Pieces Of Writing Advice From Authors 5

    George Orwell

    “Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout with some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.”

  • 50 Pieces Of Writing Advice From Authors 6

    Ernest Hemingway

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

  • 50 Pieces Of Writing Advice From Authors 7

    Virginia Woolf

    “Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.”

  • 50 Pieces Of Writing Advice From Authors 8

    Toni Morrison

    “If there's a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it.”

  • 50 Pieces Of Writing Advice From Authors 9

    Truman Capote

    “To me, the greatest pleasure of writing is not what it's about, but the inner music that words make.”

  • 50 Pieces Of Writing Advice From Authors 10

    Saul Bellow

    “You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write.”

  • 50 Pieces Of Writing Advice From Authors 11

    Oscar Wilde

    “There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.”

  • 50 Pieces Of Writing Advice From Authors 12

    Anais Nin

    “We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.”

  • 50 Pieces Of Writing Advice From Authors 13

    Franz Kafka

    “I write differently from what I speak, I speak differently from what I think, I think differently from the way I ought to think, and so it all proceeds into deepest darkness.”

  • 50 Pieces Of Writing Advice From Authors 14

    Robert Frost

    “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.”

  • 50 Pieces Of Writing Advice From Authors 15

    William Faulkner

    “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.”

  • 50 Pieces Of Writing Advice From Authors 16

    Hunter S Thompson

    “Writing is the flip side of sex - it's good only when it's over.”

  • 50 Pieces Of Writing Advice From Authors 17

    Kurt Vonnegut

    “Here is a lesson in creative writing. First rule: Do not use semicolons. They are transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing. All they do is show you've been to college.”

  • 50 Pieces Of Writing Advice From Authors 18

    Charles Dickens

    “I have nothing else to tell; unless, indeed, I were to confess that no one can ever believe this narrative, in the reading, more than I have believed it in the writing.”

  • 50 Pieces Of Writing Advice From Authors 19

    Neil Gaiman

    “Tomorrow may be hell, but today was a good writing day, and on the good writing days nothing else matters.”

  • 50 Pieces Of Writing Advice From Authors 20

    Stephen King

    “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.”

  • 50 Pieces Of Writing Advice From Authors 21

    William Shakespeare

    “And as imagination bodies forth the forms of things unknown, the poet's pen turns them to shapes, and gives to airy nothings a local habitation and a name.”

  • 50 Pieces Of Writing Advice From Authors 22

    C.S. Lewis

    “You can make anything by writing.”

  • 50 Pieces Of Writing Advice From Authors 23

    John Steinbeck

    “Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.”

  • 50 Pieces Of Writing Advice From Authors 24

    Albert Camus

    “The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself.”

  • 50 Pieces Of Writing Advice From Authors 25

    F. Scott Fitzgerald

    “Cut out all these exclamation points. An exclamation point is like laughing at your own joke.”

  • 50 Pieces Of Writing Advice From Authors 26

    Jack London

    “You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.”

  • 50 Pieces Of Writing Advice From Authors 27

    Herman Melville

    “To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme. No great and enduring volume can ever be written on the flea, though many there be that have tried it.”

  • 50 Pieces Of Writing Advice From Authors 28

    John Updike

    “Creativity is merely a plus name for regular activity. Any activity becomes creative when the doer cares about doing it right, or better."

  • 50 Pieces Of Writing Advice From Authors 29

    Raymond Carver

    “Every great or even every very good writer makes the world over according to his own specifications. It’s akin to style, what I’m talking about, but it isn’t style alone. It is the writer’s particular and unmistakable signature on everything he writes. It is his world and no other. This is one of the things that distinguishes one writer from another. Not talent. There’s plenty of that around. But a writer who has some special way of looking at things and who gives artistic expression to that way of looking: that writer may be around for a time.”

  • 50 Pieces Of Writing Advice From Authors 30

    Joseph Conrad

    “My task, which I am trying to achieve is, by the power of the written word, to make you hear, to make you feel - it is, before all, to make you see.”

  • 50 Pieces Of Writing Advice From Authors 31

    Frank Herbert

    “There is no real ending. It’s just the place where you stop the story.”

  • 50 Pieces Of Writing Advice From Authors 32

    Friedrich Nietzsche

    “A good writer possesses not only his own spirit but also the spirit of his friends.”

  • 50 Pieces Of Writing Advice From Authors 33

    W. Somerset Maugham

    “There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.”

  • 50 Pieces Of Writing Advice From Authors 34

    Nathaniel Hawthorne

    “Easy reading is damn hard writing.”

  • 50 Pieces Of Writing Advice From Authors 35

    Dorothy Parker

    “I hate writing, I love having written.”

  • 50 Pieces Of Writing Advice From Authors 36

    G.K. Chesterton

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

  • 50 Pieces Of Writing Advice From Authors 37

    Gabriel Garcia Marquez

    "When I sit down to write, which is the essential moment in my life, I am completely alone. Whenever I write a book, I accumulate a lot of documentation. That background material is the most intimate part of my private life. It's a little embarrassing - like being seen in your underwear It's like the way magicians never tell others how they make a dove come out of a hat.”

  • 50 Pieces Of Writing Advice From Authors 38

    Martin Amis

    “I always do my draft in long hand because even the ink is part of the flow.”

  • 50 Pieces Of Writing Advice From Authors 39

    Margaret Atwood

    “The only way you can write the truth is to assume that what you set down will never be read. Not by any other person, and not even by yourself at some later date. Otherwise you begin excusing yourself. You must see the writing as emerging like a long scroll of ink from the index finger of your right hand; you must see your left hand erasing it.”

  • 50 Pieces Of Writing Advice From Authors 40

    Charles Bukowski

    “Great writers are indecent people they live unfairly saving the best part for paper. Good human beings save the world so that bastards like me can keep creating art, become immortal. If you read this after I am dead it means I made it.”

  • 50 Pieces Of Writing Advice From Authors 41

    J. P. Donleavy

    “Writing is turning one's worst moments into money.”

  • 50 Pieces Of Writing Advice From Authors 42

    Edgar Allan Poe

    “Words have no power to impress the mind without the exquisite horror of their reality.”

  • 50 Pieces Of Writing Advice From Authors 43

    Jane Austen

    “For my own part, if a book is well written, I always find it too short.”

  • 50 Pieces Of Writing Advice From Authors 44

    Vladimir Nabokov

    “Literature was not born the day when a boy crying "wolf, wolf" came running out of the Neanderthal valley with a big gray wolf at his heels; literature was born on the day when a boy came crying "wolf, wolf" and there was no wolf behind him.”

  • 50 Pieces Of Writing Advice From Authors 45

    James Baldwin

    “Unless a writer is extremely old when he dies, in which case he has probably become a neglected institution, his death must always be seen as untimely. This is because a real writer is always shifting and changing and searching. The world has many labels for him, of which the most treacherous is the label of Success.

  • 50 Pieces Of Writing Advice From Authors 46

    Honore de Balzac

    “If the artist does not fling himself, without reflecting, into his work, as Curtis flung himself into the yawning gulf, as the soldier flings himself into the enemy's trenches, and if, once in this crater, he does not work like a miner on whom the walls of his gallery have fallen in; if he contemplates difficulties instead of overcoming them one by one... he is simply looking on at the suicide of his own talent.”

  • 50 Pieces Of Writing Advice From Authors 47

    Philip K. Dick

    “Science fiction writers, I am sorry to say, really do not know anything. We can't talk about science, because our knowledge of it is limited and unofficial, and usually our fiction is dreadful.”

  • 50 Pieces Of Writing Advice From Authors 48

    Christopher Hitchens

    “Everybody does have a book in them, but in most cases that's where it should stay.”

  • 50 Pieces Of Writing Advice From Authors 49

    Sylvia Plath

    “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.”

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