“A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.” – Richard Bach
- An amateur writer is overly reliant on exclamation points for emphasis!!
“A writer is working when he’s staring out of the window.” – Burton Rascoe
- Our windows are filthy, so that’s why I’m now inspired to write a dirty book.
“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.” – Anaïs Nin
- Unlike Brussels sprouts, which most people taste in the moment and in retrospect wish they hadn’t.
“You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write.” – Saul Bellow
- In that case, the title of my next book is going to be Indecipherable.
“You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.” – Ray Bradbury
- He had me at “stay drunk.”
“How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.” – Henry David Thoreau
- Vanity, thy name is a comfy chair.
“Writing is like sex. First you do it for love, then you do it for your friends, and then you do it for money.” – Virginia Woolf
- Back in my dating days, I was lucky if I got to do it once before being written off.
“The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.” – Thomas Jefferson
- He could have made the same point without using “all” or “that of.”
“I am irritated by my own writing. I am like a violinist whose ear is true, but whose fingers refuse to reproduce precisely the sound he hears within.” – Gustave Flaubert
- I am also irritated by Flaubert’s writing. Emma Bovary fiddles around far too much.
“Each writer is born with a repertory company in his head. Shakespeare has perhaps 20 players. … I have 10 or so, and that’s a lot. As you get older, you become more skillful at casting them.” – Gore Vidal
- This was Vidal’s way of laying claim to being half the writer Shakespeare was.
“The greatest part of a writer’s time is spent in reading, in order to write; a man will turn over half a library to make one book.” – Samuel Johnson
- I once turned over half a library to find a $2 bill I’d used as a bookmark.
“The first sentence can’t be written until the final sentence is written.” – Joyce Carol Oates
- Uh, hello? How am I supposed to know how many pages I’ll need to backfill?
“I don’t need an alarm clock. My ideas wake me.” – Ray Bradbury
- I don’t need an alarm clock, either – my urge to pee wakes me.
“Examine every word you put on paper. You’ll find a surprising number that don’t serve any purpose.” – William Zinsser
- I followed this advice and was surprised to find the number was “all of them.”
“If you read good books, when you write, good books will come out of you.” – Natalie Goldberg
- If you read bad books, when you write, logorrhea will come out of you.
“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” – Toni Morrison
- If there’s a book that you don’t want to read, and yet it has been written, then it must have been written by James Patterson.
“The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” – Sylvia Plath
- The second-worst enemy to creativity is misplacing your copy of Roget’s Thesaurus, without a doubt.
“One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.” – Jack Kerouac
- Until that day, they will be abstruse.
“Ideas are cheap.… It’s the execution that is all important.” – George R.R. Martin
- That explains all the beheadings and other gruesome deaths in Game of Thrones.
“Write even when the world is chaotic.” – Cory Doctorow
- Hmm… when isn’t it?
“No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.” – Robert Frost
- You’d think Frost would know rhyming a word with itself is considered a cardinal sin in poetry.
“Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” – E. L. Doctorow
- If you want to write a short story, use your high beams.
“Be willing to write really badly.” – Jennifer Egan
- That’s my credo.
“Writers live twice.” – Natalie Goldberg
- If they can bounce back from the heart attack brought on by all that vain sitting.
“Any word you have to hunt for in a thesaurus is the wrong word. There are no exceptions to this rule.” – Stephen King
- For Sale: one heavily dog-eared copy of Roget’s Thesaurus!! 50¢ o.b.o.