I love collecting little bits of wisdom from great writers, leaders, and thinkers.
For several years, I’ve been stockpiling quotes that inspire me. Some of them contain sage advice for life; others offer fresh perspectives on the world. Many hold what I consider to be excellent writing tips.
Consider the writer who yearns to write and publish a novel. He thinks about it, dreams about it, aches for it, but the task is daunting and there is so little time. It seems like an impossible dream, one that would take years, even decades to realize.
The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
― Lao Tzu
Whatever you want to write, it all starts by sitting down at your computer or with a notebook and pen and writing down that first word.
Life Advice for Writers
Listen to the mustn’ts, child. Listen to the don’ts. Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me… Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.
― Shel Silverstein
Whether we’re following our dreams or expressing our thoughts, feelings, and visions through our writing, we writers must summon the courage to put ourselves and our work, our beloved labor, in front of an audience that will judge it. It’s hard enough to be yourself in the conventional sense, let alone under a spotlight.
Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.
― Dr. Seuss
It all comes down to believing. We have to believe in ourselves and in the passion that drives us to write.
Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.
― Roald Dahl
On Writing as Work
How many years does a person spend reading and writing before becoming proficient enough to be published? How long does it take to learn how to tell a story, to get a handle on the rules of grammar, to compose vibrant prose and verse? We writers spend countless hours, hard at work, just for practice and experience. Thousands of pages pile up before we become publishable. But every word, every paragraph, and every line counts, even if nobody else reads it. Even if it never earns a penny.
Don’t be seduced into thinking that that which does not make a profit is without value.
― Arthur Miller
A writer’s work is never done. It’s an ongoing process of learning the craft, producing the work, polishing, submitting, editing, and publicizing. But some writers make it look easy.
There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.
― Ernest Hemingway
Once we turn our passion into a career, we might find ourselves under contract or employed by some publisher. The article is due at midnight. The first draft is due at the end of the month. And the edits were supposed be done yesterday!
I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.
― Douglas Adams
Writing Tips from Authors
It saddens me that so many writers avoid writing because they are terrified that their work won’t be original, won’t be critically acclaimed, or won’t even get published. We can worry about whether our book is too silly or too serious, too smart or too dumb, too literary or too commercial. But ultimately, we have to stop worrying and just write what is in our hearts and what’s haunting our minds.
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
They say that the truth is stranger than fiction, and fiction can hold more truth than reality.
Things need not have happened to be true. Tales and dreams are the shadow-truths that will endure when mere facts are dust and ashes, and forgot.
― Neil Gaiman, The Sandman, Vol. 3: Dream Country
It cannot be said enough that the best way to become a good writer is to simply read as much as you possibly can. While reading will make you a better writer, it has countless other benefits.
Reading is the sole means by which we slip, involuntarily, often helplessly, into another’s skin, another’s voice, another’s soul.
― Joyce Carol Oates
What are some of your favorite quotes of wisdom? Have you picked up any helpful writing tips from authors you’ve admired? Share your best advice by leaving a comment, and keep writing!