• Amy Hay

Favorite Writing Quotes: The Pain And Pleasure of Writing

Updated: Nov 4, 2021

I’ve collected quotes ever since I can remember. It's an excellent habit; everyone should do it.

As a teenager, I compiled my quotes in sketch books. When I found a quote I liked, I would devote an entire page to its inscription, often performed with a calligraphy dip pen in my most “artistic-looking” handwriting. Sadly, the passage of time and dozens of housing moves caused these notebooks to vanish. Some quotes I can still recite from memory; most have been forgotten.

For the past ten years, I have dedicated myself to the task of gathering quotes that accurately explain the harsh reality of writing. Amid the highs and lows of writing my novels, re-reading these quotes reminds me that I am not alone, that I am sane, and that my efforts are worthwhile.

In this blog post, I share my favorite writing quotes with you in the hope that you, too, may enjoy them.

“Most writers write to say something about other people— and it doesn’t last. Good writers write to find out about themselves— and it lasts forever.” – Gloria Steinem

“The fact is, I don’t know where my ideas come from. Nor does any writer. The only real answer is to drink way too much coffee and buy yourself a desk that doesn’t collapse when you beat your head against it.” – Douglas Adams

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

“You know how writers are… they create themselves as they create their work. Or perhaps they create their work in order to create themselves.” – Orson Scott Card

“A day will come when the story inside of you will want to breathe on its own. That’s when you’ll start writing.” – Sarah Noffke

“Write the best, most amazing book you can, the wisest, most honest, most human book you have inside.” – Anne Lamott

“When we read, we start at the beginning and continue until we reach the end. When we write, we start in the middle and fight our way out.” – Vickie Karp

“Writers are made-forged, really, in a kiln of their own madness and insecurities— over the course of many, many moons. The writer you are when you begin is not the same as the writer you become.” – Chuck Wendig

“I believe that stories are incredibly important, possibly in ways we don’t understand, in allowing us to make sense of our lives, in allowing us to escape our lives, in giving us empathy and in creating the world that we live in.” – Neil Gaiman

“A non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity.” – Franz Kafka

“I wish I wrote the way I thought; obsessively, incessantly, with maddening hunger. I’d write to the point of suffocation. I’d write myself into nervous breakdowns, manuscripts spiraling out like tentacles into abysmal nothing. And I’d write about you a lot more than I should.” – Benedict Smith, I Wish I Wrote The Way I Thought.

“We have art so that we shall not die of reality.” – Neitzsche

“You must be prepared to work always without applause.” – Ernest Hemingway

“Every writer I know has trouble writing.” – Joseph Heller

“We write down made up stories to tell the truths we wish we could say out loud.” – Anonymous

“It’s none of their business that you have to learn to write. Let them think you were born that way.” – Ernest Hemingway

“If a story is in you, it has got to come out.” – William Faulkner

“It’s hell writing and it’s hell not writing. The only tolerable state is having just written.” – Robert Hass

“I write to give myself strength. I write to be the characters I am not. I write to explore all the things I am afraid of.” – Joss Whedon

“Becoming a writer is not a ‘career decision’ like becoming a doctor or policeman. You don’t choose it so much as get chosen, and once you accept the fact that you’re not fit for anything else, you have to be prepared to walk a long, hard road for the rest of your days.” – Paul Auster

“If a writer falls in love with you, you can never die.” – Mik Everett

“Once writing has become your major vice and greatest pleasure only death can stop it.” – Ernest Hemingway

“When I’m writing, I know I’m doing the thing I was born to do.” – Anne Sexton

“The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.” – Terry Pratchett

“To write something you have to risk making a fool of yourself.” – Anne Rice

“Very few writers really know what they’re doing until they’ve done it.” – Anne Lamott

“A writer is a writer not because she writes well and easily, because she has amazing talent, or because everything she does is golden. A writer is a writer because, even when there is no hope, even when nothing you do shows any sign of promise, you keep writing anyway.” – Junot Diaz

“Write what disturbs you, what you fear, what you have not been willing to speak about. Be willing to be split open.” – Natalie Goldberg

“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.” – Khalil Gibran

“Those who tell the stories rule the world.” – Native American proverb

“That’s what we storytellers do. We restore order with imagination. We instill hope again and again and again.” – Walt Disney

“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

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

“Words are sacred. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones, in the right order, you can nudge the world a little.” – Tom Stoppard

“Fairy tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.” – G. K. Chesterton

“In the end, we’ll all become stories.” – Margaret Atwood

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