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Writing Quotations from Famous Published Authors

These writing quotations from famous published authors are from my friend, fellow writing group member, and blog partner Gini Grey. Here, she quotes authors such as James Michener, William Faulkner, Aldous Huxley – and she adds her own “food for writers’ thought” at the end of each gaggle of quotations.

First, one of my favorite writing quotations:

“Writing a novel is like driving a car at night,” said E.L. Doctorow. “You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”

It’s true of writing, and of life in general. One step at a time, fellow scribes! Especially when you’re working on a huge project, such as a novel or nonfiction book. One step at a time…

Many of Grey’s quotations below are from W.O.W.: Writers on Writing, by Jon Winokur. He also edited Advice to Writers: A Compendium of Quotes, Anecdotes, and Writerly Wisdom from a Dazzling Array of Literary Lights. Click the book for more info, and read on for Gini Grey’s round up of quotations and food for thought…

Writing Quotations from Famous Published Authors

Writing is a passion of mine, and as with many other writers, it pulls me and pushes me as though it has a life of its own. I find it fascinating to read and hear from other writers about their process, especially famous writers whose books I’ve read.

My writing buddy, Laurie, gave me a book to soothe this need, called W.O.W. – Writers on Writing by Jon Winokur. Here is a peek into what famous writers think and feel about their craft, organized by topic and followed by my own brief thoughts.

Competition Among Writers

  • “I think about Tolstoy, Flaubert and Dickens, and I’m jealous of what those authors accomplished. Because I am jealous, I am a writer now. I remain jealous and this gives me a guide to what I might accomplish.” James Michener
  • “I can write better than anyone who can write faster, and I can write faster than anyone who can write better.” A.J. Liebling

I don’t know about you, but I find it does help to admire other’s work as a way to propel me to be a better writer.

Critics and Criticism of Writers

  • “Reviewers are usually people who would have been poets, historians, biographers, etc., if they could; they have tried their talents at one or the other, and have failed; therefore they turn critics. Samuel Taylor Coleridge
  • “A dramatic critic is a man who leaves no turn unstoned.” George Bernard Shaw
  • “One of the amusements of being old is that I have no illusions about my literary position…I no longer mind what people think.” W. Somerset Maugham
  • “The artists who want to be writers, read the reviews; the artists who want to write, don’t.” William Faulkner

I cringe at harsh criticism but am open to constructive, helpful critiquing. How does criticism affect you?

Writing Imagination and Inspiration

  • “If I get a promising idea I set it down, and it stays there. I don’t make myself do anything with it.” Marianne Moore
  • “I am a camera with its shutter open, quite passive, recording nothing, not thinking.” Christopher Isherwood
  • “When I sit at my table to write, I never know what it’s going to be till I’m under way. I trust in inspiration, which sometimes comes and sometimes doesn’t. But I don’t sit back waiting for it. I work every day.” Alberto Moravia

Do you wait for inspiration or do you start writing and let it find you? I do both. Some days I’m brimming with ideas and other days, there’s nothing. But when I sit down and let an idea or topic surface and I begin to write whatever comes to mind, inspiration starts flowing.

Writing for Money

  • “Sir, no man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money.” Samuel Johnson
  • “Write without pay until somebody offers pay; if nobody offers within three years, sawing wood is what you were intended for.”  Mark Twain
  • “Writing is the only profession where no one considers you ridiculous if you earn no money.” Jules Renard

Do you write for the sake of writing or for the money or both? I started writing for the love of it, then moved onto to finding ways to earn money from writing, but I’m still working on that angle.

Motives and Aspirations for Writers

  • “Writers write to influence their readers, their preachers, their auditors, but always, at bottom, to be more themselves.” Aldous Huxley
  • “There are many reasons why novelists write, but they all have one thing in common: a need to create an alternative world.” John Fowles
  • “My purpose is to entertain myself first and other people secondly.” John D. MacDonald

Why do you write? For me, it is a need to share what I know, what I’ve experienced and learned from this adventure called life.

For more Where Are the Best Writing Tips? In the Best Writing Quips, Of Course!

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Gini Grey is a Transformational Coach and author of the book, From Chaos to Calm. To read additional articles, visit Insights & Inspiration.

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2 thoughts on “Writing Quotations from Famous Published Authors”

  1. Sergio,

    Thanks for your comment — and for the links to your free e-book about literary quotations! I’m sorry, but I had to take the links you provided out of the comment section itself (my Spam filter sends comments with url’s directly to the trash folder).

    But, your book is linked to your name.

    And thanks for quoting me in your e-book; I’m pleased and flattered!

    Best wishes,
    .-= Laurie PK´s last blog post ..4 Signs You Need to Reevaluate Your Writing or Publication Goals =-.

  2. Laurie and Gini,

    I identified more than 100 reasons to write a book in my free ebook “A Arte da Ficção em Citações” (“The Art of Fiction in Quotations”, 25,700 writing and literary quotations, Portuguese language).

    My free ebook “Literary Quotations and Page Rage” (3,300 quotations, English language, 2009) also has many quotations about motives and aspirations. In this one, I included one quotation by Laurie, about voice. Click on my name to get to Scribd and read the book.