Ever been told your writing belongs in the toilet?
As a 19-year-old sportswriter for a daily newspaper, I wanted more than anything to place an article in the Features section. I submitted one, complete with photos, to the editor.
He responded quickly in red at the top of the first page: “Great pictures. Bad story.”
Crushed, I mustered the courage to approach his desk.
“Sir, could you tell me what’s wrong with this so I can fix it?”
“Sure, Jenkins,” he said. “It’s sh–.”
If you’ve ever taken a hit like that, you know what comes to mind:
- I’m not cut out for this.
- It’s too hard.
- I should quit.
I staggered back to my desk where my boss—the sports editor—offered powerful advice.
“Did you have any misgivings about it?”
I suggested several things I could’ve done differently.
“There you go. Anything you should have done is what you ought to do.”
The next day, I submitted the rewritten piece, and the editor immediately accepted it.
I’m sure glad I didn’t quit. That’s never the answer.
My mistake? Turning in writing I should have known was less than my best—which I vowed never to do again.
We writers all face roadblocks, but sound advice can help us smash through them.
I’ve compiled inspirational writing quotes from some of the world’s most successful authors—the kind we all need at times.
Quotes On Writing
- If you want to change the world, pick up your pen and write. — Martin Luther
- It takes a heap of sense to write good nonsense. — Mark Twain
- We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit. — Aristotle
- By God’s design, I believe our hearts and minds are shaped by story. It’s how we learn. It’s how we make sense of the world. ― Liz Curtis Higgs
- We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master. — Ernest Hemingway
- I do not write with ease, nor am I ever pleased with anything I write. And so I rewrite. — Margaret Mitchell
- There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at the typewriter and bleed. — Ernest Hemingway
- We do not need magic to change the world; we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already. We have the power to imagine better. ― J.K. Rowling
- You can make anything by writing. ― C.S. Lewis
- Play around. Dive into absurdity and write. Take chances. You will succeed if you are fearless of failure. ― Natalie Goldberg
- Exercise the writing muscle every day, even if it is only a letter, notes, a title list, a character sketch, a journal entry. Writers are like dancers, like athletes. Without that exercise, the muscles seize up. ― Jane Yolen
- You don’t write because you want to say something; you write because you have something to say. ― F. Scott Fitzgerald
- I’m a little pencil in the hand of a writing God, who is sending a love letter to the world. ― Mother Teresa
- Words are a lens to focus one’s mind. — Ayn Rand
- Get it down. Take chances. It may be bad, but it’s the only way you can do anything really good. — William Faulkner
- The difference between fiction and reality? Fiction has to make sense. — Tom Clancy
- I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn. ― Anne Frank
- If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that. ― Stephen King
- Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on. — Louis L’Amour
- A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit. — Richard Bach
- If you have other things in your life—family, friends, good productive day work—these can interact with your writing and the sum will be all the richer. — David Brin
- I am not at all in a humor for writing; I must write on until I am. — Jane Austen
- When I sit down to write, I do not say to myself, ‘I am going to produce a work of art.’ I write because there is some lie that I want to expose, some fact to which I want to draw attention, and my initial concern is to get a hearing. — George Orwell
- Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart. — William Wordsworth
- Write what disturbs you, what you fear, what you have not been willing to speak about. — Natalie Goldberg
- The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do. — Thomas Jefferson
- No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader. — Robert Frost
- People on the outside think there’s something magical about writing, that you go up in the attic at midnight and cast the bones and come down in the morning with a story. But it isn’t like that. You work, and that’s all there is to it. — Harlan Ellison
- All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know. — Ernest Hemingway
- I would advise any beginning writer to write the first drafts as if no one else will ever read them — without a thought about publication — and only in the last draft to consider how the work will look from the outside. — Anne Tyler
- Write what should not be forgotten. — Isabel Allende
- Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way. — E. L. Doctorow
- I write to discover what I know. — Flannery O’Conner
- A writer has the duty to be good, not lousy; true, not false; lively, not dull; accurate, not full of error; He should tend to lift people up, not lower them down. Writers do not merely reflect and interpret life, they inform and shape life. — E.B. White
- Writing is the painting of the voice. — Voltaire
- If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it. — Elmore Leonard
- 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. — William Faulkner
- Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented from the successful is a lot of hard work. — Steven King
- Everybody walks past a thousand story ideas every day. The good writers are the ones who see five or six of them. Most people don’t see any. — Orson Scott Card
- We read five words on the first page of a really good novel and we begin to forget we are reading printed words on a page; we begin to see images. — John Champion Gardner
- A true piece of writing is a dangerous thing; it can change your life. — Tobias Wolff