Writing Quotes: 120+ Inspirational Writing Quotes For You

Scott Allan
September 11, 2019 | 19 mins

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Writing quotes are good bits of inspiration to keep around when you're feeling defeated in your writing endeavors.

Every author has a bad day; it doesn’t matter how experienced you are. 

There will be days when you sit at your desk to write, and the only action that ends up happening is a flashing cursor on a blank page. It could be writer's block or, you could just be drained.

There will be good days, too. Days when you love writing, and you stare at your work-in-progress with pride. 

For both the good and bad times, we can energize our creative writing flow and motivation by perusing our favorite inspirational writing quotes by famous writers.

The daily habit of sitting for hours and typing out a manuscript is challenging for the best of authors most days. This is why we all need to have writing tools and writing prompts for motivation when your writing isn’t flowing.

To help you with your writing speed and keep your fingers moving through the flow of your manuscript, here are 120 inspirational writing quotes by famous authors.

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This list of inspirational writing quotes contains:

  1. How to use these inspirational writing quotes
  2. Keep a journal of writing quotes
  3. Share these quotes with authors
  4. Post the quotes around your writing space
  5. List of inspirational writing quotes

How to use these inspirational writing quotes

There is a plethora of great quotes here by authors who need inspiration just like we do. Whether you’re learning how to become an author or whether you’ve self-published 30 books already, having your favorite writing quotes around will only help your practice.

These are 3 tips for how to best use these quotes so you feel inspired and creative during your writing sessions.

1 – Keep a journal of writing quotes

Buy a journal or a simple notebook for writing quotes. Each day, write down several quotes from this list. Start your writing sessions by repeating several of your favorite quotes. You can choose several a day. Make this a daily practice. Get into the habit of carrying the journal with you. In addition to the best writing quotes, you can use the journal for making notes on your book.

2 – Share these quotes with authors

If you find a great quote, share it with other authors. Post it in your author mastermind community. Share it on your Facebook page. 

You can create a community of inspired authors by sharing the wisdom and advice of a good writing quote.

3 – Post the quotes around your writing space

Do you have a personal writing space? If yes, write down your favorite quotes on post-it-notes and tack them around your space. 

Choose a quote per day from this list and recite it several times while you are writing.

If you care about aesthetics and want to get fancy, have your favorite quote printed in a nice font, and frame it for your writing space. 

List of inspirational writing quotes

We have included the best from authors such as Stephen King, JK Rowling, Ray Bradbury, George Orwell, William Zinsser, Roald Dahl, Margaret Atwood, Carl Sagan, Carrie Fisher, Mark Twain, and Ernest Hemingway…and a lot more!

Print this of writing quotes list or bookmark the page, read through it daily, and keep on writing that bestseller!

1. “A book is made from a tree. It is an assemblage of flat, flexible parts (still called “leaves”) imprinted with dark pigmented squiggles. One glance at it and you hear the voice of another person, perhaps someone dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, the author is speaking, clearly and silently, inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people, citizens of distant epochs, who never knew one another. Books break the shackles of time–proof that humans can work magic.”

― Carl Sagan

2. “Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.”

— George Orwell

3. “It took me fifteen years to discover I had no talent for writing, but I couldn’t give it up because by that time I was too famous.”

— Robert Benchley

4. “I was set free because my greatest fear had been realized, and I still had a daughter who I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became a solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.”

 J.K. Rowling

5. “If you're holding out for universal popularity, I'm afraid you will be in this cabin for a very long time.”

— J.K. Rowling

6. “Why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me.”

— J.K. Rowling

7. “One thing that helps is to give myself permission to write badly. I tell myself that I’m going to do my five or 10 pages no matter what, and that I can always tear them up the following morning if I want. I’ll have lost nothing—writing and tearing up five pages would leave me no further behind than if I took the day off.”

— Lawrence Block

8. “I've always believed in writing without a collaborator, because where two people are writing the same book, each believes he gets all the worry and only half the royalties.”

— Agatha Christie

9. “Some days I'm lucky to squeeze out a page of copy that pleases me, but I get as many as six or seven pages on a very good day; the average is probably three pages.”

— Dean Koontz

10. “When your story is ready for rewrite, cut it to the bone. Get rid of every ounce of excess fat. This is going to hurt; revising a story down to the bare essentials is always a little like murdering children, but it must be done.”

—Stephen King

11. “If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”

— Stephen King

12. “I try to create sympathy for my characters, then turn the monsters loose.”

— Stephen King

13. “Making people believe the unbelievable is no trick; it’s work. … Belief and reader absorption come in the details: An overturned tricycle in the gutter of an abandoned neighborhood can stand for everything.”

—Stephen King, WD [this quote is from an interview with King in Writer’s Digest

14. “Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers.”

— Isaac Asimov

Writing Quotes By Authors

15. “In my later years, I have looked in the mirror each day and found a happy person staring back. Occasionally I wonder why I can be so happy. The answer is that every day of my life I've worked only for myself and for the joy that comes from writing and creating. The image in my mirror is not optimistic, but the result of optimal behavior.”

— Ray Bradbury

16. “Just write every day of your life. Read intensely. Then see what happens. Most of my friends who are put on that diet have very pleasant careers.”

— Ray Bradbury

17. “Remember: Plot is no more than footprints left in the snow after your characters have run by on their way to incredible destinations.”

— Ray Bradbury

18. “You fail only if you stop writing.”

— Ray Bradbury

19. “I always wrote. I wrote from when I was 12. That was therapeutic for me in those days. I wrote things to get them out of feeling them, and onto paper. So writing in a way saved me, kept me company. I did the traditional thing with falling in love with words, reading books and underlining lines I liked and words I didn't know.”

— Carrie Fisher

20. “Write while the heat is in you. The writer who postpones the recording of his thoughts uses an iron which has cooled to burn a hole with.”

— Henry David Thoreau

21. “We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.”

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

— Ernest Hemingway

23. “As a writer, you should not judge, you should understand.”

― Ernest Hemingway

24. “Write something that’s worth fighting over. Because that’s how you change things. That’s how you create art.”

— Jeff Goins, author of Real Artists Don’t Starve

Jeff Goins Author Quote

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

— Toni Morrison

26. “This is how you do it: You sit down at the keyboard and and you put one word after another until it's done. It's that easy, and that hard.”

— Neil Gaiman

27. “I can shake off everything as I write. My sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.”

— Anne Frank

28. “I would advise anyone who aspires to a writing career that before developing his talent, he would be wise to develop a thick hyde.”

— Harper Lee

29. “There are some people who live in a dream world, and there are some who face reality; and then there are those who turn one into the other.”

— Desiderius Eramus

30. “Writing is like a ‘lust,' or like ‘scratching when you itch.' Writing comes as a result of a very strong impulse, and when it does come, I, for one, must get it out.”

— C.S. Lewis

31. “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader.”

— Robert Frost

32. “You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write.”

— Saul Bellow

Anne Frank Writing Quote

33. “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

34. “Get it down. Take chances. It may be bad, but it's the only way you can do anything really good.”

— William Faulkner

35. “Words can be like X-rays if you use them properly – they'll go through anything. You read and you're pierced.”

— Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

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36. “Don't bend; don't water it down; don't try to make it logical; don't edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly.”

— Franz Kafka

37. “I kept always two books in my pocket, one to read, one to write in.”

— Robert Louis Stevenson

38. “A word after a word after a word is power.”

— Margaret Atwood

39. “You should write because you love the shape of stories and sentences and the creation of different words on a page. Writing comes from reading, and reading is the finest teacher of how to write.”

— Annie Proulx

40. “You reach deep down and bring up what feels absolutely authentic to you as you move along with the book, but you don't know everything about it. You can't.”

— Anne Rice, Interview With the Vampire

41. “If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn't brood. I'd type a little faster.”

— Isaac Asimov

42. “The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself.”

— Albert Camus

43. “I write to discover what I know.”

— Flannery O'Connor

44. “Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.”

— John Steinbeck

45. “Words do not express thoughts very well. They always become a little different immediately after they are expressed, a little distorted, a little foolish.”

Hermann Hesse

46. “Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depth of your heart; confess to yourself you would have to die if you were forbidden to write.”

Rainer Maria Rilke

47. “I know I was writing stories when I was five. I don’t know what I did before that. Just loafed, I suppose.”

— P.G. Wodehouse

48. “If you want to be a writer, you have to write everyday. You don’t go to a well just once in awhile but daily.”

— Walter Mosley

49. “To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme.”

— Herman Melville

50. “Words are a lens to focus one's mind.”

— Ayn Rand

51. “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

52. “A blank piece of paper is God's way of telling us how hard it is to be God.”

— Sidney Sheldon

53. “I went for years not finishing anything. Because, of course, when you finish something you can be judged.”

— Erica Jong

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54. “Who wants to become a writer? And why? Because it’s the answer to everything. … It’s the streaming reason for living. To note, to pin down, to build up, to create, to be astonished at nothing, to cherish the oddities, to let nothing go down the drain, to make something, to make a great flower out of life, even if it’s a cactus.”

— Enid Bagnold

55. “To gain your own voice, you have to forget about having it heard.”

— Allen Ginsberg, WD

56. “All readers come to fiction as willing accomplices to your lies. Such is the basic goodwill contract made the moment we pick up a work of fiction.”

— Steve Almond, WD

57. “Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.”

— George Orwell

58. “When I sit down to write a book, I do not say to myself, ‘I am going to produce a work of art.’ I write it 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

59. “I’m not sure a bad person can write a good book. If art doesn’t make us better, then what on earth is it for.”

— Alice Walker

60. “I don’t care if a reader hates one of my stories, just as long as he finishes the book.”

—Roald Dahl

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61. Writing is sweat and drudgery most of the time. And you have to love it in order to endure the solitude and the discipline.

— Peter Benchley, author of Jaws

62. “I read very widely, both non-fiction and fiction, so I don't think there's a single writer who influences me.”

— Peter Benchley

63. “Every secret of a writer’s soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind, is written large in his works.”

— Virginia Woolf

64. “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

65. “There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.”

— W. Somerset Maugham

66. “The greatest part of a writer’s time is spent in reading, in order to write; a writer will turn over half a library to make one book.”

— Samuel Johnson

67. “If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it. Or, if proper usage gets in the way, it may have to go. I can’t allow what we learned in English composition to disrupt the sound and rhythm of the narrative.”

— Elmore Leonard

68. “Write. Rewrite. When not writing or rewriting, read. I know of no shortcuts.”

— Larry L. King

69. “I do not over-intellectualise the production process. I try to keep it simple: Tell the damned story.”

— Tom Clancy

70. “The writing of a novel is taking life as it already exists, not to report it but to make an object, toward the end that the finished work might contain this life inside it and offer it to the reader. The essence will not be, of course, the same thing as the raw material; it is not even of the same family of things. The novel is something that never was before and will not be again.”

— Eudora Welty

71. “One thing that helps is to give myself permission to write badly. I tell myself that I’m going to do my five or 10 pages no matter what, and that I can always tear them up the following morning if I want. I’ll have lost nothing—writing and tearing up five pages would leave me no further behind than if I took the day off.”

— Lawrence Block

72. “Don’t expect the puppets of your mind to become the people of your story. If they are not realities in your own mind, there is no mysterious alchemy in ink and paper that will turn wooden figures into flesh and blood.”

— Leslie Gordon Barnard

73. “Plot is people. Human emotions and desires founded on the realities of life, working at cross purposes, getting hotter and fiercer as they strike against each other until finally there’s an explosion—that’s Plot.”

— Leigh Brackett

74. “Genius gives birth, talent delivers. What Rembrandt or Van Gogh saw in the night can never be seen again. Born writers of the future are amazed already at what they’re seeing now, what we’ll all see in time for the first time, and then see imitated many times by made writers.”

— Jack Kerouac

75. “Long patience and application saturated with your heart’s blood—you will either write or you will not—and the only way to find out whether you will or not is to try.”

— Jim Tully

76. “People say, ‘What advice do you have for people who want to be writers?’ I say, they don’t really need advice, they know they want to be writers, and they’re gonna do it. Those people who know that they really want to do this and are cut out for it, they know it.”

—R.L. Stine

77. “Anyone who is going to be a writer knows enough at 15 to write several novels.”

— May Sarton

78. “The most beautiful things are those that madness prompts and reason writes.”

—Andre Gide

79. “You do not have to explain every single drop of water contained in a rain barrel. You have to explain one drop—H2O. The reader will get it.”

—George Singleton

80. “When I say work I only mean writing. Everything else is just odd jobs.”

— Margaret Laurence

81. “Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now.”

— Annie Dillard

82. “A book is simply the container of an idea—like a bottle; what is inside the book is what matters.”

—Angela Carter

83. “You don’t actually have to write anything until you’ve thought it out. This is an enormous relief, and you can sit there searching for the point at which the story becomes a toboggan and starts to slide.”

—Marie de Nervaud

84. “Whether a character in your novel is full of choler, bile, phlegm, blood or plain old buffalo chips, the fire of life is in there, too, as long as that character lives.”

—James Alexander Thom

85. “It is perfectly okay to write garbage—as long as you edit brilliantly.”

— C. J. Cherryh

86. “Any man who keeps working is not a failure. He may not be a great writer, but if he applies the old-fashioned virtues of hard, constant labor, he’ll eventually make some kind of career for himself as writer.”

— Ray Bradbury

87. “I have been successful probably because I have always realized that I knew nothing about writing and have merely tried to tell an interesting story entertainingly.”

— Edgar Rice Burroughs

88. “Most of the basic material a writer works with is acquired before the age of fifteen.”

— Willa Cather

89. “The only thing I was fit for was to be a writer, and this notion rested solely on my suspicion that I would never be fit for real work, and that writing didn’t require any.”

— Russell Baker

90. “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 sit in back of the typewriter and you work, and that’s all there is to it.”

— Harlan Ellison

91. “People do not deserve to have good writing, they are so pleased with bad.”

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

92. “Don’t try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It’s the one and only thing you have to offer.”

— Barbara Kingsolver

93. “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

94. “The unread story is not a story; it is little black marks on wood pulp. The reader, reading it, makes it live: a live thing, a story.”

— Ursula K. Le Guin

95. “Only in a person’s imagination does every truth find an effective and undeniable existence. Imagination, not invention, is the supreme master of art as of life.”

— Joseph Conrad

96. “You learn by writing short stories. Keep writing short stories. The money’s in novels, but writing short stories keeps your writing lean and pointed.”

— Larry Niven

97. “Writing is not necessarily something to be ashamed of, but do it in private and wash your hands afterwards.”

— Robert A. Heinlein

98. “The more closely the author thinks of why he wrote, the more he comes to regard his imagination as a kind of self-generating cement which glued his facts together, and his emotions as a kind of dark and obscure designer of those facts. Reluctantly, he comes to the conclusion that to account for his book is to account for his life.”

— Richard Wright

99. “Rejection slips, or form letters, however tactfully phrased, are lacerations of the soul, if not quite inventions of the devil—but there is no way around them.”

— Isaac Asimov

100. “In general…there’s no point in writing hopeless novels. We all know we’re going to die; what’s important is the kind of men and women we are in the face of this.”

— Anne Lamott

Writing Quotes

101. “All the words I use in my stories can be found in the dictionary—it’s just a matter of arranging them into the right sentences.”

— Somerset Maugham

102. “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

103. “If you write one story, it may be bad; if you write a hundred, you have the odds in your favor.”

— Edgar Rice Burroughs


104. “…And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

— Anaïs Nin

105. “Know that the Creator lives and moves and breathes within you. So those dreams? Risk them. Those words? Write them. Those hopes? Believe them.”

— Elora Nicole Ramirez

106. “Art is not about thinking something up. It is the opposite — getting something down.

— Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way

Quotes By Writers

107. The writer is an explorer. Every step is an advance into a new land. 

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

108. “The great work must inevitably be obscure, except to the very few, to those who like the author himself are initiated into the mysteries. Communication then is secondary: it is perpetuation which is important. For this only one good reader is necessary.”

— Henry Miller

109. “I am like a little pencil in God’s hand. He does the writing. The pencil has nothing to do with it.”

— Mother Teresa

110. “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

111. “Writing a book is like telling a joke and having to wait 2 years to know whether or not it was funny.”

— Alain de Botton

112. “No person who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.”

— CS Lewis

113. “Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears.”

— Les Brown

114. “If something isn’t working, if you have a story that you’ve built and it’s blocked and you can’t figure it out, take your favorite scene, or your very best idea or set-piece, and cut it. It’s brutal, but sometimes inevitable.”

— Joss Whedon

115. “You don’t write because you want to say something, you write because you have something to say.”

— F. Scott Fitzgerald

116. “There’s no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you.”

— Maya Angelou

117. “We’re past the age of heroes and hero kings. … Most of our lives are basically mundane and dull, and it’s up to the writer to find ways to make them interesting.”

— John Updike

118. “A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.”

— Thomas Mann, Essays of Three Decades

119. “Always dream and shoot higher than you know you can do…Try to be better than yourself.”

— John Steinbeck

120. “You may not always write well, but you can edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.”

— Jodi Picoult

Now you have a comprehensive list of inspirational writing quotes to keep you pushing forward. 

And by reading through those quotes, hopefully you don't feel so alone knowing that famous authors experience the same love/hate relationship with writing.

The most important thing is that you take action each day to move closer towards publishing your book. Then, you'll be creating your own writing quotes for other aspiring authors to get inspired by!

What are your favorite inspirational writing quotes?

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