09 January 2020

Inspirational writing quotes from celebrated authors

Writing a scene
by Jennifer Kerslake Events, Writing Tips

Looking for inspiration as you return to your writing after the festive break? Check out the tips, advice and nuggets of wisdom we’ve collected from some famous masters of the craft. Whether you’re starting a new story or editing your work-in-progress, these inspirational quotes will help to fire your imagination for the year ahead.

‘All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.’ Ernest Hemingway

‘And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.’ Sylvia Plath

‘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

‘Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.’ Anton Chekhov

‘It is only by writing, not dreaming about it, that we develop our style.’ P.D. James

‘I’m just going to write because I cannot help it.’ Charlotte Brontë

‘When in doubt, have a man come through the door with a gun in his hand.’ Raymond Chandler

‘You can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.’ Jodi Picoult

‘The road to hell is paved with adverbs.’ Stephen King

‘So the writer who breeds more words than he needs, is making a chore for the reader who reads.’ Dr. Seuss

‘I write to discover what I know.’ Flannery O’Connor

‘Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.’ John Steinbeck

‘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

‘Half my life is an act of revision.’ John Irving

‘The greatest part of a writer’s time is spent in reading, in order to write; a man will turn over half a library to make one book.’ Samuel Johnson

‘Plot is no more than footprints left in the snow after your characters have run by on their way to incredible destinations.’ Ray Bradbury

‘I believe that the most important single thing, beyond discipline and creativity is daring to dare. ’ Maya Angelou

‘Good prose should be transparent, like a window pane.’ George Orwell

‘I am not at all in a humour for writing; I must write on until I am.’ Jane Austen  

‘Talent is insignificant. I know a lot of talented ruins. Beyond talent lie all the usual words: discipline, love, luck, but most of all, endurance’ James Baldwin

‘A writer is a world trapped in a person.’ Victor Hugo

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

‘I’m all for the scissors. I believe more in the scissors than I do in the pencil.’ Truman Capote

‘We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.’ Kurt Vonnegut

Do you have an inspirational quote or writing tip pinned to the wall above your desk? Share your favourite words of wisdom with us on Twitter for a chance to win one of six fantastic books on the craft. Remember to follow us and tag @CBCreative. We’ll select six winners at 11 am on Friday 10 January.

If you’re feeling inspired to take the leap and focus on writing your novel this year take a look at our popular online ‘How to Write a Novel’ course. Designed to take you from first idea to final draft: Starting to Write Your Novel, Write to the End of Your Novel and Edit & Pitch Your Novel.

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