An aphorism is nothing else but the slightest
form of writing raised to the highest level of expressive communication. Carl William Brown





I write in order to attain that feeling of tension relieved and function achieved which a cow enjoys on giving milk.


H. L. Mencken (1880-1956, American editor, author, critic, humorist)


Writing crystallizes thought and thought produces action.


Paul J. Meyer (American businessman, author, motivator)


Although most of us know Vincent van Gogh in Arles and Paul Gauguin in Tahiti as if they were neighbors -- somewhat disreputable but endlessly fascinating -- none of us can name two French generals or department store owners of that period.


James A. Michener (1907-1997, American  writer)


I am always interested in why young people become writers, and from talking with many I have concluded that most do not want to be writers working eight and ten hours a day and accomplishing little; they want to have been writers, garnering the rewards of having completed a best-seller. They aspire to the rewards of writing but not to the travail.


James A. Michener (1907-1997, American  writer)


I was brought up in the great tradition of the late nineteenth century: that a writer never complains, never explains and never disdains.


James A. Michener (1907-1997, American  writer)


A man writes to throw off the poison which he has accumulated because of his false way of life. He is trying to recapture his innocence, yet all he succeeds in doing (by writing) is to inoculate the world with a virus of his disillusionment. No man would set a word down on paper if he had the courage to live out what he believed in.


Henry Miller (1891-1980, American author)


After all, most writing is done away from the typewriter, away from the desk. I'd say it occurs in the quiet, silent moments, while you're walking or shaving or playing a game, or whatever, or even talking to someone you're not vitally interested in.


Henry Miller (1891-1980, American author)


Writing is the hardest way of earning a living, with the possible exception of wrestling alligators.


Olin Miller


Let those who would write heroic poems make their life an heroic poem.


John Milton (1608-1674, British poet)


I always write a good first line, but I have trouble in writing the others.


Jean Baptiste Moliere (1622-1673, French playwright)


All the world knows me in my book, and may book in me.


Michel Eyquem De Montaigne (1533-1592, French philosopher, essayist)


Like stones, words are laborious and unforgiving, and the fitting of them together, like the fitting of stones, demands great patience and strength of purpose and particular skill.


Edmund Morrison


Of course I'm a black writer. I'm not just a black writer, but categories like black writer, woman writer and Latin American writer aren't marginal anymore. We have to acknowledge that the thing we call "literature" is more pluralistic now, just as society ought to be. The melting pot never worked. We ought to be able to accept on equal terms everybody from the Hasidim to Walter Lippmann, from the Rastafarians to Ralph Bunche.


Toni Morrison (1931-, African-American novelist)


The shelf life of the modern hardback writer is somewhere between the milk and the yogurt.


John Mortimer (1923-, British barrister, novelist)


Writing is like getting married. One should never commit oneself until one is amazed at one's luck.


Iris Murdoch (1919-, British novelist, philosopher)


Style and Structure are the essence of a book; great ideas are hogwash.


Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977, Russian-born American novelist, poet)


I'm the kind of writer that people think other people are reading.


V. S. Naipaul


The only way out is the way through, just as you cannot escape from death except by dying. Being unable to write, you must examine in writing this being unable, which becomes for the present -- henceforth? -- the subject to which you are condemned.


Howard Nemerov (1920-1991, American poet)


To be a good diarist, one must have a snouty, sneaky mind.


Harold Nicolson


Of all that is written, I love only what a person has written with his own blood.


Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900, German philosopher)


The last thing we decide in writing a book is what to put first.


Blaise Pascal (1623-1662, French scientist, religious philosopher)


Good writers are those who keep the language efficient. That is to say, keep it accurate, keep it clear.


Ezra Pound (1885-1972, American poet, critic)


A writer is a person who has solutions for which there are no riddles.


Gregory Nunn (1955-, American golfer)


Everywhere I go I'm asked if I think the university stifles writers. My opinion is that they don't stifle enough of them.


Flannery O'Connor (1925-1964, American author)


All writers are vain, selfish and lazy, and at the very bottom of their motives lies a mystery. Writing a book is a long, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.


George Orwell (1903-1950, British author, "Animal Farm")


For a creative writer possession of the "truth" is less important than emotional sincerity.


George Orwell (1903-1950, British author, "Animal Farm")


Good novels are not written by orthodoxy-sniffers, nor by people who are conscience-stricken about their own orthodoxy. Good novels are written by people who are not frightened.


George Orwell (1903-1950, British author, "Animal Farm")


He is a man of thirty-five, but looks fifty. He is bald, has varicose veins and wears spectacles, or would wear them if his only pair were not chronically lost. If things are normal with him, he will be suffering from malnutrition, but if he has recently had a lucky streak, he will be suffering from a hangover. At present, it is half past eleven in the morning, and according to his schedule he should have started work two hours ago; but even if he had made any serious effort to start, he would have been frustrated by the almost continuous ringing of the telephone bell, the yells of the baby, the rattle of an electric drill out in the street, and the heavy boots of his creditors clumping up the stairs. The most recent interruption was the arrival of the second post, which brought him two circulars and an income tax demand printed in red. Needless to say, this person is a writer.


George Orwell (1903-1950, British author, "Animal Farm")


One reason writers write is out of revenge. Life hurts; certain ideas and experiences hurt; one wants to clarify, to set out illuminations, to replay the old bad scenes and get the Treppenworte said -- the words one didn't have the strength or ripeness to say when those words were necessary for one's dignity or survival.


Cynthia Ozick (1928-, American novelist, short-story writer)


If you're going to write, don't pretend to write down. It's going to be the best you can do, and it's the fact that it's the best you can do that kills you.


Dorothy Parker (1893-1967, American humorous writer)


If I had more time I would write a shorter letter.


Blaise Pascal (1623-1662, French scientist, religious philosopher)


As far as modern writing is concerned, it is rarely rewarding to translate it, although it might be easy. Translation is very much like copying paintings.


Boris Pasternak (1890-1960, Russian poet, novelist, translator)


Writers, you know, are the beggars of Western society.


Octavio Paz (1914-1998, Mexican poet, essayist)


Good writing excites me, and makes life worth living.


Harold Pinter (1930-, British playwright, director)


I would love to spend all my time writing to you; I'd love to share with you all that goes through my mind, all that weighs on my heart, all that gives air to my soul; phantoms of art, dreams that would be so beautiful if they could come true.


Luigi Pirandello (1867-1936, Italian author, playwright)


Most authors steal their works, or buy.


Alexander Pope (1688-1744, British poet, critic, translator)


Ten censure wrong, for one that writes amiss.


Alexander Pope (1688-1744, British poet, critic, translator)


True ease in writing comes from art, not chance, as those move easiest who have learned to dance. 'Tis not enough no harshness gives offence. The sound must seem an echo to the sense.


Alexander Pope (1688-1744, British poet, critic, translator)


Why did I write? What sin to me unknown dipped me in ink, my parents, or my own?


Alexander Pope (1688-1744, British poet, critic, translator)


Good authors, too, who once knew better words now only use four-letter words writing prose... anything goes.


Cole Porter (1893-1964, American composer, lyricist)


Nothing written for pay is worth printing. Only what has been written against the market.


Ezra Pound (1885-1972, American poet, critic)


I perceived that to express those impressions, to write that essential book, which is the only true one, a great writer does not, in the current meaning of the word, invent it, but, since it exists already in each one of us, interprets it. The duty and the task of a writer are those of an interpreter.


Marcel Proust (1871-1922, French novelist)


Great writers arrive among us like new diseases -- threatening, powerful, impatient for patients to pick up their virus, irresistible.


Craig Raine


What no wife of a writer can ever understand is that a writer is working when he's staring out of the window.


Burton Rascoe


Really, in the end, the only thing that can make you a writer is the person that you are, the intensity of your feeling, the honesty of your vision, the unsentimental acknowledgment of the endless interest of the life around and within you. Virtually nobody can help you deliberately -- many people will help you unintentionally.


Santha Rama Rau


Make 'em laugh; make 'em cry; make 'em wait.


Charles Reade (1814-1884, British novelist, dramatist)


To write something, you have to risk making a fool of yourself.


Anne Rice (1941-, American author, "Interview with the Vampire")


Fundamentally, all writing is about the same thing; it's about dying, about the brief flicker of time we have here, and the frustration that it creates.


Mordecai Richler (1931-, Canadian writer)


Never write on a subject until you have read yourself full of it.


Jean Paul Richter (1763-1825, German novelist)


A writer writes not because he is educated but because he is driven by the need to communicate. Behind the need to communicate is the need to share. Behind the need to share is the need to be understood. The writer wants to be understood much more than he wants to be respected or praised or even loved. And that perhaps, is what makes him different from others.


Leo C. Rosten (1908-1997, Polish-born American political scientist)


Every writer is a narcissist. This does not mean that he is vain; it only means that he is hopelessly self-absorbed.


Leo C. Rosten (1908-1997, Polish-born American political scientist)


The only reason for being a professional writer is that you can't help it.


Leo C. Rosten (1908-1997, Polish-born American political scientist)


Books choose their authors; the act of creation is not entirely a rational and conscious one.


Salman Rushdie (1948-, Indian-born British author)


I make no complaint. I am a writer. I do not accept my condition; I will strive to change it; but I inhabit it, I am trying to learn from it.


Salman Rushdie (1948-, Indian-born British author)


Whores and writers, Mahound. We are the people you can't forgive.


Salman Rushdie (1948-, Indian-born British author)


Writers and politicians are natural rivals. Both groups try to make the world in their own images; they fight for the same territory.


Salman Rushdie (1948-, Indian-born British author)


It is excellent discipline for an author to feel that he must say all that he has to say in the fewest possible words, or his readers is sure to skip them.


John Ruskin (1819-1900, British critic, social theorist)


I am paid by the word, so I always write the shortest words possible.


Bertrand Russell (1872-1970, British philosopher, mathematician, essayist)


It is necessary to write, if the days are not to slip emptily by. How else, indeed, to clap the net over the butterfly of the moment?  For the moment passes, it is forgotten; the mood is gone; life itself is gone. That is where the writer scores over his fellows: he catches the changes of his mind on the hop. Growth is exciting; growth is dynamic and alarming. Growth of the soul, growth of the mind.


Vita Sackville-West (1892-1962, British novelist, poet)


Writing is a question of finding a certain rhythm. I compare it to the rhythms of jazz. Much of the time life is a sort of rhythmic progression of three characters. If one tells oneself that life is like that, one feels it less arbitrary.


Francoise Sagan (1935-, French novelist, playwright)


The trade of authorship is a violent, and indestructible obsession.


George Sand (1804-1876, French novelist)


The writer is either a practicing recluse or a delinquent, guilt-ridden one; or both. Usually both.


Susan Sontag (1933-, American essayist)


Writing is to descend like a miner to the depths of the mine with a lamp on your forehead, a light whose dubious brightness falsifies everything, whose wick is in permanent danger of explosion, whose blinking illumination in the coal dust exhausts and corrodes your eyes.


Blaise Cendrars Sauser


When an author is too meticulous about his style, you may presume that his mind is frivolous and his content flimsy.


Marcus Annaeus Seneca (BC 3-65 AD, Roman philosopher, dramatist, statesman)


The man who writes about himself and his own time is the only man who writes about all people and about all time.


George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950, Irish-born British dramatist)


You must not suppose, because I am a man of letters, that I never tried to earn an honest living.


George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950, Irish-born British dramatist)


I cringe when critics say I'm a master of the popular novel. What's an unpopular novel?


Irwin Shaw


Easy writings curse is hard reading.


Richard Brinsley Sheridan (1751-1816, Anglo-Irish dramatist)


Thus, with child to speak, and helpless in my throes, biting my truant pen, beating myself for spite: Fool! said my muse to me, look in thy heart, and write.


Sir Philip Sidney (1554-1586, British author, courtier)


Writing is not a profession, but a vocation of unhappiness.


Georges Simenon


A good writer is basically a story teller, not a scholar or a redeemer of mankind.


Isaac Bashevis Singer (1904-1991, Polish-born American journalist,  writer)


Paper and ink are all but trash, if I cannot find the thought which the writer did think.


Dr. Walter Smith


What I like in a good author isn't what he says, but what he whispers.


Logan Pearsall Smith (1865-1946, Anglo-American essayist, aphorist)


Whiskey has killed more men than bullets, but most men would rather be full of whiskey than bullets. What I like in a good author is not what he says, but what he whispers.


Logan Pearsall Smith (1865-1946, Anglo-American essayist, aphorist)


Agatha Christie has given more pleasure in bed than any other woman.


Nancy Banks Smith


The writer does the most good who gives his reader the most knowledge and takes from him the least time.


Sydney Smith (1771-1845, British writer, clergyman)


Employ your time in improving yourself by other men's writings so that you shall come easily by what others have labored hard for.


Socrates (BC 469-399, Greek philosopher of Athens)


Writing is the continuation of politics by other means.


Philippe Sollers


For a country to have a great writer is like having another government. That's why no regime has ever loved great writers, only minor ones.


Alexander Solzhenitsyn (1918-, Russian novelist)


The best emotions to write out of are anger and fear or dread. The least energizing emotion to write out of is admiration. It is very difficult to write out of because the basic feeling that goes with admiration is a passive contemplative mood.


Susan Sontag (1933-, American essayist)


A writer must always try to have a philosophy and he should also have a psychology and a philology and many other things. Without a philosophy and a psychology and all these various other things he is not really worthy of being called a writer. I agree with Kant and Schopenhauer and Plato and Spinoza and that is quite enough to be called a philosophy. But then of course a philosophy is not the same thing as a style.


Gertrude Stein (1874-1946, American author)


The discipline of the written word punishes both stupidity and dishonesty.


John Steinbeck (1902-1968, American author)


The profession of book writing makes horse racing seem like a solid, stable business.


John Steinbeck (1902-1968, American author)


Writers are a little below the clowns and a little above the trained seals.


John Steinbeck (1902-1968, American author)


Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I don't feel I should be doing something else.


Gloria Steinem (1934-, American feminist writer, editor)


What you're trying to do when you write is to crowd the reader out of his own space and occupy it with yours, in a good cause. You're trying to take over his sensibility and deliver an experience that moves from mere information.


Robert Stone (1937-, American novelist)


What an occupation! To sit and flay your fellow men and then offer their skins for sale and expect them to buy them.


August J. Strindberg (1849-1912, Swedish dramatist, novelist, poet)


Let's face it, writing is hell.


William Styron (1925-, American novelist)


O Grub Street! how do I bemoan thee, whose graceless children scorn to own thee! . Yet thou hast greater cause to be ashamed of them, than they of thee.


Jonathan Swift (1667-1745, Anglo-Irish satirist)


Style may be defined as the proper words in the proper places.


Jonathan Swift (1667-1745, Anglo-Irish satirist)


As a man has no right to kill one of his children if it is diseased or insane, so a man who has made the gradual and conscious expression of his personality in literature the aim of his life, has no right to suppress himself any carefully considered work which seemed good enough when it was written. Suppression, if it is deserved, will come rapidly enough from the same causes that suppress the unworthy members of a man's family.


J. M. Synge (1871-1909, Irish poet, dramatist)


Writing a book is just like entering into a wild jungle and coming home with fresh produce from a small grove of fruit trees that you found.


Baybars Tek Omer


The two most engaging powers of a good author are to make new things familiar and familiar things new.


William M. Thackeray (1811-1863, Indian-born British novelist)


A perfectly healthy sentence, it is true, is extremely rare. For the most part we miss the hue and fragrance of the thought; as if we could be satisfied with the dews of the morning or evening without their colors, or the heavens without their azure.


Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862, American essayist, poet, naturalist)


As for style of writing, if one has anything to say, it drops from him simply and directly, as a stone falls to the ground.


Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862, American essayist, poet, naturalist)


How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.


Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862, American essayist, poet, naturalist)


Some American writers who have known each other for years have never met in the daytime or when both were sober.


James Thurber (1894-1961, American humorist, illustrator)


When all things are equal, translucence in writing is more effective than transparency, just as glow is more revealing than glare.


James Thurber (1894-1961, American humorist, illustrator)


A writer is dear and necessary for us only in the measure of which he reveals to us the inner workings of his very soul.


Count Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910, Russian novelist, philosopher)


No doubt I shall go on writing, stumbling across tundras of unmeaning, planting words like bloody flags in my wake. Loose ends, things unrelated, shifts, nightmare journeys, cities arrived at and left, meetings, desertions, betrayals, all manner of unions, adulteries, triumphs, defeats... these are the facts.


Alexander Trocchi (1925-1983, Italian-Scottish novelist, poet, translator)


As to the adjective, when in doubt strike it out.


Mark Twain (1835-1910, American humorist, writer)


Most writers regard the truth as their most valuable possession, and therefore are economical in its use.


Mark Twain (1835-1910, American humorist, writer)


Write without pay until somebody offers to pay you. If nobody offers within three years, sawing wood is what you were intended for.


Mark Twain (1835-1910, American humorist, writer)


Writing is simple. First you have to make sure you have plenty of paper... sharp pencils... typewriter ribbon. Then put your belly up to your desk... roll a sheet of paper into the typewriter... and stare at it until beads of blood appear on your forehead.


Author Unknown


Each writer is born with a repertory company in his head. Shakespeare has perhaps 20 players, and Tennessee Williams has about 5, and Samuel Beckett one -- and maybe a clone of that one. I have 10 or so, and that's a lot. As you get older, you become more skillful at casting them.


Gore Vidal (1925-, American novelist, critic)


Many writers who choose to be active in the world lose not virtue but time, and that stillness, without which literature cannot be made.


Gore Vidal (1925-, American novelist, critic)


Most bad books get that way because their authors are engaged in trying to justify themselves. If a vain author is an alcoholic, then the most sympathetically portrayed character in his book will be an alcoholic. This sort of thing is very boring for outsiders.


Stephen Vizinczey (1933-, Hungarian novelist, critic)


Most bad books get that way because their authors are engaged in trying to justify themselves. If a vain author is an alcoholic, then the most sympathetically portrayed character in his book will be an alcoholic. This sort of thing is very boring for outsiders.


Stephen Vizinczey (1933-, Hungarian novelist, critic)


You can never correct your work well until you have forgotten it.


Francois-Marie Arouet de Voltaire (1694-1778, French historian, writer)


I love being a writer, what I can't stand is the paperwork.


Peter De Vries (1910-1993, American author)


Writing saved me from the sin and inconvenience of violence.


Alice Walker (1944-, American author, critic)


Every drop of ink in my pen ran cold.


Horace Walpole (1717-1797, British author)


Once in seven years I burn all my sermons; for it is a shame if I cannot write better sermons now than I did seven years ago.


John Wesley (1703-1791, British preacher, founder of Methodism)


Good writing is clear thinking made visible.


Bill Wheeler


I am often mad, but I would hate to be nothing but mad: and I think I would lose what little value I may have as a writer if I were to refuse, as a matter of principle, to accept the warming rays of the sun, and to report them, whenever, and if ever, they


Elwyn Brooks White (1899-1985, American author, editor)


In a sense the world dies every time a writer dies, because, if he is any good, he has been a wet nurse to humanity during his entire existence and has held earth close around him, like the little obstetrical toad that goes about with a cluster of eggs attached to his legs.


Elwyn Brooks White (1899-1985, American author, editor)


Writing is an act of faith, not a trick of grammar.


Elwyn Brooks White (1899-1985, American author, editor)


A man really writes for an audience of about ten persons. Of course if others like it, that is clear gain. But if those ten are satisfied, he is content.


Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947, British mathematician, philosopher)


Writing is not like painting where you add. It is not what you put on the canvas that the reader sees. Writing is more like a sculpture where you remove, you eliminate in order to make the work visible. Even those pages you remove somehow remain.


Elie Wiesel (1928-, Rumanian-born American writer)


Anybody can write a three-volume novel. It merely requires a complete ignorance of both life and literature.


Oscar Wilde (1856-1900, British author, wit)


From the point of view of literature Mr. Kipling is a genius who drops his aspirates. From the point of view of life, he is a reporter who knows vulgarity better than any one has ever known it.


Oscar Wilde (1856-1900, British author, wit)


His style is chaos illumined by flashes of lightning. As a writer he has mastered everything except language.


Oscar Wilde (1856-1900, British author, wit)


This morning I took out a comma and this afternoon I put it back in again.


Oscar Wilde (1856-1900, British author, wit)


The future author is one who discovers that language, the exploration and manipulation of the resources of language, will serve him in winning through to his way.


Thornton Wilder (1897-1975, American novelist, playwright)


A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.


Virginia Woolf (1882-1941, British novelist, essayist)


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 (1882-1941, British novelist, essayist)


I was in a queer mood, thinking myself very old: but now I am a woman again -- as I always am when I write.


Virginia Woolf (1882-1941, British novelist, essayist)


We are nauseated by the sight of trivial personalities decomposing in the eternity of print.


Virginia Woolf (1882-1941, British novelist, essayist)


The creations of a great writer are little more than the moods and passions of his own heart, given surnames and Christian names, and sent to walk the earth.


William Butler Yeats (1865-1939, Irish poet, playwright.)


Clutter is the disease of American writing. We are a society strangling in unnecessary words, circular constructions, pompous frills and meaningless jargon.


William Zinsser (American author, "On Writing Well")


Four basic premises of writing: clarity, brevity, simplicity, and humanity.


William Zinsser (American author, "On Writing Well")


Hard writing makes easy reading. Easy writing makes hard reading.


William Zinsser (American author, "On Writing Well")


Writing is a craft not an art.


William Zinsser (American author, "On Writing Well")


Writing is thinking on paper.


William Zinsser (American author, "On Writing Well")


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