Writing: to put words to paper (or computer screen) is a kind of communication where one expresses thoughts and another reads and responds. We often write instead of just speak because we want our words to be more thoughtful or more lasting. What have some writers and others said about the work of writing?
Ideas may drift into other minds, but they do not drift my way. I have to go and fetch them. I know no work manual or mental to equal the appalling heart-breaking anguish of fetching an idea from nowhere.
When we speak, in gestures or signs, we fashion a real object in the world; the gesture is seen, the words and the song are heard. The arts are simply a kind of writing, which, in one way or another, fixes words or gestures, and gives body to the invisible.
Living gives you a better understanding of life. I would hope that my characters have become deeper and more rounded personalities. Wider travels have given me considerably greater insight into how cultural differences affect not only people, but politics and art.
The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself.
A bad book is as much of a labor to write as a good one, it comes as sincerely from the author’s soul.
The author of the Iliad is either Homer or, if not Homer, somebody else of the same name.
Deliver me from writers who say the way they live doesn’t matter. 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.
Sleep on your writing; take a walk over it; scrutinize it of a morning; review it of an afternoon; digest it after a meal; let it sleep in your drawer a twelvemonth; never venture a whisper about it to your friend, if he be an author especially. You may read selections to sensible women, — if young the better.
The role of a writer is not to say what we can all say, but what we are unable to say.
Anyone can see that to write Uncle Tom’s Cabin on the knee in the kitchen, with constant calls to cooking and other details of housework to punctuate the paragraphs, was a more difficult achievement than to write it at leisure in a quiet room.
And when her biographer says of an Italian woman poet, ‘during some years her Muse was intermitted,’ we do not wonder at the fact when he casually mentions her ten children.
The writing day can be, in some ways, too short, but it’s actually a long series of hours, for months at a time, and there is a stillness there.
Too often, I think, children are required to write before they have anything to say. Teach them to think and read and talk with self-repression, and they will write because they cannot help it.
Black writers, of whatever quality, who step outside the pale of what black writers are supposed to write about, or who black writers are supposed to be, are condemned to silences in black literary circles that are as total and as destructive as any imposed by racism.
I write for those women who do not speak, for those who do not have a voice because they were so terrified, because we are taught to respect fear more than ourselves. We’ve been taught that silence would save us, but it won’t.
The computer brings out the uptight perfectionist in us — we start editing ideas before we have them.
Even those who write against fame wish for the fame of having written well, and those who read their works desire the fame of having read them.
When all is said and done, the invention of writing must be reckoned not only as a brilliant innovation but as a surpassing good for humanity. And assuming that we survive long enough to use their inventions wisely, I believe the same will be said of the modern Thoths and Prometheuses who are today devising
computers and programs at the edge of machine intelligence.
Many books require no thought from those who read them, and for a very simple reason; they made no such demand upon those who wrote them.
I am neither a man nor a woman but an author.
In books, as in life, there are no second chances. On second thought: it’s the next work, still to be written, that offers the second chance.
Novelists go about the strenuous business of marrying and burying their people, or else they send them to sea, or to Africa, or at the least, out of town. Essayists in their stillness ponder love and death.
Anyone who believes you can’t change history has never tried to write his memoirs.
For most digital-age writers, writing is rewriting. We grope, cut, block, paste, and twitch, panning for gold onscreen by deleting bucketloads of crap. Our analog ancestors had to polish every line mentally before hammering it out mechanically. Rewrites cost them months, meters of ink ribbon, and pints of Tippex. Poor sods.
Those truly linked don’t need correspondence.
When they meet again after many years apart,
Their friendship is as true as ever.
One of the obligations of the writer is to say or sing all that he or she can, to deal with as much of the world as becomes possible to him or her in language.
English usage is sometimes more than mere taste, judgment and education — sometimes it’s sheer luck, like getting across the street.
You can teach someone who cares to write columns, but you can’t teach someone who writes columns to care.
The reason one writes isn’t the fact he wants to say something. He writes because he has something to say.
There was never a good biography of a good novelist. There couldn’t be. He is too many people if he’s any good.
The human race may be compared to a writer. At the outset a writer has often only a vague general notion of the plan of his work, and of the thought he intends to elaborate. As he proceeds, penetrating his material, laboring to express himself fitly, he lays a firmer grasp on his thought; he finds himself. So the human race is writing its story, finding itself, discovering its own underlying purpose, revising, recasting a tale pathetic often, yet none the less sublime.
Everywhere I go I’m asked if I think the university stifles writers. My opinion is that they don’t stifle enough of them. There’s many a best-seller that could have been prevented by a good teacher.
You ask me why I do not write something…. I think one’s feelings waste themselves in words, they ought all to be distilled into actions and into actions which bring results.
I am writing in the garden. To write as one should of a garden one must write not outside it or merely somewhere near it, but in the garden.
It is my ambition to say in ten sentences what others say in a whole book.
Of all that is written, I love only what a person has written with his own blood.
A great value of antiquity lies in the fact that its writings are the only ones that modern men still read with exactness.
A diary means yes indeed.
Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.
Good things, when short, are twice as good.
Criticism is prejudice made plausible.
All human beings have an innate need to hear and tell stories and to have a story to live by … religion, whatever else it has done, has provided one of the main ways of meeting this abiding need.
How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.
If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn’t brood. I’d type a little faster.
I start with a tingle, a kind of feeling of the story I will write. Then come the characters, and they take over, they make the story.
Arguments over grammar and style are often as fierce as those over IBM versus Mac, and as fruitless as Coke versus Pepsi and boxers versus briefs.
With 60 staring me in the face, I have developed inflammation of the sentence structure and a definite hardening of the paragraphs.
Writing is a solitary occupation. Family, friends, and society are the natural enemies of the writer. He must be alone, uninterrupted, and slightly savage if he is to sustain and complete an undertaking.
Whether it is political action or artistic creation, it must be the same process. It seems to me that of those songs that have been any good, I have not had much to do with the writing of them. The words have just crawled down my sleeve and come out on the page.
Let us tenderly and kindly cherish, therefore, the means of knowledge. Let us dare to read, think, speak, and write.