Famous Writing Quotes That Nobody Knows About
There are a few quotes about writing that almost everybody knows about. Stephen King (“The scariest moment is always just before you start.”), Mark Twain (“Write what you know.”), and Ernest Hemingway (“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”) all are given credit for famous quotes about writing that even non-writers know about.
But what about the famous writing quotes that nobody has heard of? There are plenty of useful quotes that should get more attention too. For example:
“Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words.” Mark Twain
Just like Ernest Hemingway’s more famous quote, this one sarcastically suggests that writing is easy. If you’re going to come up with a famous quote about writing, start off by implying it’s easy. And be a famous writer already.
“There’s no such thing as writer’s block. That was invented by people in California who couldn’t write.”– Terry Pratchett
Everybody hates writers block, but hardly anybody knows about this quote, maybe because a lot of people live in California and the quote implies they’re bad writers. If the author had made fun of Texas, then all the writers in California would have loved this quote.
“All the information you need can be given in dialogue.”- Elmore Leonard
That may be true, but some readers don’t like people (or characters) who talk too much. Plus, too much exposition through dialogue can be painful to read.
“The adjective is the enemy of the noun.”– Francois Marie Arouet de Voltaire
Authors always complain about the overuse of something, but it’s usually adverbs or exclamation points. I don’t get it. What’s the point of having a part of speech and then not use it again and again?
“Literature is all, or mostly, about sex.” – Anthony Burgess
This is why the public thinks writers are a bunch of perverts.
Literature is about relationships. Sex is merely one part of a relationship. And even if literature is mostly about sex, authors should never admit it.
“If you write one story, it may be bad; if you write a hundred, you have the odds in your favor.” – Edgar Rice Burroughs
This sounds like something James Patterson might say.
Putting potential readers through 100 bad stories just to get to one good one seems wrong, but I see a lot of writers try it. Edgar Rice Burroughs managed to get a bunches and bunches of stories published in the days before Amazon. Today, anybody can self-publish a bunch of bad stories if they want and hope one becomes popular, but I wouldn’t try it.
“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
This quote was probably written before the age of the sequel, trilogy, and series.
“Write garbage… as long as you edit brilliantly.”- C.J. Cherryh
This is an awesome quote! When we write a piece of junk, we can just claim we haven’t finished editing yet. In fact, I don’t think I have finished editing anything yet… ever.
“Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very’; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.”- Mark Twain
Applying this advice to a writing assignment is a good way to get kicked out of school, but at least you can sound like Holden Caulfield.
“Easy reading is damned hard writing”- Nathaniel Hawthorne
The original quote was “Easy reading is very hard writing” until Hawthorne read Mark Twain.
These are a few famous quotes, but there are definitely more out there. What famous writing quotes do you think don’t get enough credit?