Writing Quotes

Some of my favorite writing quotes follow. Please send me some of yours to sally@sally-apokedak.com. I’ll add them to the page!

Bad Books:

  • I’m all in favor of keeping dangerous weapons out of the hands of fools. Let’s start with typewriters.
    ~Frank Lloyd Wright
  • Blessed is the man who, having nothing to say, abstains from giving to words evidence of the fact.
    ~George Eliot (Mary Anne Evans)


  • My characters are quite as real to me as so-called real people; which is one reason I’m not subjected to what is known as loneliness. I have plenty of company.
    ~William S. Burroughs
  • The bad novelist constructs his characters; he directs them and makes them speak. The true novelist listens to them and watches them act; he hears their voices even before he knows them.
    ~Andre Gide
  • The moment comes when a character does or says something you hadn’t thought about. At that moment he’s alive and you leave it to him.
    ~Graham Greene
  • Show the reader what the character thinks about, and then the reader will think about it too.
    ~George V. Higgins
  • Just because we’re fictional characters doesn’t mean you can pick us up and move us anywhere you want.
    ~the people of Lake Woebegone to Garrison Keillor
  • If you’re silent for a long time, people just arrive in your mind.
    ~Alice Walker


  • I was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning, and took out a comma. In the afternoon I put it back again.
    ~Oscar Wilde

Good Books:

  • A good book is never exhausted. It goes on whispering to you from the wall.
    ~Anatole Broyard
  • No book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally (and often far more) worth reading at the age of fifty.
    ~C.S. Lewis
  • All really good picture books are written to be read five hundred times
    ~Rosemary Wells


  • If you stuff yourself full of poems, essays, plays, stories, novels, films, comic strips, magazines, music, you automatically explode every morning like Old Faithful. I have never had a dry spell in my life, mainly because I feed myself well, to the point of bursting. I wake early and hear my morning voices leaping around in my head like jumping beans. I get out of bed quickly, to trap them before they escape.
    ~Ray Bradbury


  • Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.
    ~Albert Einstein
  • Writers do not write what they know. They write what they can imagine.
    ~Walter Dean Myers
  • The immature artist imitates. The mature artists steal.
    ~Lionel Trilling

Helping Others:

  • I don’t think it’s very useful to open wide the door for young artists; the ones who break down the door are more interesting.
    ~Paul Schrader


  • Fantasy’s hardly an escape from reality. It’s a way of understanding it.
    ~Lloyd Alexander
  • There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them.
    ~Ray Bradbury
  • I suggest that the only books that influence us are those for which we are ready, and which have gone a little farther down our particular path than we have yet got ourselves.
    ~E.M. Forster
  • You may have tangible wealth untold. Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold. Richer than I you can never be–I had a mother who read to me.
    ~Strickland Gillilan
  • You have to write whichever book it is that wants to be written. And then, if it’s going to be too difficult for grown-ups, you write it for children.
    ~Madeleine L’Engle
  • You can understand and relate to most people better if you look at them–no matter how old or impressive they may be–as if they are children. For most of us never really grow up or mature all that much–we simply grow taller. O, to be sure, we laugh less and play less and wear uncomfortable disguises like adults, but beneath the costume is the child we always are, whose needs are simple, whose daily life is still best described by fairy tales.
    ~Leo Rosten
  • Readers re-create any story to suit their own needs. They re-clothe the story in their own shirts. Put simply: just as we write the story we need to write, they read the story they need to read.
    ~Jane Yolen

Risking it All:

  • Anything I’ve ever done that ultimately was worthwhile initially scared me to death.
    ~Betty Bender
  • Only those that risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.
    ~T.S. Eliot
  • If you are skating on thin ice, you might as well dance.
    ~Jesse Winchester


  • Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.
    ~Anton Chekhov
  • [Words] are smooth stones from the brook of time, worn round by the friction of tongues long silent.
    ~Andrew Lang
  • The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.
    ~Mark Twain

Writers Are:

  • We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.
    ~Ray Bradbury
  • Writers are students of human nature. That’s why they work alone.
    ~Tim Liebe
  • Writers are a little below the clowns and a little above the trained seals.
    ~John Steinbeck

Writers’ Views:

  • Write from the soul, not from some notion what you think the marketplace wants. The market is fickle; the soul is eternal.
    ~Jeffrey A. Carver
  • Writing a picture book is like writing ‘War & Peace’ in Haiku.
    ~Mem Fox
  • An artist is someone who can hold two opposing viewpoints and still remain fully functional.
  • ~F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • You see things as they are and ask, ‘Why?’ I dream things as they never were and ask, ‘Why not?
    ~George Bernard Shaw

Writing Life:

  • You have to know how to accept rejection and reject acceptance.
    ~Ray Bradbury
  • The beautiful part of writing is that you don’t have to get it right the first time, unlike, say, a brain surgeon
    ~Robert Cormier
  • No book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally (and often far more) worth reading at the age of fifty.
    ~C.S. Lewis
  • When I was a young boy they called me a liar. Now that I’m all grown up, they call me a writer.
    ~Isaac Bashevis Singer
  • Every story teaches me how to write it. Unfortunately, it doesn’t teach me how to write the next one.
    ~Eudora Welty