The responsibility of a writer is to excavate the experience of the people who produced him.
Writers write from empathy.
A writer is a foreign country.
I am a galley slave to pen and ink.
A writer is a reader moved to emulation.
Writers are always selling somebody out.
Rage is to writers what water is to fish.
Perversity is the muse of modern literature.
Great writers are the saints for the godless.
The good writer is first of all an enchanter.
Writers should be read, but neither seen nor heard.
A professional writer is an amateur who didn't quit.
A writer is a palmist, reading the lines of the planet.
A writer should not so much write as embroider on paper.
The chief glory of every people arises from its authors.
Anybody can make history. Only a great man can write it.
Some editors are failed writers, but so are most writers.
Writers really live in the mind and in hotels of the soul.
Writers, like teeth, are divided into incisors and grinders.
If you are a writer you locate yourself behind a wall of silence.
The writer's imagination is the looter among other people's lives.
A writer is rarely so well inspired as when he talks about himself.
The writer is an explorer. Every step is an advance into a new land.
Being a writer in a library is rather like being a eunuch in a harem.
When a writer talks about his work, he's talking about a love affair.
The writer of good will carries a lamp to illuminate the dark corners.
Isn't disloyalty as much the writer's virtue as loyalty is the soldier's.
I am a camera with its shutter open, quite passive, recording, not thinking.
Thought flies and words go on foot. Therein lies all the drama of the writer.
I am a comic writer, which means I get to slay the dragons, and shoot the bull.
A writer should have the precision of a poet and the imagination of a scientist.
I live in the world rather as a spectator of mankind, than as one of the species.
A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.
All a writer has to do to get a woman is to say he's a writer. It's an aphrodisiac.
There are three certainties in a writer's life: death, taxes, and rejection letters.
We never know how much has been missing from our lives until a true writer comes along.
A writer's mind seems to be situated partly in the solar plexus and partly in the head.
When it comes to their essential faculty as writers, all writers are androgynous beings.
The tension between standing apart and being fully involved; that is what makes a writer.
A witty writer is like a porcupine; his quill makes no distinction between friend and foe.
The shelf life of the modern hardback writer is somewhere between the milk and the yogurt.
It's not the college degree that makes a writer. The great thing is to have a story to tell.
Every writer is a frustrated actor who recites his lines in the hidden auditorium of his skull.
People who write fiction, if they had not taken it up, might have become very successful liars.
A writer is someone who takes the universal whore of language and turns her into a virgin again.
Telling a writer to relax is like telling a man to relax while being prodded for a possible hernia.
The writer is either a practicing recluse or a delinquent, guilt-ridden one; or both. Usually both.
For your born writer, nothing is so healing as the realization that he has come upon the right word.
In my writing I am acting as a map maker, an explorer of psychic areas...a cosmonaut of inner space.
I'm all in favor of keeping dangerous weapons out of the hands of fools. Let's start with typewriters.
The author who speaks about his own books is almost as bad as a mother who talks about her own children.
When we look back upon human records, how the eye settles upon writers as the main landmarks of the past.
Life cannot defeat a writer who is in love with writing - for life itself is a writer's love until death.
A writer never forgets the first time he accepted a few coins or a word of praise in exchange for a story.
A ream of fresh paper lies on my desk waiting for the next book, I am a writer and I take up my pen to write.
The writer must soak up the subject completely, as a plant soaks up water, until the ideas are ready to sprout.
Don't ask a writer what he's working on. It's like asking someone with cancer about the progress of his disease.
The real writer is haunted by a plot which he must write out of inner necessity. He is impervious to suggestions.
Who wants to become a writer? And why? Because it's the answer to everything. To "Why am I here?" To uselessness.
It is splendid to be a great writer, to put men into the frying pan of your words and make them pop like chestnuts.
Every writer is a narcissist. This does not mean that he is vain; it only means that he is hopelessly self-absorbed.
The whole duty of a writer is to please and satisfy himself, and the true writer always plays to an audience of one.
Every secret of a writer's soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind is written large in his works.
If I wanted to write, I had to be willing to develop a kind of concentration found mostly in people awaiting execution.
It is the writer who might catch the imagination of young people, and plant a seed that will flower and come to fruition.
Everywhere I go I'm asked if I think the university stifles writers. My opinion is that they don't stifle enough of them.
The life of a writer, whatever he might fancy to the contrary, was not so much a state of composition, as a state of warfare.
My answer to the question "Why do you write?" is that I write for the same reason I breathe—because if I didn't, I would die.
Writers, not psychiatrists, are the true interpreters of the human mind and heart, and we have been at it for a very long time.
Show me a writer, any writer, who hasn't suffered and I'll show you someone who writes in pastels as opposed to primary colors.
Personality is a skin that no writer can slip, whatever he may write about...it is a shadow which walks inexorably by his side.
The devoted writer of humor must continue to try to come as close to the truth as he can, even if he gets burned in the process.
Bees are sometimes drowned (or suffocated) in the honey which they collect. So some writers are lost in their collected learning.
Writers are vacuum cleaners who suck up other people's lives and weave them into stories like a sparrow builds a nest from scraps.
One of my pet theories is that the writer is a kind of evangelist, more subtle than Billy Graham, of course, but of the same stuff.
Great writers arrive among us like new diseases—threatening, powerful, impatient for patients to pick up their virus, irresistible.
A word is not the same with one writer as with another. One tears it from his guts. The other pulls it out of his overcoat pocket.
All writers know that on some golden mornings they are touched by the wand; they are on intimate terms with poetry and cosmic truth.
The novelist, afraid his ideas may be foolish, slyly puts them in the mouth of some other fool and reserves the right to disavow them.
A real writer learns from earlier writers the way a boy learns from an apple orchard–by stealing what he has a taste for and can carry off.
For a country to have a great writer is like having a second government. That is why no regime has ever loved great writers, only minor ones.
The hard necessity of bringing the judge on the bench down into the dock has been the peculiar responsibility of the writer in all ages of man.
A writer's life is solitary, often bitter. How pleasant it is to come out of one's room, to fly about the world, make speeches, and cut a swath.
A writer is someone born with a gift. An athlete can run. A painter can paint. A writer has a facility with words. A good writer can also think.
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.
Why writers write I do not know. As well ask why a hen lays an egg or why a cow stands patiently while an underprivileged farmer burglarizes her.
The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shock-proof shit detector. This is the writer's radar and all great writers have had it.
The writer is the Faust of modern society, the only surviving individualist in a mass age. To his orthodox contemporaries, he seems a semi-madman.
Writers do not live one life, they live two. There is the living and then there is the writing. There is the second tasting, the delayed reaction.
A writer didn't need "an" idea for a book; she needed at least forty. And "get" was the wrong word, implying that you received an idea as you would a gift.
The career of a writer is comparable to that of a woman of easy virtue. You write first for pleasure, later for the pleasure of others and finally for money.
What no wife of a writer can ever understand, no matter if she lives with him for twenty years, is that a writer is working when he's staring out the window.
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.
In the guise of "seeking feedback," many writers are trolling for compliments. When they ask for your opinion of their work, too often they mean your praise.
Good writers define reality; bad ones merely restate it. A good writer turns fact into truth; a bad writer will, more often than not, accomplish the opposite.
Asking a writer to account for the genesis of his or her ideas is as futile as asking a spider to explain the source of its web and the method of its construction.
The Writers must fortify themselves with pride and egotism as best they can. The process is analogous to using sandbags and loose timbers to protect a house against flood.
A great writer creates a world of his own and his readers are proud to live in it. A lesser writer may entice them in for a moment, but soon he will watch them filing out.
Is it true that writers are pillagers of privacy? Yes. And it is also true that others get hurt along the way. But what are a few hurt feelings along the fiction trail?
I look at my books the way parents look at their children. The fact that one becomes more successful than the other doesn't make them love the less successful one any less.
Sloth in writers is always a symptom of acute inner conflict. Perfectionists are notoriously lazy, and all truly artistic indolence is deeply neurotic: a pain not a pleasure.
I have from the first felt sure that the writer, when he sits down to commence his novel, should do so, not because he has to tell a story, but because he has a story to tell.
A writer is a vehicle. I feel the story I am writing existed before I existed; I'm just the slob who finds it, and rather clumsily tries to do it, and the characters, justice.
Actors yearn for the perfect director, athletes for the perfect coach, priests for the perfect pope, presidents for the perfect historian. Writers hunger for the perfect reviewer.
Sit down and put down everything that comes into your head and then you're a writer. But an author is one who can judge his own stuff's worth, without pity, and destroy most of it.
Life really can't utterly defeat a writer who is in love with writing, for life itself is a writer's lover until death; fascinating, cruel, lavish, warm, cold, treacherous, constant.
All writers wind up metaphorically in the servants' quarters. When you write, you're taking orders from somewhere—a higher (or at least a lower) power—and the work isn't always pretty.
A writer is so like a lover! And a talk with the right listener is so like an arm-in-arm walk in the moonlight with the soft heartbeat just felt through the folds of muslin and broadcloth.
If there is a special Hell for writers it would be in the forced contemplation of their own works, with all the misconceptions, the omissions, the failures that any finished work of art implies.
The writer is a definite human phenomenon. He is almost a type-–as pugilists are a type. He may be a bad writer–an insipid one or a clumsy one-–but there is a bug in him that keeps spinning yarns.
Every writer, without exception, is a masochist, a sadist, a peeping Tom, an exhibitionist, a narcissist, an injustice collector, and a depressed person constantly haunted by fears of unproductivity.
Of course the writer cannot always burn with a hard gemlike flame or a white heat, but it should be possible to be a chubby hot-water bottle, rendering maximum attentiveness in the most enterprising sentences.
A writer out of loneliness is trying to communicate like a distant star sending signals. He isn't telling or teaching or ordering. Rather he seeks to establish a relationship of meaning, of feeling, of observing.
I don't think writers are sacred, but words are. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones in the right order, you can nudge the world a little or make a poem which children will speak for you when you're dead.
If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second greatest favor you can do them is to present them with copies of The Elements of Style. The first greatest, of course, is to shoot them now, while they're happy.
Every human being has hundreds of separate people living under his skin. The talent of a writer is his ability to give them their separate names, identities, personalities, and have them relate to other characters living within him.
Every writer since the beginning of time, just like other people, has been afflicted by what [a] friend of mine called "the fleas of life"—you know, colds, hangovers, bills, sprained ankles, and little nuisances of one sort or another.
Delay is natural to a writer. He is like a surfer—he bides his time, waits for the perfect wave on which to ride in. Delay is instinctive with him. He waits for the surge (of emotion? of strength? of courage?) that will carry him along.
The writer has to take the most used, most familiar objects—nouns, pronouns, verbs, adverbs—ball them together and make them bounce, turn them a certain way and make people get into a romantic mood; and another way, into a bellicose mood.
It is not my experience that society hates and fears the writer, or that society adulates the writer. Instead my experience is the common one, that society places the writer so far beyond the pale that society does not regard the writer at all.
Writers may be classified as meteors, planets, and fixed stars. A meteor makes a striking effect for a moment. You look up and cry "There!" and it is gone forever. Planets and wandering stars last a much longer time. They often outshine the fixed stars . . . only because they are near. It is not long before they must yield their place.
While others who have something to say or who want to be effectual, like musicians or baseball players or politicians, have to get out there in front of people, writers, who tend to be shy, get to stay home and still be public. There are many obvious advantages to this. You don't have to dress up, for instance, and you can't hear them boo you right away.
The writer's only responsibility is to his art. He will be completely ruthless if he is a good one. He has a dream. It anguishes him so much he must get rid of it. He has no peace until then. Everything goes by the board: honor, pride, decency, security, happiness, all, to get the book written. If a writer has to rob his mother, he will not hesitate; the "Ode on a Grecian Urn" is worth any number of old ladies.
There is no way that writers can be tamed and rendered civilized. Or even cured. In a household with more than one person, of which one is a writer, the only solution known to science is to provide the patient with an isolation room, where he can endure the acute stages in private, and where food can be poked in to him with a stick. Because, if you disturb the patient at such times, he may break into tears or become violent. Or he may not hear you at all...and, if you shake him at this stage, he bites.
A good man therefore is a standing lesson to all his acquaintance, and of far greater use in that narrow circle than a good book. But, as it often happens, that the best men are but little known, and consequently cannot extend the usefulness of their examples a great way; the writer may be called in aid to spread their history farther, and to present the amiable pictures to those who have not the happiness of knowing the originals; and so, by communicating such valuable patterns to the world, he may, perhaps, do a more extensive service to mankind than the person whose life originally afforded the pattern.