Writing Advice Quotes

Most popular writing advice quotes

Write drunk; edit sober.
Write while the heat is in you.
If you wish to be a writer, write.


Tell all the truth but tell it slant.


Only write when your pillow is on fire.
Too short is always better than too long.
Use the right word, not its second cousin.
As to the Adjective: when in doubt, strike it out.

parts of speech

Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.
Do not fire too much over the heads of your readers.
You write a hit play the same way your write a flop.
Jump off the cliff and build your wings on the way down.
Don't trust a brilliant idea unless it survives the hangover.
Write as if you were a movie camera. Get exactly what is there.
Think like a wise man but express yourself like the common people.

advisory communication

You must find some way to elevate your act of writing into entertainment.
Pick adjectives as you would pick a diamond or a mistress.  Too many are dangerous.

parts of speech

There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.
The first step to being a writer is to hitch your unconscious mind to your writing arm.
Remove all empty words from writings, résumés, conversation, except when they aim at courtesy.
Keep your paragraphs short.  Writing is visual—it catches the eye before it has a chance to catch the brain.
Stock your mind, stock your mind. It is your house of treasure and no one in the world can interfere with it.
Be still when you have nothing to say; when genuine passion moves you, say what you've got to say, and say it hot.


Appealing workplaces are to be avoided. One wants a room with no view, so imagination can meet memory in the dark.
If you aim for the wood, you will have nothing.  Aim past the wood, aim through the wood; aim for the chopping block.
You are working in clay, not marble, on paper, not eternal bronze; let that first sentence be as stupid as it wishes.
If you are in difficulties with a book, try the element of surprise.... Attack it at an hour when it isn't expecting it.
One of the few things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time.
If you would be pungent, be brief; for it is with words as with sunbeams—the more they are condensed, the deeper they burn.

brevity words

Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.
Write till your ink be dry, and with your tears
Moist it again; and frame some feeling line;
That may discover such integrity.
Be yourself and your readers will follow you anywhere. Try to commit an act of writing and they will jump overboard to get away.
Thou shalt infect thy reader with anxiety, stress,and tension, for these conditions that he deplores in life he relishes in fiction.
A sentence should read as if its author, had he held a plough instead of a pen, could have drawn a furrow deep and straight to the end.


Avoid the ecstatic adjectives that occupy such disproportionate space in every critic's quiver—words like "enthralling" and "luminous."

criticism parts of speech

Make sure that neither the favorable nor the unfavorable critics move into your head and take part in the composition of your next work.
If you want to get rich from writing, write the sort of thing that's read by persons who move their lips when they're reading to themselves.


In composing, as a general rule, run your pen through every other word you have written; you have no idea what vigor it will give your style.
Write as the wind blows and command all words like an army!  See them how they stand in rank ready for assault, the jolly, swaggering fellows!
The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shockproof shit detector. This is the writer's radar and all great writers have had it.
There is a similarity between juggling and composing on the typewriter. The trick is, when you spill something, make it look like a part of the act.
There is no rule on how to write.  Sometimes it comes easily and perfectly; sometimes it's like drilling rock and then blasting it out with charges.


First rule: Do not use semicolons.  They are transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing. All they do is show you've been to college.


The writer must believe that what he is doing is the most important thing in the world. And he must hold to this illusion even when he knows it is not true.
To survive, each sentence must have, at its heart, a little spark of fire, and this, whatever the risk, the novelist must pluck with his own hands from the blaze.


Journalism is a good place for any writer to start—the retailing of fact is always a useful trade and can it help you learn to appreciate the declarative sentence.


If writing must be a precise form of communication, it should be treated like a precision instrument. It should be sharpened, and it should not be used carelessly.


Always get to the dialogue as soon as possible. I always feel the thing to go for is speed. Nothing puts the reader off more than a great slab of prose at the start.


If you stuff yourself full of poems, essays, plays, stories, novels, films, comic strips, magazines, music, you automatically explode every morning like Old Faithful.
An old tutor of a college said to one of his pupils: "Read over your compositions and where ever you meet with a passage which you think is particularly fine, strike it out."
Writing has laws of perspective, of light and shade, just as painting does, or music.  If you are born knowing them, fine.  If not, learn them. Then rearrange the rules to suit yourself.
Give your main clause a little space. Prose is not like boxing; the skilled writer deliberately telegraphs his punch, knowing that the reader wants to take the message directly on the chin.

grammar punctuation

Dear authors! Suit your topics to your strength,
And ponder well your subject, and its length;
Nor lift your load, before you're quite aware
What weight your shoulders will, or will not, bear.
I learned that you should feel when writing, not like Lord Byron on a mountain top, but like a child stringing beads in kindergarten—happy, absorbed and quietly putting one bead on after another.
I always try to write on the principle of the iceberg. There is seven-eighths of it underwater for every part that shows. Anything you know, you can eliminate and it only strengthens your iceberg.
Read, read, read. Read everything—trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You'll absorb it. Then write.
We write to expose the unexposed. If there is one door in the castle you have been told not to go through, you must.  Otherwise, you'll just be rearranging furniture in rooms you've already been in.
I had learned already never to empty the well of my writing; but always to stop when there was still something there in the deep part of the well, and let it refill at night from the springs that fed it.
Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts.
Avoid the use of qualifiers. Rather, very, little, pretty—these are the leeches that infest the pond of prose, sucking the blood of words. The constant use of the adjective little (except to indicate size) is particularly debilitating.

parts of speech

If you here require a practical rule of me, I will present you with this: "Whenever you feel an impulse to perpetrate a piece of exceptionally fine writing, obey it—wholeheartedly—and delete it before sending your manuscript to press. Murder your darlings."
You expect far too much of a first sentence. Think of it as analogous to a good country breakfast: What we want is something simple, but nourishing to the imagination.  Hold the philosophy, hold the adjectives, just give us a plain subject and verb, and perhaps a wholesome, nonfattening adverb or two.
Never use a verb other than said to carry dialogue. The line of dialogue belongs to the character; the verb is the writer sticking his nose in. But said is far less intrusive than grumbled, gasped, cautioned, lied.  I once noticed Mary McCarthy ending a line of dialogue with "she asseverated," and had to stop reading to get the dictionary.
All your clear and pleasing sentences will fall apart if you don't keep remembering that writing is linear and sequential, that logic is the glue that holds it together, that tension must be maintained from one sentence to the next and from one paragraph to the next and from one section to the next, and that narrative—good old-fashioned storytelling—is what should pull your readers along without their noticing the tug.