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Anton ChekhovMedicine is my lawful wife, and literature is my mistress. When I get fed up with one, I spend the night with the other.

—  Anton Chekhov, 1860-1904, Russian writer

Eugene O’NeillWriting is my vacation from living.

—  Eugene O’Neill, 1888-1953, American playwright, Nobel 1936

Charles Caleb ColtonTo write what is worth publishing, to find honest people to publish it, and get sensible people to read it, are the three great difficulties in being an author.

—  Charles Caleb Colton, 1780-1832, English cleric & writer

Robert BenchleyThe free-lance writer is one who is paid per piece or per word or perhaps.

—  Robert Benchley, 1889-1945, American columnist

Cyril ConnollyBetter to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.

—  Cyril Connolly, 1903-1974, British writer

HoraceIt is not sufficient to combine
Well-chosen words in a well-ordered line.

—  Horace, 65-8 BC, Roman poet

Winston ChurchillWriting a book is an adventure. To begin with it is a toy then an amusement. Then it becomes a mistress, and then it becomes a master, and then it becomes a tyrant.

—  Winston Churchill, 1874-1965, British Prime Minister, Nobel 1953

Samuel JohnsonThe two most engaging powers of an author are to make new things familiar and familiar things new.

—  Samuel Johnson, 1709-1784, English writer

George Bernard ShawI do not know what I think until I write it.

—  George Bernard Shaw, 1856-1950, Irish writer, Nobel 1925

William WordsworthFill your paper with the breathings of your heart.

—  William Wordsworth, 1770-1850, English poet

Dorothy ParkerI hate writing, I love having written.

—  Dorothy Parker, 1893-1967, American writer, poet, satirist, critic

Dorothy ParkerWriting is the art of applying the ass to the seat.

—  Dorothy Parker, 1893-1967, American writer, poet, satirist, critic

George Bernard ShawMy method is to take the utmost trouble to find the right thing to say, and then to say it with the utmost levity.

—  George Bernard Shaw, 1856-1950, Irish writer, Nobel 1925

Benjamin FranklinEither write something worth reading or do something worth writing.

—  Benjamin Franklin, 1706-1790, American politician & writer

Mark TwainWriting is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words.

—  Mark Twain, 1835-1910, American writer

Ambrose BierceA popular author is one who writes what the people think. Genius invites them to think something else.

—  Ambrose Bierce, 1842–1914, American writer

George OrwellNever use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print. Never use a long word where a short one will do.

—  George Orwell, 1903-1950, British writer

Eugene IonescoA writer never has a vacation. For a writer, life consists of either writing or thinking about writing.

—  Eugene Ionesco, 1912-1994, French-Romanian playwright

Eugene IonescoYou have to write for yourself, that's how you can get to others.

—  Eugene Ionesco, 1912-1994, French-Romanian playwright

Somerset MaughamIf you can tell stories, create characters, devise incidents, and have sincerity and passion, it doesn't matter a damn how you write.

—  Somerset Maugham, 1874-1965, British writer

Samuel JohnsonI never desire to converse with a man who has written more than he has read.

—  Samuel Johnson, 1709-1784, English writer

Samuel Taylor ColeridgeWorks of imagination should be written in very plain language; the more purely imaginative they are the more necessary it is to be plain.

—  Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 1772-1834, English poet & philosopher

Benjamin DisraeliThe best way to become acquainted with a subject is to write about it.

—  Benjamin Disraeli, 1804-1881, British Prime Minister

Francis BaconReading maketh a full man, conference a ready man, and writing an exact man.

—  Francis Bacon, 1561-1626, English philosopher

VoltaireTo hold a pen is to be at war.

—  Voltaire, 1694-1778, French philosopher & writer

Ernest HemingwayWe are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.

—  Ernest Hemingway, 1899-1961, American writer, Nobel 1954

Ernest HemingwayThere is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.

—  Ernest Hemingway, 1899-1961, American writer, Nobel 1954

Ernest HemingwayWrite drunk, edit sober.

—  Ernest Hemingway, 1899-1961, American writer, Nobel 1954

Jules RenardWriting is a way of talking without being interrupted.

—  Jules Renard, 1864-1910, French writer

Jules RenardWriting is the only profession where no one considers you ridiculous if you earn no money.

—  Jules Renard, 1864-1910, French writer

Jean-Luc GodardA story should have a beginning, a middle and an end, but not necessarily in that order.

—  Jean-Luc Godard, 1930-, French film director

Paul ValeryWhat one wrote playfully, another reads with tension and passion; what one wrote with tension and passion, another reads playfully.

—  Paul Valery, 1871-1945, French poet

Paul ValeryOptimists do not write well.

—  Paul Valery, 1871-1945, French poet

Henry David ThoreauHow vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.

—  Henry David Thoreau, 1817-1862, American writer

Ernest HemingwayIt's harder to write in the third person but the advantage is you move around better.

—  Ernest Hemingway, 1899-1961, American writer, Nobel 1954

Fernando PessoaWriting is like paying myself a formal visit

—  Fernando Pessoa, 1888-1935, Portuguese poet & writer

Joseph StalinThe writer is the engineer of the human soul.

—  Joseph Stalin, 1879-1953, Soviet leader

Isaac AsimovI write for the same reason I breathe - because if I didn't, I would die.

—  Isaac Asimov, 1920-1992, American Sci-Fi writer

Isaac AsimovIf my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn't brood. I'd type a little faster.

—  Isaac Asimov, 1920-1992, American Sci-Fi writer

     (in a TV show; he claimed later that he had actually said “6 months”)

Isaac AsimovWriting, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers.

—  Isaac Asimov, 1920-1992, American Sci-Fi writer

Karl KrausA journalist is stimulated by a deadline. He writes worse when he has time.

—  Karl Kraus, 1874-1936, Austrian writer

T. S. EliotSome editors are failed writers, but so are most writers.

—  T. S. Eliot, 1888-1965, British poet, Nobel 1948

Anton ChekhovDon't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.

—  Anton Chekhov, 1860-1904, Russian writer

     (writing tip)

Anton ChekhovIf in the first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one it should be fired. Otherwise don't put it there.

—  Anton Chekhov, 1860-1904, Russian writer

Anton ChekhovIt’s easier to write about Socrates than about a young woman or a cook.

—  Anton Chekhov, 1860-1904, Russian writer

Anton ChekhovMy own experience is that once a story has been written, one has to cross out the beginning and the end. It is there that we authors do most of our lying.

—  Anton Chekhov, 1860-1904, Russian writer

Anton ChekhovIn displaying the psychology of your characters, minute particulars are essential. God save us from vague generalizations!

—  Anton Chekhov, 1860-1904, Russian writer

Samuel JohnsonWhat is written without effort is in general read without pleasure.

—  Samuel Johnson, 1709-1784, English writer

Charles Caleb ColtonThat author, however, who has thought more than he has read, read more than he has written, and written more than he published, if he does not command success, has at least deserved it.

—  Charles Caleb Colton, 1780-1832, English cleric & writer

Michel de MontaigneWriting does not cause misery. It is born of misery.

—  Michel de Montaigne, 1533-1592, French thinker

Umberto EcoTranslation is the art of failure.

—  Umberto Eco, 1932-2016, Italian writer

George OrwellWriting a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.

—  George Orwell, 1903-1950, British writer

Personal Stories

Benjamin DisraeliWhen I want to read a novel, I write one.

—  Benjamin Disraeli, 1804-1881, British Prime Minister

Latin Quotes

ApellesNot a day without a line.

Nulla dies sine linea.

—  Apelles, 4th cent. BC, Ancient Greek painter

Latin phraseWho writes, reads twice.

Qui scribit, bis legit.

—  Latin phrase

Quotes in Verse

Sylvia PlathI write only because
There is a voice within me
That will not be still.

—  Sylvia Plath, 1932-1963, American poet & writer

Philip Sidney“Fool,” said my muse to me.
“Look in thy heart and write.”

—  Philip Sidney, 1554-1586, English poet & courtier

Funny Quotes

Wilson MiznerTo steal ideas from one person is plagiarism; to steal from many is research.

—  Wilson Mizner, 1876-1913, American playwright

Steven WrightI'm writing an unauthorized autobiography

—  Steven Wright, 1955-, American comedian

Somerset MaughamThere are three rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.

—  Somerset Maugham, 1874-1965, British writer

Ancient Greek

Theocritus[I don’t write because] I cannot write as I want and I wouldn’t write as I can.

Ως μεν βούλομαι ου δύναμαι, ως δε δύναμαι ου βούλομαι.

—  Theocritus, 3rd cent. BC, Ancient Greek poet


Movie Quotes

Stalker (1979)A man writes because he is tormented, because he doubts. He needs to constantly prove to himself and the others that he's worth something. And if I know for sure that I'm a genius? Why write then? What the hell for?

—  from the film Stalker (1979)

As Good As it Gets (1997)-How do you write women so well?
- I think of a man, and I take away reason and accountability.

—  from the film As Good As it Gets (1997)


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2017: Manolis Papathanassiou