Mark Twain

As I noted when this post first ran in 2016, writers have never shied away from sharing thoughts about their craft, among other topics. In this occasional series we will have a look at some of their insights. I’ll begin with one of my favorite quotes 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

One more gem from Twain: “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug.”

Ernest Hemingway

“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.” – Ernest Hemingway

“This morning I took out a comma and this afternoon I put it back again.”– Oscar Wilde

“Reading and writing, like everything else, improve with practice. And, of course, if there are no young readers and writers, there will shortly be no older ones. Literacy will be dead, and democracy—which many believe goes hand in hand with it—will be dead as well.” – Margaret Atwood

“I don’t know much about creative writing programs. But they’re not telling the truth if they don’t teach, one, that writing is hard work, and, two, that you have to give up a great deal of life, your personal life, to be a writer.” – Doris Lessing

“Well, writing was what I wanted to do, it was always what I wanted to do. I had novels to write so I wrote them.” – Octavia Butler

“Writing is more about imagination than anything else. I fell in love with words. I fell in love with storytelling.” – Pat Conroy

Terry Pratchett had fun writing books like this.

“I don’t know how much longer I’ll be around. I’ll probably be writing when the Lord says, ‘Maya, Maya Angelou, it’s time.’” – Maya Angelou

“Writing is the most fun you can have by yourself.” – Terry Pratchett

“It seems disingenuous to ask a writer why she, or he, is writing about a violent subject when the world and history are filled with violence.” – Joyce Carol Oates

“I never read detective novels. I started out in graduate school writing a more serious book. Right around that time I read The Day of the Jackal and The Exorcist. I hadn’t read a lot of commercial fiction, and I liked them.” – James Patterson

“Even when I am writing I usually take a break around lunchtime and go for a little walk to clear out my head.” – Patricia Cornwell

Tess Gerritsen

“Writing’s still the most difficult job I’ve ever had—but it’s worth it.” – John Grisham

“I think that, for physicians who want to become writers, they have the material, the smarts, they have the logic, they know the stories; it’s just a matter of being able to connect with their emotional sides—that’s the key to writing good fiction.” – Tess Gerritsen

“My stories run up and bite me on the leg. I respond by writing down everything that goes on during the bite. When I finish, the idea lets go and runs off.” – Ray Bradbury

Writers rock, no? We’ll do more of this in the future.


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