I don’t write books, plays or poems (and probably never will) but I am still a writer.
Many famous quotes about writing are as relevant to copywriters as they are to creative writers, because the fundamental art of writing – and the trials and tribulations involved – is the same for both.
Here are a few of my favourite quotes about the writing process.
“If you wait for inspiration to write; you’re not a writer, you’re a waiter.” ~ Dan Poynter
“Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere.” ~ Anne Lamott
“Few things are impossible to diligence and skill. Great works are performed not by strength, but perseverance.” ~ Samuel Johnson
“The more you read, the less apt you are to make a fool of yourself with your pen or word processor.” ~ Stephen King
“Don’t use words too big for the subject. Don’t say ‘infinitely’ when you mean ‘very’; otherwise you’ll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.” ~ C.S. Lewis
“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
The revision process
“The beautiful part of writing is that you don’t have to get it right first time, unlike say a brain surgeon.” ~ Robert Cormier
“Write freely and as rapidly as possible and throw the whole thing on paper. Never correct or rewrite until the whole thing is down.” ~ John Steinbeck
“All morning I worked on the proof of one of my poems, and I took out a comma; in the afternoon, I put it back.” ~ Oscar Wilde
“Let grammar, punctuation, and spelling into your life! Even the most energetic and wonderful mess has to be turned into sentences.” ~ Terry Pratchett
“People who cannot distinguish between good and bad language, or who regard the distinction as unimportant, are unlikely to think carefully about anything else.” ~ B.R. Meyers
“An excessive use of exclamation marks is a certain indication of an unpractised writer.” ~ H.W. Fowler
“Grammar is a piano I play by ear. All I know about grammar is its power.” ~ Joan Didion
“You can’t think yourself out of a writing block; you have to write yourself out of a thinking block.” ~ John Rogers
“Just think about it. Deeply. Then forget it. And an idea will ‘jump up in your face.’”~ Don Draper (from the TV series Mad Men)
Being a writer
“Anyone can make the simple complicated. Creativity is making the complicated simple.” ~ Charles Mingus
“Easy reading is damn hard writing.” ~ Nathaniel Hawthorne
“If writing seems hard, it’s because it is hard. It’s one of the hardest things people do.” ~ William Zinsser
Do any of these quotes resonate with you? Or do you have a better quote about writing that you’d care to share?