Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Writing

"It is a sad fact about our culture that a poet can earn much more money writing or talking about his art than he can by practicing it." - W. H. Auden, fully Wystan Hugh Auden

"If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead,, either write things worth reading or do things worth writing." - Benjamin Franklin

"Literature is "The expression of a nation's mind in writing."" - William Ellery Channing

"Life cannot defeat a writer who is in love with writing - for life itself is a writer's love until death." - Edna Ferber

"Nothing hurts more than the friendly letter that one never got around to writing." - Brendan Francis Behan

"Knowledge is the foundation and source of good writing." - Horace, full name Quintus Horatius Flaccus NULL

"The secret of all good writing is sound judgment." - Horace, full name Quintus Horatius Flaccus NULL

"Writing for a penny a word is ridiculous. If a man wants to make a million dollars, the best way would be to start a new religion. [Scientology]" - L. Ron Hubbard, fully Lafayette Ronald Hubbard

"The only end of writing is to enable the readers better to enjoy life or better to endure it." -

"When writing is good, everything is symbolic, but symbolic writing is seldom good." - Wright Morris

"The process of writing a book is infinitely more important than the book that is completed as a result of the writing, let alone the success or failure the book may have after it is written... the book is merely a symbol of the writing. In writing the book, I am living. I am growing. I am tapping myself. I am changing. The process is the product." -

"The art of our era is not art, but technology. Today Rembrandt is painting automobiles; Shakespeare is writing research reports." - Howard Sparks

"Writing, when properly managed... is but a different name for conversation." - Lawrence Sterne, alternatively Laurence Sterne

"Every creation is subject to recurrence. Every thing you meet had a previous existence: whatever you have lost will come again. Every thing comes a second time: all things return to a settled position when they have gone away, all things begin when they have ceased to be. They are brought to an end in order that they may come into being: nothing is lost except that it may be recovered. All this revolving order of things, therefore, is evidence of the resurrection of the dead. God ordained it in works before He commanded it in writing, He proclaimed it by strength before he proclaimed it in words. He first sent you nature as teacher, intending to send you prophecy also, in order that having learnt from nature, you may the more easily believe prophecy." - Tertullian, fully Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullian NULL

"I have yet to see a piece of writing, political or non-political, that doesn’t have a slant. All writing slants the way a writer leans, and no man is born upright. The beauty of the American free press is that the slants and the twists and the distortions come from so many directions, and the special interests are so numerous, the reader must sift and sort and check and countercheck in order to find out what the score is." - E. B. White, fully Elwyn Brooks White

"Unconsciousness is one of the most important conditions of a good style in speaking or in writing." - Richard Grant White

"At the time of writing I never think of what I have said before. My aim is not to be consistent with my previous statements on a given question, but to be consistent with truth as it may present itself to me [at that] given moment. The result is that I have grown from truth to truth." - Mahatma Gandhi, fully Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, aka Bapu

"Assign someone to be your guardian angel. Give someone in your family, a member who’s smart and attentive, the assignment of writing down and recording everything that’s don’t to and for you… the largest number of adverse events, by far, is caused by medication errors." - Allan J Hamilton

"It is taken for granted in adult society that we cannot all be generalists skilled in every area of learning and mastery. Nevertheless, we apply tremendous pressure on our children to be good at everything. Every day they are expected to shine in math, reading, writing, speaking, spelling, memorization, comprehension, problem solving, socialization, athletics, and following verbal directions. Few if any children can master all of these “trades.” And none of us adults can. In one way or another, all minds have their specialties and their families." - Mel Levine, formally Melvin D Levine

"Major writing is to say what has been seen, so that it need never be said again." - Delmore Schwartz

"No race can prosper till it learns that there is as much dignity in tilling a field as in writing a poem." -

"The act of writing is an act of optimism; you would not take the trouble to do it if you felt that it didn't matter." - Edward Albee, fully Edward Franklin Albee

"It is by teaching that we teach ourselves, by relating that we observe, by affirming that we examine, by showing that we look, by writing that we think." -

"The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe." - David Hare, fully Sir David Hare

"To see what students learn in school, look at how they leave school. If they leave thinking that reading and writing are difficult and pointless, that mathematics is confusing, that history is irrelevant, and that art is a bore, then that is what they have been taught. People learn what is demonstrated to them, and this reality will not change to suit the convenience of politicians and educations administrators." - Frank Smith

"No race can prosper till it learns there is as much dignity in tilling a field as in writing a poem." - Booker T. Washington, fully Booker Taliaferro Washington

"No invention could ever take the hard work out of creating - out of good writing, painting, composing, inventing, etc. The economy of the spirit is incurably an economy of scarcity. An affluent society might be able to dispense with the ethic of work in its everyday life, but to attain any sort of excellence it will have to implant implacable taskmasters in the breasts of its people. Indeed, without the disciple of the creative effort the affluent society will be without stability. It might have to become a creative society in order to survive." - Eric Hoffer

"Reading maketh a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man; and, therefore, if a man write little, he had need have a great memory; if he confer little, he had need have a present wit; and if he read little, he had need have much cunning, to seem to know that he doth not." - Francis Bacon

"Writing, like life itself, is a voyage of discovery. The adventure is a metaphysical one: it is a way of approaching life indirectly, of acquiring a total rather than a partial view of the universe. The writer lives between the upper and lower worlds: he takes the path in order eventually to become the path himself." - Henry Miller, aka Henry Valentine Miller

"There is the happiness which comes from creative effort. The joy of dreaming, creating, building, whether in painting a picture, writing an epic, singing a song, composing a symphony, devising new invention, creating a vast industry." - Henry Miller, aka Henry Valentine Miller

"In the creative process, we are called to co-create with the thing that wants birthing. We must listen, open ourselves, summon courage, commit ourselves to the task, and begin. And this is the hardest part: in the face of nothing, we must begin. Not waiting for the sentence to be fully formed before writing the first word. Not waiting for the completed image to manifest in our minds before approaching the canvas." - Jan Phillips

"Where there is much desire to learn, there of necessity will be much arguing, much writing, many opinions; for opinion in good men is but knowledge in the making." - John Milton

"The voice is a human sound which nothing inanimate can perfectly imitate. It has an authority and an insinuating property which writing lacks. It is not merely so much air, but air modulated and impregnated with life." - Joseph Joubert

"Yes, there is a Nirvanah; it is leading your sheep to a green pasture, and in putting your child to sleep, and in writing the last line of your poem." - Kahlil Gibran

"Reduce your plan to writing. The moment you complete this, you will have definitely given concrete form to the intangible desire." - Napoleon Hill

"Solitude, the safeguard of mediocrity, is to genius the stern friend, the cold, obscure shelter where moult the wings which will bear it farther than suns and stars. He who would inspire and lead his race must be defended from traveling with the souls of other men, from living, breathing, reading, and writing in the daily time-worn yoke of their opinions." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"All things are engaged in writing their history... Every act of the man inscribes itself in the memories of its fellows, and in his own manners and face. The air is full of sounds, the sky of tokens, the ground is all memoranda and signatures, and every object covered over with hints which speak to the intelligent." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"One must be an inventor to read well... There is creative reading as well as creative writing. When the mind is braced by labor and invention, the page of whatever book we read becomes luminous with manifold allusion. Every sentence is doubly significant, and the sense of our author is as broad as the world." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Solitude, the safeguard of mediocrity, is to genius the stern friend, the cold, obscure shelter where molt the wings which bear it farther than suns and stars. He who would inspire and lead his race must be defended from traveling with the souls of their men, from living, breathing, reading, and writing in the daily, time worn yoke of their opinions." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"It has been said that writing comes more easily if you have something to say." - Sholem Asch, born Szalom Asz, also written Shalom Asch

"Nature… is a Volume written in celestial hieroglyphs, in a true Sacred-writing; of which even Prophets are happy that they can read here a line and there a line." - Thomas Carlyle

"If we want to know what happiness is we must seek it, not as if it were a part of gold at the end of the rainbow, but among human beings who are living richly and fully the good life. If you observe a really happy man you will find him building a boat, writing a symphony, educating his son, growing double Dahlias in his garden. He will not be searching for happiness as if it were a collar gold button that has rolled under the cupboard in his bed room. He will have become aware that he is happy in the course of living 24 crowded hours of the day. If you live only for yourself you are always an immediate danger of being bored to death with the repetition of your own views and interests. No one has learned the meaning of living until he has surrendered his ego to the service of his fellowmen. If your ambition has the momentum of an express train at full speed, if you can no longer stop your mad rush for glory, power, or intellectual supremacy, try to divert your energies into socially useful channels before it is too late. For those who seek the larger happiness and greater effectiveness open to human beings there can be but one philosophy of life, a philosophy of constructive altruism. The truly happy man is always a fighting optimist. Optimism includes not only altruism but also social responsibility, social courage and objectivity. The good life demands a working philosophy as an orientating map of conduct. This is the golden way of life. This is the satisfying life. This is the way to be happy though human. " - W. Béran Wolfe

"If you observe a really happy man, you will find him building a boat, writing a symphony, educating his son, growing double dahlias or looking for dinosaur eggs in the Gobi Desert. He will not be searching for happiness as if it were a collar button that rolled under the radiator, striving for it as a goal in itself. He will have become aware that he is happy in the course of living life twenty-four crowded hours of each day." - W. Béran Wolfe

"Literary works cannot be taken over like factories, or literary forms of expression like industrial methods. Realist writing, of which history offers many widely varying examples, is likewise conditioned by the question of how, when and for what class it is made use of." - Bertolt Brecht

"No race can prosper till it learns that there is as much dignity in tilling a field as in writing a poem." - Booker T. Washington, fully Booker Taliaferro Washington

"I do believe it is possible to create, even without ever writing a word or painting a picture, by simply molding one's inner life. And that too is a deed." - Etty Hillesum, formally Ester "Etty" Hillesum

"And how is clarity to be achieved? Mainly by taking trouble and by writing to serve people rather than to impress them. " - F. L. Lucas, fully Frank Laurence "F. L." Lucas

"It takes a great deal of effort to make truth in writing so that the truth as one dreams it may have the best chance of being - not approached, not glimpsed - but better dreamed." - Hélène Cixous

"It is by teaching that we teach ourselves, by relating that we observe, by affirming that we examine, by showing that we look, by writing that we think. " - Henri Frédéric Amiel

"Nothing so sharpens the thought process as writing down one's arguments. Weaknesses overlooked in oral discussion become painfully obvious on the written page." - Hyman George Rickover