Thursday, August 12, 2010

Street Smarts for the Writer: (PART ONE)

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. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book, give it, give it all, give it now.—Annie Dillard

No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. –Robert Frost

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.—Don Marquis

Always assume your reader is at least as smart as you.—Sue Grafton

I have found that a story leaves a deeper impression when it is impossible to tell which side the author is on.—Leo Tolstoy

The shorter and the plainer the better.—Beatrix Potter

You have to throw yourself away when you write.—Maxwell Perkins

There isn’t any secret. You sit down and you start and that’s it.—Elmore Leonard.

Write in a café can work to improve your concentration. The café atmosphere keeps the sensory part of your mind busy so the deeper quieter part of you that creates and concentrates is free to do so—like occupying a baby with tricks while slipping a spoon of apple sauce in its mouth. Mozart had his wife read stories to him while he was composing for the same reason.—Natalie Goldberg

I never begin a work without being terrified I won’t finish it.—Danielle Steel

When I wrote the last line, I remember that I cried; “well, I’ll never beat that,” and threw the inky pen at the opposite wall.— Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (on The White Company)

Caress the detail, the divine detail. –Vladimir Nabokov

When you endeavor to be funny in every line you place an intolerable burden not only on yourself but on the reader. You have to allow the reader to breathe.—S.J. Perelman

You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write.—Saul Bellow

The best thing you can do about critics is never say a word. In the end you have the last say, and they know it.—Tennessee Williams

Writing is an act of ego and you might as well admit it. Use its energy to keep yourself going—William Zinsser

You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.—Jack London

It would be crazy to begin revising immediately after finishing the first draft, and counter to the way the mind likes to create. You’re exhausted. You deserve a vacation. Go away from the project for at least a week.—Kenneth Atchity

I am convinced as a member of the reading public that bad [author] photographs are bad business. I have been put off reading books, which otherwise looked rather attractive, by the puss of the author printed on the back of the dust cover.—Raymond Chandler

I see the notion of talent as quite irrelevant. I see instead perseverance, application, industry, assiduity, will, will, will, desire, desire, desire. –Gordon Lish

The methods, even the ideas, of successful writers contradict each other in a most heartening way, and the only element I find common to all successful writers is persistence—an overwhelming determination to succeed.—Sophy Burnham

Do not pay any attention to the rules other people make…They make them for their won protection, ….—William Saroyan

You must once and for all give up being worried about successes and failures. Don’t let that concern you. It’s your duty to go on working steadily day by day, quite steadily, to be prepared for mistakes, which are inevitable, and for failures.—Anton Chekhov

Maybe you have some favorite advice that has been meaningful to you. Please--share it with us.


  1. Great list of quotes, Kenny! I like the cafe one because my favorite writing spot of late is the coffee shop. Good to know it's the ideal spot for my creative juices to simmer.

  2. I have a file on my computer and just added all these fabulous quotes, Kenny. Thank you!

    Here's one I picked up recently:
    "We are called to write, and I feel we will be held responsible at the Judgment for the people who are hurting that we could have helped but didn't, because we didn't write what God laid on our hearts to write." Harold Ivan Smith

  3. Wow! That sure puts it in perspective. It's inspiring to have someone else validate what you already believe.
    thanks for sharing.