Where Words Defy the World
With a Little Help From Old Friends...
You write in order to change the world ...
if you alter, even by a millimeter, the way people look at reality, then you can change it.
There's nothing to writing. All you do is
sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.
Read, read, read. Read everything - trash,
classics, good and bad, and see how they do it.
Just like a carpenter who works as
an apprentice and studies the master.
Read! You'll absorb it.
Then write. If it's good, you'll find out.
If it's not, throw it out of the window.
You can't wait for inspiration.
You have to go after it with a club.
If you can tell stories, create characters,
devise incidents, and have sincerity
and passion, it doesn't matter a damn
how you write.
-W. Somerset Maugham
Get it down. Take chances. It may be bad,
but it's the only way you can do anything good.
I don't wait for moods. You accomplish nothing
if you do that. Your mind must know
it has got to get down to work.
-Pearl S. Buck
Write while the heat is in you. …
The writer who postpones the recording
of his thoughts uses an iron which has
cooled to burn a hole with.
-Henry David Thoreau
What difference does it make if you live in a picturesque little outhouse surrounded by
300 feeble minded goats and your faithful dog? The question is: Can you write?
Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them - in order that the reader
may see what they are made of.
You learn to write by writing, and by reading and thinking about how writers have created their characters and invented their stories.
If you are not a reader, don't even
think about being a writer. -Jean M. Auel
The first draft of anything is shit. -Ernest Hemingway
Don't tell me the moon is shining;
show me the glint of light on broken glass.
All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.
Learn the rules like a pro,
so you can break them like an artist.
I believe more in the scissors
than I do in the pencil.
Somebody gets into trouble, then gets out
of it again. People love that story.
They never get tired of it.
In displaying the psychology of your characters, minute particulars are essential. God save us from vague generalizations!
A writer doesn’t solve problems.
He allows them to emerge.
You know you’re writing well when you’re throwing good stuff into the wastebasket. -Ernest Hemingway
You write your books. You scatter your seeds.
Rats might eat them, or they might rot.
In California, some seeds lie dormant
for decades because they only
germinate after fire, and sometimes
the burned landscape blooms most lavishly.
To write simply is as difficult as to be good.
-W. Somerset Maugham
Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple
and learn how to handle them,
and pretty soon you have a dozen.
When I write, I feel like an armless,
legless man with a crayon in his mouth.
Literature is strewn with the wreckage
of those who have minded beyond reason
the opinion of others.
When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people not characters.
A character is a caricature.
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.
Everywhere I go I'm asked if I think the university stifles writers. My opinion is
that they don't stifle enough of them.
There's many a best-seller that could have been prevented by a good teacher.
It is the storyteller's task to elicit sympathy
and a measure of understanding
for those who lie outside the boundaries
of State approval.
In every bit of honest writing in the world,
there is a base theme. Try to understand men,
if you understand each other
you will be kind to each other.
Knowing a man well never leads to hate
and nearly always leads to love.
It's harder to write in the third person but
the advantage is you move around better.
The secret of being a bore is to tell everything.
Reading and writing are in themselves
subversive acts. What they subvert is the notion that things have to be the way they are,
that you are alone, that no one
has ever felt the way you have. -Kurt Vonnegut
“What is your advice to young writers?"
"Drink, fuck and smoke plenty of cigarettes."
"What is your advice to older writers?"
"If you're still alive, you don't need any advice."
"What is the impulse that makes you create a poem?"
"What makes you take a shit?” -Charles Bukowski
I will take any liberty I want with facts
as long as I don't trespass on the truth...
We confuse facts with truth.
You can't blame a writer
for what the characters say.
I would advise anyone who aspires
to a writing career
that before developing his talent
he would be wise to develop a thick hide. -Harper Lee
Be sure not to discuss your hero's state
of mind. Make it clear from his actions.
If the word doesn't exist, invent it;
but first be sure it doesn't exist.
- Charles Baudelaire
Invention, it must be humbly admitted,
does not consist in creating out of void
but out of chaos.
Any writer worth his salt writes to please himself. It's a self-exploratory operation that is endless.
An exorcism of not necessarily his demon,
but of his divine discontent.
When people read his books they have an uncontrollable desire to hang
the author in the town square.
I can’t think of a higher honor for a writer. -Roberto Bolaño
A short story must have a single mood
and every sentence must build towards it.
-Edgar Allan Poe
Anybody can have ideas--the difficulty is
to express them without squandering a
quire of paper on an idea that ought to be reduced to one glittering paragraph.
- Mark Twain
That is the mystery about writing:
it comes out of afflictions, out of the gouged times, when the heart is cut open.