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English Comp 1 Writing Quotes

Writing Quotes


Write in the kitchen, lock yourself up in the bathroom. Write on the bus or the welfare line, on the job or during meals. Gloria Anzaldua

Writing and rewriting are a constant search for what it is one is saying. John Updike

I have rewritten—often several times—every word I have ever published. My pencils outlast their erasers. Vladimir Nabokov

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. William Faulkner

For excellence, the presence of others is always required. Hanna Arendt

I am fascinated by language in daily life: the way it can evoke an emotion, a visual image, a complex idea, or a simple truth. Amy Tan

Writing is a political instrument. James Baldwin

Writing is the act of saying "I," of imposing oneself upon other people, of saying "listen to me, see it my way, change your mind." Joan Didion

A writer is someone who has found a process that will bring about new things. William Stafford

I think best with a pencil in my hand. Anne Morrow Lindbergh

I am never as clear about any matter as when I have finished writing about it. James Van Allen

Writing keeps me from believing everything I read. Gloria Steinem

Don’t tear up the page and start over again when you write a bad line—try to write your way out of it. Make mistakes and plunge on. Writing is a means of discovery, always. Garrison Keillor

Nobody reads a mystery to get to the middle; they read it to get to the end. If it’s a letdown, they won’t buy any more. The first page sells that book. The last page sells your next book. Mickey Spillane

I know very dimly when I start what’s going to happen. I just have a very general idea, and then the thing develops as I write. Aldous Huxley

Writing, when properly managed (as you may be sure I think mine is) is but a different name for conversation. Lawrence Sterne

I write the big scenes first, that is, the scenes that carry the meaning of the book, the emotional experience. Joyce Cary

Wearing down seven number two pencils is a good day’s work. Ernest Hemingway

Writing is so hard…. The first draft writing is so hard that sometimes in the beginning, before the work itself takes over, carrying you on its flood, you must give yourself rewards. "When I write this chapter, I can call my boyfriend." "When I finish one page more, I can get an ice cream cone." "If I write this section, I’ll find a check in the mail." Sophy Burnham

There are a thousand thoughts lying within a man that he does not know till he takes up the pen to write. William Thackeray

I never quite know when I’m not writing. Sometimes my wife comes up to me at a party and says, "Dammit, Thurber, stop writing." She usually catches me in the middle of a paragraph. James Thurber

I am a completely horizontal author. I can’t think unless I’m lying down, either in bed or stretched on a couch. Truman Capote

The first Chapter Law is, "Don’t spend much time on it. You’re going to have to rewrite it." Tony Hillerman

What I know about grammar is its infinite power. To shift the structure of a sentence alters the meaning of that sentence, as definitely and inflexibly as the position of a camera alters the meaning of the object photographed. Many people know about camera angles now, but not so many know about sentences. Joan Didion

Not to have an audience is a kind of death. Tillie Olsen

Writing simply means no dependent clauses, no dangling things, no flashbacks, and keeping the subject near the predicate. We throw in as many fresh words as we can get away with. Simple, short sentences don’t always work. You have to do tricks with pacing, alternate long sentences with short, to keep it vital and alive. Virtually every page is a cliffhanger—you’ve got to force them to turn it. Theodore Geisel (Dr. Seuss)

Whatever the thing you wish to say, there is but one word to express it, but one verb to give it movement, but one adjective to qualify it; you must seek until you find this noun, this verb, this adjective. Gustave Flaubert

Even if I could not earn a penny from my writing, I would earn my livelihood at something else and continue to write at night. Irving Wallace

I advise writing to oneself. If you don’t want to read it, nobody else is going to read it. S.E. Hinton

If you would be a reader, read; if a writer, write. Epictetus

Books had instant replay long before televised sports. Bern Williams

Ever tried? Ever failed? No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better. Samuel Beckett

I aim to be content with what I produce. It’s an aim I never achieve, but I go over my work word by word, time and again, so as to be as little dissatisfied as possible. Graham Greene

Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught. Oscar Wilde

I always write the end of everything first. I always write the last chapters of my books before I write the beginning….Then I go back to the beginning. I mean, it’s always nice to know where you’re going is my theory. Truman Capote

A good title should be like a good metaphor: it should intrigue without being too baffling or too obvious. Walker Percy

You can write about anything, and it you write well enough, even the reader with no intrinsic interest in the subject will become involved. Tracy Kidder

I do a lot of revising. Certain chapters six or seven times. Occasionally you can hit it right the first time. More often, you don’t. John Dos Passos

It is by sitting down to write every morning that one becomes a writer. Those who do not do this remain amateurs. Gerald Brenan

Writing is thinking on paper. Anyone who thinks clearly should be able to write clearly—about any subject at all. William Zinsser.

He that will write well in any tongue must follow this counsel of Aristotle: to speak as the common people do, to think as wise men do. Roger Ascham

There are no dull subjects. There are only dull writers. H.L. Mencken

A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper. E.B. White

It’s as hard to get from almost finished to finished as to get from beginning to almost done. Elinor Fuchs

The desire to write grows with writing. Erasmus

Sometimes writer’s block is no more than a signal that you have not done enough research. Sophy Burnham

The wastepaper basket is the writer’s best friend. Isaac B. Singer

I have tried simply to write the best I can; sometimes I have good luck and write better than I can. Ernest Hemingway

No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader. Robert Frost

It has been said that writing comes more easily if you have something to say. Sholem Asch

I have the words already. What I am seeking is the perfect order of words in the sentence. You can see for yourself how many different ways they might be arranged. James Joyce

How can you sit down to write until you have stood up to live? Henry David Thoreau

Most writing is done away from the typewriter, away from the desk. I’d say it occurs in the quiet, silent moments. Henry Miller

The writing process is sort of like when you’ve got no electricity and you’ve gotten up in the middle of the night to find the bathroom, feeling your way along in the dark. I can’t hardly tell you what I do because I really don’t know. Carolyn Chute

I have long since decided if you wait for the perfect time to write, you’ll never write. There is no time that isn’t flawed somehow. Margaret Atwood

A great writer created a world of his own and his readers are proud to live in it. A lesser writer may entice them in for a moment, but soon he will watch them filing out. Cyril Connolly

I don’t care to talk about a novel I’m doing because if I communicate the magic spell, even in an abbreviated form, it loses its force for me. Once you have talked, the act of communication has been made. Agnes Wilson

We do not write in order to be understood; we write in order to understand. C. Day-Lewis

Good writing is full of surprises and novelties, moving in a direction you don’t expect. Iris Murdoch

I don’t think that writer’s block exists really. I think that when you’re trying to do something prematurely, it just won’t come. Certain subjects just need time, as I’ve learned over and over again. You’ve got to wait before you write about them. Joyce Carol Oates

Writer’s block is a natural affliction. Writers who have never experienced it have something wrong with them. It means there isn’t enough friction—that they aren’t making enough of an effort to reconcile the contradictions of life. All you get is sweet monotonous flow. Writer’s block is nothing to commit suicide over. It simply indicates some imbalance between your experience and your art, and I think that’s constructive. Stanley Kunitz

In a very real sense, people who have read good literature have lived more than people who cannot or will not read…It is not true that we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many more lives as many kinds of lives as we wish. S.I. Hayakawa

Writing is an odd thing to do. You turn your back on the real world and favor an invisible world you invent. You have to search deep in your inner life. I hear things in a kinesthetic way. I tap into a rhythm of language to portray what I feel. Mary Gordon

My writing is a process of rewriting, of going back and changing and filling in. in the rewriting process you discover what’s going on, and you go back and bring it up to that point. Joan Didion

A lot of young writers wait for inspiration. The inspiration only hits you at the desk. Robert Anderson

When you first start writing—and I think it’s true for a lot of beginning writers—you’re scared to death that if you don’t get that sentence right that minute it’s never going to show up again. And it isn’t. But it doesn’t matter—another one will, and it’ll probably be better. And I don’t mind writing badly for a couple of days because I know I can fix it—and fix it again and again and again, and it will be better. Toni Morrison

I put a piece of paper under my pillow, and when I could not sleep I wrote in the dark. Henry David Thoreau

Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. This requires not that the writer makes all his sentences short, or that he avoid all detail and treat his subjects only in outline, but that every word tell. William Strunk

My task—which I am trying to achieve—is by the power of the written word to make you hear, to make you feel. It is, before all, to make you see. Joseph Conrad

When I sit at my table to write, I never know what it’s going to be till I’m under way. I trust in inspiration, which sometimes doesn’t. But I don’t sit back waiting for it. I work every day. Alberto Moravia

I write the first draft quickly. This is most often done in longhand. I simply fill up the pages as rapidly as I can. In some cases, there’s a kind of personal shorthand, notes to myself for what I will do later when I come back to it. Raymond Carter

Whatever machine you use, however sophisticated your technology , it’s ideas that count. In the beginning was the idea. No machine will give you the ability to spot an opening, take a new idea, and see it through to profitable fruition. Tom Crabtree

I am profoundly uncertain how to write. I know what I love and what I like, because it’s a direct passionate response. But when I write, I’m very uncertain whether it’s good enough. That is, of course, the writer’s agony. Susan Sontag

The greatest part of a writer’s time is spent in reading, in order to write; a man will turn over half a library to make one book. Samuel Johnson

There is no way to write unless you read, and read a lot. Walter J. Ong

Your audience is one single reader. I have found that sometimes it helps to pick out one person—a real person you know, or an imagined person and write to that one. John Steinbeck

Beginning to write, you discover what you have to write about. Kit Reed

For me, writing is the only thing that passes the three tests of metier: (1) when I’m doing it, I don’t feel that I should be doing something else instead: (2) it produces a sense of accomplishment and, nce in a while, pride; and (3) it’s frightening. Gloria Steinem

The longer I write, the more important I believe it is to write the first draft as fast as possible. In drafting, I push myself so I am at the edge of discomfort…Later, it will be time for consideration and reconsideration, slow, careful revision and editing. But on the first draft I have to achieve velocity, just as you do if you want the bike to balance. Donald M. Murray

Language exists only when it is listened to as well as spoken. The hearer is an indispensable partner. John Dewey

Though old the thought and oft exprest, Tis his at last who says it best. James Russell Lowell

Adam was the only man who, when he said a good thing, knew that nobody had said it before him. Mark Twain

Plagiarists are always suspicious of being stolen from. Samuel Taylor Coleridge

All I needed was a steady table and a typewriter…a marble-topped bedroom washstand table made a good place; the dining-room table between meals was also suitable. Agatha Christie

It’s not a bad idea to get in the habit of writing down one’s thoughts. It saves one having to bother anyone else with them. Isabel Colegate

Why can’t somebody give us a list of things that everybody thinks and nobody says, and another list of things that everybody says and nobody thinks. Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes

Originally consists in thinking for yourself, and not in thinking unlike other people. J. Fitzjames Stephen

Stay at home in your mind. Don’t recite other people’s opinions. I hate quotations. Tell me what you know. Ralph Waldo Emerson

I quote others only the better to express myself. Montaigne

The purpose of the research paper is not coverage of material, but critical assessment. Stated another way, your research should help you create an effective judgement of recent thought on a problem. It involves a lengthy process and assumes the evolution of thought. You are educating yourself, coming to see what you think, presenting yourself as a fellow investigator of a particular research problem, and learning the various steps in performing research. You are not merely summarizing what others have concluded or showing your instructor that you have covered the course material. Diane B. Durkin

The wisdom of the wise and the experience of the ages are perpetuated by quotations. Benjamin Disraeli

I often quote myself. It adds spice to my conversation. George Bernard Shaw

You could compile the worst book in the world entirely out of selected passages from the best writer in the world. G. K. Chesterton

I’ve never discussed my writing with others much, but I don’t believe it can do any harm. I don’t think that there’s any risk that ideas or materials will evaporate. Aldous Huxley

Nothing is said that has not been said before. Terence

Be sure you go to the author to get at his meaning, not to find yours. John Ruskin

Usually I try to be there by six. Everything has been taken off the walls so that there’s nothing to arrest my sight. On the bed I have Roget’s Thesaurus, a dictionary, a Bible, and a deck of playing cards. Toni Morrison

Some readers think my writing is a capital offense. Others think it is capital fun I hope it converts into capital. Diana Davis

Punctuation is the art of dividing a written composition into sentences, or parts of sentences, by points or stops, for the purpose of marking the different pauses which the sense, and an accurate pronunciation require. Lindley Murray

I blame myself for not often enough seeing the extraordinary in the ordinary. Somewhere in his journals, Dostoyevky remarks that a writer can begin anywhere, at the most commonplace thing, scratch around in it long enough, pry and dig away long enough, and lo!, soon he will hit upon the marvelous. Saul Bellow

In the camp, this meant committing my verse—many thousands of lines—to memory. To help me with this I improvised decimal counting beads and, in transit prisons, broke up matchsticks and used the fragments as tallies. As I approached the end of my sentences I grew more confident of my powers of memory, and began writing down and memorizing prose—dialogue at first, but then, bit by bit, whole densely written passages. My memory found room for them! It worked. But more and more of my time—in the end as much as one week every month—went into the regular repetition of all I had memorized. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Speech is highly elliptical. It would scarcely be endurable otherwise. Ellipsis is indispensable to the writer or speaker who wants to be brief and pithy, but it can easily cause confusion and obscurity and must be used with skill. Cornelia and Bergen Evans

Surely the unnecessary profusion of straight lines, particularly on a printed page, is offensive to good taste, is an index of the dasher’s profound ignorance of the art of punctuation, and, so far from helping to bring out the sense of an author, is better adapted for turning into nonsense some of his finest passages. John Wilson

The author must keep his mouth shut when his work starts to speak. Friedrich Nietzsche

Writing is my vacation from living. Eugene O’Neal

Though parentheses seem to say "here it is if you wish it; it’s only an aside," such an aside may be intended for special notice—like many a remark that begins with the disarming by the way or incidentally. George Summey

This morning I deleted the hyphen from "hell-bound" and made it one word; this afternoon I redivided it and restored the hyphen. Edwin Arlington Robinson

The dash has been described as the interruption, the mark of abruptness, the sob, the stammer, and the mark of ignorance. The last name—which might be equally well applied to the comma as crude writers use it—records the fact that the uniformed mistake the dash for an all-purpose mark for every possible occasion. George Summey

Writers kid themselves—about themselves and other people. Take the talk about writing methods. Writing is just work—there’s no secret. If you dictate or use a pen or type with your toes—it is just work. Sinclair Lewis

It (the dash ) is a comfortable punctuation mark since even the most rigorous critic can seldom claim that any particular example of it is a misuse. Its overuse is its greatest danger, and the writer who can’t resist dashes may be suspected of uncoordinated thinking. Cornelia and Bergen Evans

A dash derives from "to dash," to shatter, strike violently, to throw suddenly or violently, hence to throw carelessly in or on, hence to write carelessly or suddenly, to add or insert suddenly or carelessly to or in the page. "To dash" comes from Middle English daschen, itself probably from Scandinavian—compare Danish daske, to beat, to strike. Ultimately the word is—rather obviously—echoic. Eric Partridge

If we had to say what writing is, we would have to define it essentially as an act of courage. Cynthia Ozick

How to read writers on writing: With respect, amusement, and skepticism. They will contradict one another—as they should—for each writer brings an individual history to the writing task. There is no single theology here. Donald M. Murray

Manuscript: Something submitted in haste and returned at leisure. Oliver Herford

When punctuation was first employed, it was in the role of the handmaid of prose; later the handmaid was transformed by the pedants into a harsh-faced chaperone, pervertedly ingenious in the contriving of stiff regulations and starched rules of decorum; now, happily she is content to act as an auxiliary to the writer and as a guide to the reader. Harold Herd

Like italics and hyphens, quotation marks are to be used as sparingly as possible. They should light the way, not darken it. Eric Partridge

Punctuation marks are one means of helping us get our exact meaning on the page. They do more than mark such obvious facts of language as "This is a question." They help us separate words (and thoughts) and so present them distinctly to a reader; they help group and keep together related ideas; they set off certain words for emphasis. Their use affects the tempo of writing. Porter Perrin

Mechanics are a necessary part of the writing process. Without them the most profound statements would be misunderstood, but with them, sentences take on clarity. Mechanics tell us when new sentences begin, when they end, and when we should pause in our reading. Mechanics signal us when different ideas will be presented. They indicate when the words of another have been used and when people and places have been named. In short, they make an essay a finished product ready to be displayed in public. Andrew Hirt

Have some sort of a private place to work in. Put up a sign to keep from being interrupted. Mine says: "Please, do not knock, do not say hello or goodbye, do not ask what’s for dinner, do not disturb me unless the police or firemen have to be called." Judith Krantz

It’s my experience that very few writers, young or old, are really seeking advice when they give out their work to be read. They want support; they want someone to say, "Good job." John Irving

I read about writers who have routines. They write at certain times of the day. I can’t do that. I am always writing—but in my head. Jamaica Kincaid

The colon is usually a mark of addition or expectation, with emphasis on a following explanations, list, table, or quotation. With formal words (as follows or the like) it raps for attention; with easy wording it is little more formal than the somewhat lighter semicolon. It is not a series or balancing point like the semicolon; it seems to say "Watch Carefully what comes next." George Summey

For what is Punctuation, and what its aim? It is the art of dividing a literary composition into sentences, and parts of sentences, by means of points, for the purpose of exhibiting the various combinations, connections, and dependencies of words. And what is this process but a means of facilitating that analysis and combination which must be made, consciously or unconsciously, before we can penetrate to the very core of an author’s thoughts, and appropriate them as food for the life and growth of our own minds? John Wilson

Remember that colons—perhaps the mark we exploit least—generally mean that what is to come will explain what has just gone by. They imply identity, whereas semicolons imply "separate but equal" status. "I have just learned three facts: that St. Paul is the capital of Minnesota; that Helena is the capital of Montana; and that Lincoln is the capital of Nebraska." Everything after the colon adds up to "three facts"—whereas the three statements of fact, though they have much in common, are not identical (there are three, not one). Colons can also save words and create special effects. Compare: I admire her poetry. Its imagery is magnificent. I admire her poetry for its magnificent imagery. I admire her poetry: its imagery is magnificent.

All three versions are "correct." The first is emphatic and probably clear—or clear enough: Probably your reader will realize that the second sentence explains the first. The second version is clearer, and it flows along smoothly. The third is clearer than the first and just as clear as the second, and it gives us a unique kind of silence—not just a break (the period did that) but mild suspense. Your job is to decide which way of punctuating best expresses what you want to express. Robert M. Pierson

When we are very young, we tend to regard the ability to use a colon much as a budding pianist regards the ability to play with crossed hands: many of us, when we are older, regard it as a proof of literary skill, maturity, even of sophistication; and many; whether young, not so young, or old, employ it gauchely, haphazardly, or at best inconsistently. Eric Partridge

An unnecessary mark is worse than useless. It is an interruption. George Summey

From the reader’s point of view, punctuation provides a map for one who must otherwise drive blindly past the by-ways, intersections, and detours of a writer’s thought. Mina Shaughnessy

Punctuation contributes to an art as well as to correction, to style as well as to styling. Make it work for you, not just to develop prose that is "clear enough"—not just to prevent confusion—but to help you express yourself, or your characters express themselves. Don’t lean on it; don’t shy away from it; just convey nuances too subtle for words alone to convey; let it help you evoke effects so delicate that talk would shatter them. And remember that if you frequently use more marks than usual—or fewer than usual—you will call attention to your craft, with the results possibly seeming artful rather than artistic, posturing rather than expressive. Nor do I for a moment suggest that punctuation can, or should, be charged with sole responsibility for effectiveness; descriptive, diction, sentence length, sentence rhythm, paragraph structure, timing—these and other elements of style can and must share the load. Robert M. Pierson

I think of myself as a stylist, and stylists can become notoriously obsessed with the placing of a comma, the weight of a semicolon. Truman Capote

It is almost always a greater pleasure to come across a semicolon than a period. The period tells you that that is that; if you didn’t get all the meaning you wanted or expected, anyway you got all the writer intended to parcel out and now you have to move along. But with a semicolon there, you get a pleasant little feeling of expectancy; there is more to come; read on; it will get clearer. Lewis Thomas

The commas are the most useful and usable of all the stops. It is highly important to put them in place as you go along. If you try to come back after doing a paragraph and stick them in the various spots that tempt you you will discover that they tend to swarm like minnows into sorts of crevices whose existence you hadn’t realized and before you know it the whole long sentence becomes immobilized and lashed up squirming in commas. Better to use them sparingly, and with affection, precisely when the need for each one arises, nicely, by itself. Lewis Thomas

When I stepped from hard manual work to writing, I just stepped from one kind of hard work to another. Sean O’Casey

The most important sentence in a good book is the first one; it will contain the organic seed from which all that follows will grow. Paul Horgan

A novel is a piece of architecture. It’s not random wallowings or confessional diaries. It’s a building—it has to have walls and floors and the bathrooms have to work. John Irving

I think I did pretty well, considering I started out with nothing but a bunch of blank paper. Steve Martin

I have performed the necessary butchery. Here is the bleeding corpse. Henry James