Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand. ~George Orwell, "Why I Write," 1947
One must be drenched in words, literally soaked in them, to have the right ones form themselves into the proper pattern at the right moment.
Let me walk through the fields of papertouching with my wanddry stems and stunted butterflies....
~Denise Levertov, "A Walk through the Notebooks"
When you are describing,A shape, or sound, or tint;
Don't state the matter plainly,
But put it in a hint;
And learn to look at all things,
With a sort of mental squint.
~Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (Lewis Carroll)
I'd rather be caught holding up a bank than stealing so much as a two-word phrase from another writer.
There are men that will make you books, and turn them loose into the world, with as much dispatch as they would do a dish of fritters.
~Miguel de Cervantes
How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.
~Henry David Thoreau, Journal, 19 August 1851
Sit down, and put down everything that comes into your head and then you're a writer. But an author is one who can judge his own stuff's worth, without pity, and destroy most of it.
~Colette, Casual Chance, 1964
The good writing of any age has always been the product of someone's neurosis, and we'd have a mighty dull literature if all the writers that came along were a bunch of happy chuckleheads.
~William Styron, interview, Writers at Work, 1958