20+ Encouraging Writing Quotes from (Mostly) Famous Authors

As someone working on a book, you’ve got a lot of work ahead of you. There’s much to plot out, decisions of tone to be made, editing to be done, and then publishing and marketing. You have many a word to get up on the screen. I expect you could use some encouragement to keep working at it. 

We’ve got some encouraging quotes from those who have gone before you, those who have actually gotten the book done and then perhaps become famous because of said book. We will provide some background of the authors to not only point out their mastery but also to provide you with some great book recommendations! 

Writers Need to Read 

As a writer, you need to know your specific genre and your craft. If you’ve never read a cozy mystery, how do you expect to write a compelling killer or all the twists and turns that a cozy requires? If you’ve never read a book on how to get the most out of hot yoga, how will you write a book on the subject? You need to know your field and how your book will be different than others out there. Reading will also help expand your vocabulary – and your mind! 

“Just write every day of your life. Read intensely. Then see what happens. Most of my friends who are put on that diet have very pleasant careers.” – Ray Bradbury

Bradbury is most well known for his iconic book, Fahrenheit 451, that has been made into a movie and graphic novels. He wrote more than 30 books, 600 short stories, not to mention his many poems and screenplays. This man wrote a lot! 

“One must be an inventor to read well. There is then creative reading as well as creative writing.”  – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Most of us learned about Ralph Waldo Emerson and his student and colleague Henry David Thoreau in high school. Alive in the 19th century, they were the fathers of  Transcendentalism. Emerson was a well-read, well-respected lecturer and published author of many essays.

“If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the time or the tools to write.” – Stephen King

Stephen King is one of the most famous fantasy and supernatural modern novelists in this day. He’s written over 60 books, many of which have become films, miniseries, or television series. He’s most well known for It, The Shining, The Stand, and his first novel Carrie

Just Write!

While you can’t write without reading, you really can’t write a book without actually writing it! Like Chandler says, your book doesn’t have to be perfect but it does need to be written! Here are some amazing authors encouraging us to just get to it and write! 

“You might not write well every day, but you can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.” – Jodi Picoult

Jodi Picoult has written 25 novels including My Sister’s Keeper, Small Great Things and is a New York Times Best Selling author. This is also one of the most widely used encouraging writing quotes and we love it!

“If you wait for inspiration to write, you’re not a writer, you’re a waiter.” – Dan Poynter

Perhaps the father of self-publishing, Dan Poynter has written more than 130 books, 800 articles and was also, interestingly, a parachute designer. 

 “A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.” – Richard Bach

Well known for his strong mustache, Bach was the author of some of the best sellers in the 70s including Jonathan Livingston Seagull and Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah.

“The final sentence can’t be written until the first sentence is written.” – Joyce Carol Oates

Having written nearly 60 books, plus short stories, plays and more this lady knows her stuff. Oates is a pillar in the literary fiction world. 

“We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.”- Ernest Hemingway

Nobel Prize winner, sportsman and author of 24 books, we know Hemmingway as a master most for his The Old Man and the Sea, The Sun Also Rises and For Whom the Bell Tolls. And if Hemmingway didn’t consider himself a master, who can?

“It doesn’t matter how many book ideas you have if you can’t finish writing your book.” – Joe Bunting

Joe Bunting is a modern author who has made it his job to help others write their best.

Finding Ideas

The right ideas need to be conveyed in your book. Either fiction or non-fiction, your thoughts need to be laid out well so your readers know what you mean and take away the message you want them to understand.

“The task of a writer consists of being able to make something out of an idea.” – Thomas Mann

Most well known for his 1912 book, Death in Venice, Mann was an anti-nazi German who married a Jewish woman. 

“Ideas are cheap. It’s the execution that is all important.” — George R.R. Martin

Martin’s epic Fire & Ice books have taken the world by storm in the HBO television series Game of Thrones. 

“Writing—the art of communicating thoughts to the mind, through the eye—is the great invention of the world.” – Abraham Lincoln

Honest Abe was the United States of American’s 16th President who was a great orator and is most well known for abolishing slavering.

Finding the Right Words 

Once you’ve figured out what to write and how to convey it, you’ll need to do some polishing. Finding the right words to show off what you mean is everything. We encourage you to hire a professional editor who understands your genre.

“The difference between the almost right word and the right word is the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.” – Mark Twain

Twain was the pen name for Samuel Langhorne Clemens, who wrote Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn which we’re pretty sure you’ve heard of before. Clemens was famous in his time and met presidents, successful businessmen, and royalty because of his work. 

“Style means the right word. The rest matters little.” – Jules Renard

Renard was a French author, mayor, and playwright from the 1800s who used humor to tell hard stories. 

 “Let me live, love, and say it well in good sentences.” — Sylvia Plath

Plath is a famous poet who we now understand struggled with depression and ultimately took her own life. She is most well known for her Pulitzer Prize winning poems but she also wrote short stories and novels. 

“Writers fish for the right words like fishermen fish for, um, whatever those aquatic creatures with fins and gills are called.” – Jarod Kintz

Kintz is a self-published author with three books under his belt. Maybe not super famous but we still love this quote!

Your Book Can Change the World! 

Now you need some encouragement to keep going. Writing the book is half the battle! You need to keep going with publishing, marketing, and selling! The idea that YOUR BOOK can make a huge difference in the world may help you keep going when you’re feeling like throwing in the towel.

“After nourishment, shelter, and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.” – Philip Pullman

Pullman was knighted for his writing. He is the author of the best selling His Dark Materials fantasy trilogy as well as many more books. 

“If you want to change the world, pick up your pen and write.” – Martin Luther

This is the guy from the 1500s who helped start the Reformation by allegedly nailing his Ninety-five Theses to the front door of a fancy German church. He wrote many famous letters, pamphlets, sermons, as well as books. He knows about changing the world!

“Write what should not be forgotten.” – Isabel Allende

Allende has been called “the world’s most widely read Spanish-language author.” She’s authored 20 novels as well as many non-fiction pieces that focus on women’s rights.

“We’re past the age of heroes and hero kings. … Most of our lives are basically mundane and dull, and it’s up to the writer to find ways to make them interesting.”  – John Updike

Updike wrote art and literary critiques for the New Yorker and authored more than 20 books as well as short stories and poems. He is one of only three authors to win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction more than once. 

“No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world.” – Robin Williams

While not really a published author, Robin Williams was a famous actor and an amazing storyteller. 

“Words can be like X-rays if you use them properly — they’ll go through anything. You read and you’re pierced.” – Aldous Huxley

Huxley is most well known for his 1931 book Brave New World in which Big Brother is always watching. He wrote nearly 50 other books as well as essays and poems.

“For me, literacy means freedom. For the individual and for society.” – LeVar Burton

Okay, LeVar hasn’t written a ton of books but he’s READ a ton of books TO us and we all love Reading Rainbow! He still counts as a book authority.

On Failure and Rejection 

Not everyone will love your book. You will get a few one-star reviews and feel some hurt and rejection as an author. Take it as a badge of honor as these great authors have felt the same way.

“I was learning the craft; I didn’t study writing in school. Rejection was my motivation, and failure is what taught me.” – Pierce Brown

Brown’s space opera Red Rising series have each been on the New York Time’s Best Seller List. 

“Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement.” – C. S. Lewis

Best known for his still popular The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe series, Lewis wrote about 30 books and was a contemporary of J. R. R. Tolkien (bonus book recommendation!) who wrote the iconic Lord of the Rings series. 

“Every rejection is incremental payment on your dues that in some way will be translated back into your work.”- James Lee Burke

Burke is a prolific novel mystery author whose stories have been adapted into film.

So what are you struggling with? Which of these quotes is helping you move to the next step? If you need a help with accountability and publishing, we encourage you to look into our Self Publishing School model. Attend a webinar with Chandler this week to get started!

Maureen Wise

Maureen Wise is a freelance writer working on publishing her own book and learning fast through Self Publishing School’s blog and podcast. She contributes to Tom’s of Maine Good Matters Blog, the Good Nature Organic Lawn Care blog, EcoWatch and more. Wise also works in higher ed sustainability and previously in stream restoration. She loves running, trees, Sherlock Holmes and hanging out with her family (especially on a hike or a kayak). Twitter | Portfolio

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