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Random Sage Advice from Famous Writers

One learns to write by writing. But it never hurts to have guidance from someone who has already proven themselves successful at the task. Following are some random bits of advice by some of those people. I don’t necessarily agree with their political or economic opinions or condone everything they wrote, but they were successful and prolific writers, so they knew how to write and were successful at it. Their advice is instructing me; maybe it will help you, too.

Robert Frost: “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader.”

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

W. Somerset Maugham: “Writing is a whole-time job: no professional writer can afford only to write when he feels like it.”

T.S. Eliot: “Writing every day is a way of keeping the engine running, and then something good may come out of it.”

James Michener: “Many people who want to be writers don’t really want to be writers. They want to have been writers. They wish they had a book in print.”

J.J. Rousseau: “However great a man’s natural talent may be, the art of writing cannot be learned all at once.”

Lewis Carroll: “I don’t want to take up literature in a money-making spirit, or be very anxious about making large profits, but selling it at a loss is another thing altogether, and an amusement I cannot well afford.”

John Steinbeck: “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.”

Alfred Kazin: “In a very real sense, the writer writes in order to teach himself, to understand himself, to satisfy himself; the publishing of his ideas, though it brings gratifications, is a curious anticlimax.”

Montesquieu: “A man who writes well writes not as others write, but as he himself writes. . . .”

John Kenneth Galbraith: “There are days when the result is so bad that no fewer than five revisions are required. In contrast, when I’m greatly inspired, only four revisions are needed.”

Burton Rascoe: “What no wife of a writer can ever understand is that a writer is working when he’s staring out of the window.”

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