10 Literary Quotes to Learn From

Quotes from great writers are not just inspirational, but learning tools. I devour books on writing and love the advice they give.

I also love the hidden gems from bloggers. Sometimes their articles and quotes are as profound as the literary masters.

Here are my 10 favourites, some authors you will recognise, others not.

The first draft of everything is shit – Ernest Hemingway

Although none of the others are in order this is my absolute favourite of all time. It was shared with me, by a friend and since then I have made it into a poster and stuck it to my office wall. Hemingway reminds us, the importance of the first draft. Plough through and put words on paper, it might be awful, but at least you have something down. You then work on polishing the draft into a completed masterpiece.

Keep trying until it turns into writing – David Carr

This is another mantra to live by. Whenever you have writer’s block,  keep working at that writing. Sometimes it will feel clunky and hard work, but to produce work you have to write. Some of the pieces I have struggled the most to write have had a brilliant response. There will be times when writing flows and times when you feel like you’re pushing words uphill. For all these times keep pushing, produce content only then can you call yourself a writer.

If there is a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it – Tom Morrison

The reason I started writing was the fact I knew I had the bones of a story that no one had written before. My crime novel, which is at the editing stage, is a book I would want to read. It is written in a structure that I enjoy reading. Whether you are writing fact or fiction, write in a fashion that you would enjoy reading. Your enthusiasm for your writing will shine through, encouraging others to read it.

Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid or making friends. In the end, it’s about enriching the lives of those who read your work. – Stephen King

Although, we can all dream for the success of JK Rowling and Stephen King it cannot be what drives us. Many indie authors make a reasonable living from writing but never reach stardom. If you are writing to become famous, my advice is to put the pen down and apply for Love Island. If you write because you have to create then you are on the right path.

Challengers are fun, but you know…. Life is messy – Jazz Feathers

I was chatting to this author when she came out with this quote and I loved it. It reminded me that no matter what, sometimes life gets in the way of what we hope to achieve. When this happens it’s best to sit back accept it and move on. Don’t spend valuable writing time obsessing over lost writing time. That makes no sense. 

If you are using dialogue – say it aloud as you write it. – John Steinbeck

Dialogue is one of the most difficult things to write. To make it realistic you must read it out loud, to ensure it flows. It is also an advantage to know your age range. If you are writing a teenager speech. Then talk to a teenager, you will find they speak very differently when compare to a World War 2 veteran.

Identity is the evolution of personality – Tammy Hader

I found this a very thought-provoking quote. I have changed so much since I started writing. I have changed as a person, but also as a writer. As my writing has evolved so has my style, writers voice and personality.

You have to go when you don’t feel like it, and sometimes you’re doing good work when it feels like all you’re managing is to shovel shit from a sitting point – Stephen King

I know two quotes from Stephen King, to be honest, I could have chosen so many more. I urge anyone who hasn’t read it to read his ‘On Writing’ book.

Writing is hard if anyone tells you it isn’t, they are lying. This quote shows all authors the importance of perseverance and determination.

The greatest teacher, failure is – Yoda

Okay Yoda is a character from a film, doesn’t stop me loving this quote though. Mistakes and failure will always be learning opportunities. If you fail the first time, keep trying, in the end, everything will click and you will succeed. Take the lessons that failure teaches you and move forward with them.

If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough – Albert Einstein

When I am writing a blog on any aspect of education or writing I always try to explain things as clearly as I can. I teach Math at school and when a young person doesn’t understand, I make it clear to them it’s my problem, not theirs. If they don’t understand I have to find a way to make them understand. By knowing the subject matter well, you can then adapt and explain it, so all understand it.

These are a few examples of quotes that have inspired me.

What are your favourite literary quotes?

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