Inspirational Thoughts from 35 Writers to Improve Your Nonfiction Writing

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03 Jul 2019

INSPIRATIONAL THOUGHTS FROM 35 WRITERS TO IMPROVE YOUR NONFICTION WRITING

Even the most seasoned writers have days when they lack drive or just can’t seem to come up with new and fresh ideas to put on paper. During those moments when writer’s block feels like it is never-ending, it always helps to have a bit of motivational inspiration from authors who have made it big in the writing world.

From poetic advice to quotes from world-famous novelists, these words of wisdom are sure to help you re-gain momentum and get out of that writing funk:

1. Maya Angelou:

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”

2. Isaac Asimov:

“It is the writer who might catch the imagination of young people, and plant a seed that will flower and come to fruition.”

“I write for the same reason I breathe— because if I didn’t, I would die.”

3. W.H. Auden:

“Some writers confuse authenticity, which they ought to always aim at, with originality, which they should never bother about.”

4. Enid Bagnold:

“Who wants to become a writer? And why? Because it’s the answer to everything. … It’s the streaming reason for living. To note, to pin down, to build up, to create, to be astonished at nothing, to cherish the oddities, to let nothing go down the drain, to make something, to make a great flower out of life, even if it’s a cactus.”

5. Russell Baker:

“The only thing I was fit for was to be a writer, and this notion rested solely on my suspicion that I would never be fit for real work, and that writing didn’t require any.”

6. Ray Bradbury:

“Any man who keeps working is not a failure. He may not be a great writer, but if he applies the old-fashioned virtues of hard, constant labor, he’ll eventually make some kind of career for himself as writer.”

 “Your intuition knows what to write, so get out of the way.”

“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.”

“Let the world burn through you. Throw the prism light, white hot, on paper.”

7. David Brin:

“If you have other things in your life—family, friends, good productive day work—these can interact with your writing and the sum will be all the richer.”

8. William S. Burroughs:

“Cheat your landlord if you can and must, but do not try to shortchange the Muse. It cannot be done. You can’t fake quality any more than you can fake a good meal.”

9. Joseph Conrad:

“A writer without interest or sympathy for the foibles of his fellow man is not conceivable as a writer.”

“Only in men’s imagination does every truth find an effective and undeniable existence. Imagination, not invention, is the supreme master of art as of life.”

10. Anton Chekhov

“My own experience is that once a story has been written, one has to cross out the beginning and the end. It is there that we authors do most of our lying.”

“Don’t tell me the moon is shining: show me the glint of the light on broken glass.”

11. C.J. Cherryh:

“It is perfectly okay to write garbage—as long as you edit brilliantly.”

12. Harlan Ellison:

“People on the outside think there’s something magical about writing, that you go up in the attic at midnight and cast the bones and come down in the morning with a story, but it isn’t like that. You sit in back of the typewriter and you work, and that’s all there is to it.”

13. F. Scott Fitzgerald:

“All good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath.”

14. William Faulkner:

“Get it down. Take chances. It may be bad, but it’s the only way you can do anything really good.”

“The work never matches the dream of perfection the artist has to start with.”

“If I had not existed, someone else would have written me, Hemingway, Dostoyevsky, all of us.”

15. Ernest Hemingway:

 “It’s none of their business that you have to learn to write. Let them think you were born that way.”

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

“When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people, not characters. A character is a caricature.”

16. Erica Jong:

“I went for years not finishing anything. Because, of course, when you finish something you can be judged.”

17. Stephen King:

 “Description begins in the writer’s imagination, but should finish in the reader’s.”

“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”

“Any word you have to hunt for in a thesaurus is the wrong word. There are no exceptions to this rule.”

“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 will read your work, and enriching your own lie, as well. It’s about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy.”

“Making people believe the unbelievable is no trick; it’s work. … Belief and reader absorption come in the details: An overturned tricycle in the gutter of an abandoned neighborhood can stand for everything.”

18. Barbara Kingsolver:

“Don’t try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It’s the one and only thing you have to offer.”

19. Louis L’Amour:

“Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.”

20. Harper Lee:

“I would advise anyone who aspires to a writing career that before developing his talent he would be wise to develop a thick hide.”

21. Anne McCaffrey

“Tell the readers a story! Because without a story, you are merely using words to prove you can string them together in logical sentences.”

22. Somerset Maugham

“If you can tell stories, create characters, devise incidents, and have sincerity and passion, it doesn’t matter a damn how you write.”

“All the words I use in my stories can be found in the dictionary—it’s just a matter of arranging them into the right sentences.”

23. Herman Melville

“To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme.”

24. Larry Niven:

“You learn by writing short stories. Keep writing short stories. The money’s in novels, but writing short stories keeps your writing lean and pointed.”

25. George Orwell:

“When I sit down to write a book, I do not say to myself, ‘I am going to produce a work of art.’ I write it because there is some lie that I want to expose, some fact to which I want to draw attention, and my initial concern is to get a hearing.”

26. Sylvia Plath:

“Some things are hard to write about. After something happens to you, you go to write it down, and either you over dramatize it, or underplay it, exaggerate the wrong parts or ignore the important ones. At any rate, you never write it quite the way you want to.”

27. Ayn Rand

“Words are a lens to focus one’s mind.”

28. Edgar Rice Burroughs

“I have been successful probably because I have always realized that I knew nothing about writing and have merely tried to tell an interesting story entertainingly.”

“If you write one story, it may be bad; if you write a hundred, you have the odds in your favor.”

29. Mark Twain

“Most writers regard truth as their most valuable possession, and therefor are most economical in its use.”

“Focus more on your desire than on your doubt, and the dream will take care of itself.”

“Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.” 

“The difference between the almost right word and the right word is … the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.”

30. Alan W. Watts:

“Stop aspiring and start writing. If you’re writing, you’re a writer. Write like you’re a goddamn death row inmate and the governor is out of the country and there’s not chance for a pardon. Write like you’re clinging to the edge of a cliff, white knuckles, on your last breath, and you’ve just got one last thing to say, like you’re a bird flying over us and you can see everything, and please, for God’s sake, tell us something that will save us from ourselves.”

31. Walt Whitman:

“A writer can do nothing for men more necessary, satisfying, than just simply to reveal to them the infinite possibilities of their own souls.”

32. E.B. Wight:

“No one can write decently who is distrustful of the reader’s intelligence or whose attitude is patronizing.”

33. Richard Wright:

“The more closely the author thinks of why he wrote, the more he comes to regard his imagination as a kind of self-generating cement which glued his facts together, and his emotions as a kind of dark and obscure designer of those facts. Reluctantly, he comes to the conclusion that to account for his book is to account for his life.”

34. Jane Yolen:

“Exercise the writing muscle every day, even if it is only a letter, notes, a title list, a character sketch, a journal entry. Writers are like dancers, like athletes. Without that exercise, the muscles seize up.”

35. William Zinsser:

“I almost always urge people to write in the first person. … Writing is an act of ego and you might as well admit it.” 

“To defend what you’ve written is a sign that you are alive.”

Author
Jennifer Rizzo 
Jennifer Rizzo is a Denver based writer with a background in Healthcare, International Tour Management, Genealogical Research, and a passion for travel and languages. She studied Spanish at the University of Guadalajara in Guadalajara, Mexico and also lived and studied in Ancona, Italy. After spending nearly a decade working in the health care field, Jennifer has a well-rounded knowledge of hospital functionality, medical terminology, and disease processes. She has extended work experience with government medical benefits as well as Social Security law, which has allowed her to fine-tune her ability to sort through large amounts of medical records, research, and data, and turn that information into well written reports and case briefs. Since joining The Writers for Hire, Jennifer has written on vast array of topics and has done many in-depth ancestry research and family history projects. She has worked as Project Manager for various client websites, family history books, and RFPs, as well as other projects. She enjoys working closely with clients, and loves any opportunity that allows her to indulge her creative side.

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