Quotes

We’ve been posting a quote a day for several years now, and we’ve developed quite a collection. Below are some of our favorites. These are primarily quotes about screenwriting, though many can apply to all types of writing.

This collection is a work in progress. Check back soon for more screenwriting quotes.

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Woody Allen – I don’t want to achieve immortality through my work; I want to achieve it through not dying. 

Steve Almond – All readers come to fiction as willing accomplices to your lies. Such is the basic goodwill contract made the moment we pick up a work of fiction.

Art Arthur – Don’t get it right, get it written.

Margaret Atwood – There’s no free lunch. Writing is work. It’s also gambling. You don’t get a pension plan. Other people can help you a bit, but ­essentially you’re on your own. ­Nobody is making you do this: you chose it, so don’t whine.

Andrew Bennett – Great writers aren’t great first-drafters. They’re great rewriters.

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

Catherine Drinker Bowen – Writing is not apart from living. Writing is a kind of double living. 

Ray Bradbury – Love. Fall in love and stay in love. Write only what you love, and love what you write. The key word is love. You have to get up in the morning and write something you love, something to live for.

Rita Mae Brown – You sell a screenplay like you sell a car. If somebody drives it off a cliff, that’s it. 

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.

Paddy Chayefsky – Artists don’t talk about art. Artists talk about work. If I have anything to say to young writers, it’s stop thinking of writing as art. Think of it as work.

Frank Darabont – The amazing thing about any movie is not whether it’s good, but that it got made at all.

Joan Didion – Writers are only rarely likable. 

Annie Dillard – Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now.

E.L. Doctorow – Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia.

Roddy Doyle – Good ideas are often murdered by better ones. 

Jeffrey Eugenides – The daily act of writing remains as demanding and maddening as it was before, and the pleasure you get from writing – rare but profound – remains at the true heart of the enterprise. On their best days, writers all over the world are winning Pulitzers, all alone in their studios, with no one watching.

Steve Faber – We all write about the same things. We may disguise it, but we all write about love.

Robert Frost – It begins with a lump in the throat, a sense of wrong, a homesickness, a lovesickness. It is never a thought to begin with.

Andre Gide – The most beautiful things are those that madness prompts and reason writes.

Allegra Goodman – Know your literary tradition, savor it, steal from it, but when you sit down to write, forget about worshiping greatness and fetishizing masterpieces.

William Grass – Getting even is one reason for writing. 

Peter Hamill – Writing is the hardest work in the world not involving heavy lifting. 

Ernest Hemingway – Listen now. When people talk listen completely. Don’t be thinking what you’re going to say. Most people never listen. Nor do they observe. 

Alfred Hitchcock – Our primary function is to create an emotion and our second job is to sustain that emotion. 

Victor Hugo – A man is not idle because he is absorbed in thought; there is a visible labor and there is an invisible labor.

Erica Jong – Everyone has talent. What is rare is the courage to follow the talent to the dark places where it leads. 

Stephen King – When your story is ready for rewrite, cut it to the bone. Get rid of every ounce of excess fat. This is going to hurt; revising a story down to the bare essentials is always a little like murdering children, but it must be done. 

Viki King – Write from your heart; rewrite from your head. 

Louis L’Amour – If you’re going to be a writer, the first essential is just to write. Do not wait for an idea. Start writing something and the ideas will come. You have to turn the faucet on before the water starts to flow.

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.

Norman Mailer – Being a real writer means being able to do the work on a bad day. 

Wilson Mizner – If you steal from one author, it’s plagiarism; if you steal from many, it’s research.

Toni Morrison – I type in one place, but I write all over the house. 

Winnie the Pooh – This writing business. Pencils and whatnot. Overrated, if you ask me.

Richard Price – A movie is not a book. If the source material is a book, you cannot be too respectful of the book. All you owe to the book is the spirit. Everything else– just tear that motherfucker apart. 

Harold Ramis – I always claim that the writer has done 90 percent of the director’s work.

Francoise Sagan – I shall live bad if I do not write and I shall write bad if I do not live. 

Saki – A little inaccuracy sometimes saves tons of explanation. 

Nicholas Sparks – Writing the last page of the first draft is the most enjoyable moment in writing. It’s one of the most enjoyable moments in life, period.

Rod Sterling – Whenever you write, whatever you write, never make the mistake of assuming the audience is any less intelligent than you are.

John Swetnam – The best way to get an agent? Write a good script. If your first one isn’t good enough, make it better. If it still isn’t good enough, write a new one. Once you write a good script, the rest will work itself out.

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

Peter de Vries – I love being a writer. What I can’t stand is the paperwork.

 

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