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The Able Writer

The craft and arts of writing demand that complex skills are built up. There are things to master with many steps onwards and upwards. Before you become an accomplished writer, know what predecessors in the trade managed to talk about, as there might be a few things to consider somehow along with developing technical mastery.

In the first section below are by now 75 quotations and pithy sayings on writing. Sayings without author names linked to them can be credited T. Kinnes.

The digital revolution is as yet as significant for writing as the use of goose-feathers, but may not last as long.

Writing Quotations

A good many young writers make the mistake of enclosing a stamped, self-addressed envelope, big enough for the manuscript to come back in. This is too much of a temptation to the editor. - Ring Lardner (1885–1933), "How to Write Short Stories"

A wisely written book establishes a kind of dialogue it with its reader.

A writer is a writer is writer because even when there is no hope and no signs of promise, she keeps on writing anyway. - Cf. Junot Diaz, O Magazine, November 2009

The man who doesn't read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them. - Mark Twain

All my best thoughts were stolen by the ancients. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

An editor is someone who separates the wheat from the chaff. - Adlai Stevenson

As a budding artist it may pay to heed the wisdom of Goethe in "Authors": "He plucks the flowers that fairest seem."

Being a writer is like having homework every night. - With Lawrence Kasdan

Being reviewed has little relation to earning a respectable income. - Paul William Kingston and Jonathan R. Cole.

Description is a learned skill, and a question of how much. - Stephen King abr. - On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft (2000) - On Writing, 6

Do not put statements in the negative form.

And don't start sentences with a conjunction. - William Safire, "Great Rules of Writing"

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. - Barbara Kingsolver

Either it pays to write well, or it should have paid. Few rise into prominence as writers before they are dead.

Every author in some way portrays himself in his works, even if it be against his will. - Goethe

Everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it. - Sylvia Plath

Evoking anger and yet remain intact can be a rather good sign of the matured artistic spirit.

Good history begins with a good story. - James West Davidson and Mark Hamilton Lyttle, After the Fact: The Art of Historical Detection

I am a galley slave to pen and ink. - Honore de Balzac

I am a man, and alive . . . For this reason I am a novelist. And being a novelist, I consider myself . . . the whole hog. - D. H. Lawrence, preface to Shestov, All Things Are Possible, 1938

I am sitting in the smallest room in my house. I have your review in front of me. Soon it will be behind me. - Max Reger, German composer

I don't know who was the more appalled; my former teachers, who refused to believe it, or my family, who didn't want to believe it. - Truman Capote, novelist, describing some reactions when it was known that his IQ had been measured and he was in the genius category.

If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn't brood. I'd type a little faster. - Isaac Asimov

If you reread your work, you will find that a great deal of repetition that can be avoided. - With William Safire

If you want to get rich from writing, write the sort of thing that's read by persons who move their lips when they're reading to themselves. - Don Marquis

If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write things worth reading or do things worth writing. - Benjamin Franklin

In the end it's up to you. I'd say that in today's tough publishing climate . . . - Joseph Hansen, mystery writer

It might at long last prove advantageous to an author that his book is both attacked and praised. - Cf. Samuel Johnson

It is fit to acknowledge what is great wherever we find it or whoever comes up with it, in rough outline.

It is nearly impossible to discourage ardent writers - they shake off what you say, they're going to write.

It is plagiarism when you take something out of a book and use it as your own. If you take it out of several books then it is research. - Ralph Foss, 1932

It should be useful to study the best at hand and also the cream teachings you can adapt locally - that's where you are and may have to conform a whole lot.

It took me fifteen years to discover I had no talent for writing, but I couldn't give it up because by that time I was too famous. - Robert Benchley

Loafing is the most productive part of a writer's life. - James Norman Hall

Lovable development is much of an enterprise, and for that reason can be helped by managerial thought and common sense.

Many critics are like woodpeckers who hop incessantly around the trunk pecking holes in the bark to discover some little worm or other. - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Metaphors have a way of holding the most truth in the least space. - Orson Scott Card

Promotion will sell a book with and without appeal. - Cf. Bernard Geis, publisher

One role of a writer is not to say what we all can say, but what we are unable to say. - With Anaïs Nin

Our passions shape our books. - Marcel Proust, The Past Recaptured, 1927

Politics: If you succeed there are many rewards, if you disgrace yourself you can always write a book. - Ronald Reagan

Proofread carefully to see if you any words out. - Author Unknown

Short words are best and the old words when short are best of all. - Winston Churchill

Sit down, and put down everything that comes into your head and then you're a writer. - Sidonie Gabrielle Colette, Casual Chance, 1964

Some day you may retire. Should you try to write a lot then? Those who can, can. Those who can't may study a lot if they can keep away from the beer and the Force is with them.

Some reviews give pain. This is regrettable. However, one must take the publicity that comes along. - With E. M. Forster, in The Author, Summer 1943

Some sorts of writing is like prostitution. First you do it for love, and then for a few close friends, and then for money. - With Moli`re

Somewhere between milk and yogurt. - Calvin Trillin, on the average shelf life of a book.

The ablest writer is only a gardener first, and then a cook: his tasks are, carefully to select and cultivate his strongest and most nutritive thoughts; and when they are ripe, to dress them, wholesomely, and yet so that they may have a relish. - Augustus William Hare and Julius Charles Hare, Guesses at Truth, by Two Brothers, 1827

The cream may evoke a scream, and for the good reasons.

The first thing a writer has to do is find another source of income . . . Maybe no one will publish it, and if they publish it, maybe no one will read it. That is what it means to be a writer. - Ellen Gilchrist, abr.

The good writers touch life often. - Ray Bradbury

The moment a man begins to talk about technique, he might be fresh out of ideas. - Raymond Chandler, mod

The noble quest often fails and suffers setbacks for lack of support. The better you are, the less the stubborn idiots may welcome you.

The success of many books is due to the affinity between the mediocrity of the author's ideas and those of the public. - Nicolas Chamfort

There are so many different kinds of writing and so many ways to work that the only rule is this: do what works. - Sophy Burnham

There are three rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are. - W. Somerset Maugham

To conclude well isn't the only boon around. Good food counts too, and taking a deep breath and infuse ourselves with nature's scenery.for example.

Typos are very important to all written form. It gives the reader something to look for so they aren't distracted by the total lack of content in your writing. - Randy K. Milholland, Something Positive Comic, 07-03-05

We may start out wanting to change the world through language and end up appreciating good jokes.

We've got 40,000 books published each year, and 90% of them are swill. - John Leonard, in 1984

What no wife of a writer can ever understand is that a writer is working when he's staring out of the window. - Burton Rascoe

When we see a natural style we are quite amazed and delighted, because we expected to see an author and find a man. - Blaise Pascal, Pensées, 1670

When a book comes into print today, suddenly there are ten false witnesses to testify it is the greatest which has ever appeared. - Isaac Bashevis Singer, quoted in 1970

When a writer spends years of his life writing a book, you owe it to him to say, "With the best will in the world, I tried to read this." - Norman Mailer abr, quoted in 1986

When you wish to instruct, be brief; that men's minds take in quickly what you say, learn its lesson, and retain it faithfully. Every word that is unnecessary only pours over the side of a brimming mind. - Cicero

Words have to be fitted together with some care. - With Norman Cousins

Writing is a craft that requires both talent and acquired skills. You learn by doing and seeing where you went wrong also. - Cf. Jeffrey A. Carver

Writing can be hard work, and a great deal of life, your personal life. - Doris Lessing, mod

Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way. - E. L. Doctorow

Writing is not necessarily something to be ashamed of, but . . . - Robert Heinlein (1907 - 1988)

You can learn as much by writing as by reading. - Cf. Lord Acton

You can write what is worth preserving for the future and without much ado about it. That might end very well.

You know who the critics are? – the men who have failed in literature and art. - Benjamin Disraeli, Lothar

You must be prepared to work always without applause. - Ernest Hemingway

Presentations Through Logos and Maya Could Help

A rewarding interpretation may help one's way.

All language is presentative, and most of it is also representative in that it refers to things, and yet hardly ever contain the things it refers to or "talks of".

Fit language conforms to the "ascending" art of presentation - summing up relevant background information and findings through half-figurative expressions and now and then fresh figures of speech too, as the need arises.

However, if figures of speech lack sound, sensible agreements as to their main meanings, and especially if they gainsay facts, someone may be pulling your leg by those figures - by oratory, demagogy, and other bad sides of influencing masses. Camouflaged attempts at persuading and swaying others into mere consumers is part of cultural gambits and customs.

Metaphors are half-baked into words, fixed expressions (idioms), and proverbial phrases too.

Quite a bit rests on presentation that gives communication good conditions to blossom if finer facets need to be studied.

Study and judicious interpretation had better not be tendentious, stiffened and unsound otherwise either, for then it tends to become a burden or nuisance.

Technical language in the sciences is launched through setting together parts of word forms and infusing new, significant meanings into some of them, as conditions or "time" allows. So there is a need for plenty of new word-images and paintings, with sketches in between, in the sciences as well.

The best is probably to derive benefits at whichever "stage in this and that process" one may feel inside. What is called stages, may overlap or run more or less like parallell strands along the way too.

The "hybridisation" art of coining words is great help in getting fit vocabulary in time. A good dictionary may explain how most words have developed through the ages, and what basics many words are combined to yield new meanings according to conventions or definitions.

When good, substantial findings are in need of succinct presentation that is easy to catch, rather easy to recall, the summit of evaluations or well-founded conclusions can be formed into an image of a sort.

Why frisk figurative language is welcome in scientific presentations, is that it can be much effective and not all too sloppy either. There is a fit way of using mataphors, and many other ways. The appropriate ways heed the steps of learning, using figurative expressions as flowers on top of what comes beneath them.

You can be allied with the best expressions of stars, even movie stars. "Zank heaven for leetle girls," sang Maurice Chevalier. The French musical-comedy star Chevalier (1888-1972) made himself known by using a cane and tilted straw hat and an exaggerated French accent as trademarks.

The Craft or Art

One needs a lot of knowledge to master writing well in some genre. If we do not listen to to or learn to write poetry and prose soon after we stopped drinking mother's milk, we can remedy some damage through ploughing through dozens of books on how to write later - from age twelve, for example. It is good to be be skilled in the use of language, as it can make many swear-words unneeded.

Later, there are genres to learn too: short stories, novels, prose, poetry, academic writings, reports factual books and so on. There are huge amounts of rules in style guides - at other times half-rules or changed ruiles, for example on punctuation. There are things that are good to know, other things to take advantage of, and the road is then set for perfecting and enlarging one's repertoire, getting fit ideas and presenting some of them according to formal standards or just plain well is a beginning step. It is good to be able to express oneself. If we don't write for money, but for the pleasure of it, many things hardly matter at all. Yet writing can be amusing and fun too, at least to yourself. At times that matters most of all apart from keeping the wheels rolling - keeping the drive alive.

It might pay not to risk one's life and livelihood for the sake of writing, but some have done so, including Knut Hamsun (1859-1952), author of the half-autobiographic novel "Hunger" (1890). Hamsun was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1920.

If we write for money and recognition - beware: One must often align with what tends to be suitable, whether as fiction or non-fiction. There are levels, good and useful standard or writing, repertoires and different styles to take into account and adhere to also. Given all that and a good deal more, there is much to consider - and perhaps many openings for an aspiring writer - openings into problems too. For there will be many troubles to assess, surmount or get over with, including writers' blocks. If writing is our hobby, we should manage to tackle the blocks along the road, or be spared of the grave problem altogether. Hope that.

For getting ideas, learn the basics of how to get into a creative flow. Learning to argue well, if you should need that. Learn about critical reasoning, if reasoning is the want. For getting solid back-up: learn academic writing. argumentation. For learning about the art of writing poetry or prose and so on, there are books on such sides to it too.

There is more to tell, and much to look into. The books I refer to here, are few,

You May Let Greek Logos and Sanskrit Maya Go Together


What ancient Greeks named logos, is like a naval vessel in a sea of appearances. "Things" can appear or rise into your conscious awareness, and if so they are called phenomena. And the sea is the deep mind or consciousness that people are unaware of.

A kind of boat with a three-layered bottom may serve to illustrate there can be one or more levels or grades of understanding of this or that item: (1) One is basic, substantial. (2) Then evolves a "ground" of fertile agreed-on meanings of more than one kind, up to collective ideations. (3) Another plane (bottom) is of local understandings, interpretations, and ways of handling things. Also, personalised sets may be evolved by artists - and in the nightly dreams. There is room for some individual, maybe idiosyncratic views or attainments in this "innermost boat".

The more you "empty your whole boat" by observing keenly and refining yourself in various ways, the more you may get rid of red and yellow water, the closer you get to the green-blue water of facts as you figure them, and therefore more capable of deriving real benefits in life - provided you do not fail solvency and good and relevant moral. Many exploiters fail in that.

What we do when we appear to understand, is to figure. The meaning of the ancient word 'figure' happens to be much like the root meanings in the Sanskrit 'maya'. It represents "mete out", i.e. measure. The world as we humans perceive it is in no small part a throwing-forward (projection) from within ourselves in a human way. Said in other words, no small part of our ideations or grand perceptions of a world "out there" is basically ideas and units of perceptions and sets (chunks) of ideas the get projected onto the outer world. That is part of how we our notions of the outer world come about as we grow and develop. - Cf maya of Sankara etc.]

If you need order - another word is logos - great study is for that too. Then you figure this and that much better. That's the end of able-making, savoury education some way or other.

Thus, your virginal maya (capacity of forming inner images and other figures and notions) can be vastly improved. Good schooling often helps along that road. One result is called handiness. Great handiness is involved in skilfulness, which is praised in Buddhism too.

It is good to make way into realism for the sake of being capable of expert handling things, substantial and otherwise, to aid the mellow-looking, cosy fare.


Writers quotations, authors sayings, writing quotations, Literature  

Axelrod, Rise B., and Charles R. Cooper. The St. Martin's Guide to Writing. 10th ed. Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2013.

Blamires, Harry. The Penguin Guide to Plain English: Express Yourself Clearly and Effectively. London: Penguin, 2000.

Burack, Sylvia K., ed. The Writer's Handbook. Boston, MA: Writer, 1999.

Mock, Jeff. You Can Write Poetry. Cincinnati, OH: Writer's Digest Books, 1998.

Swetnam, Derek. Writing Your Dissertation. Rev ed. Oxford: How To Books, 2004.

Harvesting the hay

Symbols, brackets, signs and text icons explained: (1) Text markers(2) Digesting.

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