29 Answers About Writers and the Writing Life

Have you ever wondered what all this buzz is about the writing life, or whether you have what it takes to become a writer?

Maybe you’ve always wanted to write a novel. Maybe you have a writer in your own life and you wonder what he or she does all day. Maybe you’ve been watching The Affair on Showtime and now you want to hit the big time like Noah Solloway. (Good luck with that.)

Here are 29 famous and not-so-famous quotes to answer your burning questions.

First of all, what is writing?

“All our words are but crumbs that fall down from the feast of the mind.”
~Khalil Gibran

“Every piece of writing is a groping into that foggy and confused place where jumbles of thoughts, memories, and feelings agitate.”
~Tsipi Keller

“Writing is like a drug. You begin just for the fun and you end up organizing your life around your vice, like the addicts.”
~António Lobo Antunes

“Good writing is about telling the truth.”
~Anne Lamott

“To write is to speak what it feels like to be human.”
~Jack Driscoll

“Writing is a process of getting beyond.”
~Ellen Bass

“What’s writing really about? It’s trying to take fuller possession of the reality of your life.”
~Ted Hughes



“[Writing] is a necessity as simple as the need to be touched…A poem is not a puzzle that you the dutiful reader are obliged to solve. It is meant to poke you, get you to buck up, pay attention, rise and shine, look alive, get a grip, get the picture, pull up your socks, wake up and die right.”
~Garrison Keillor


“Every time a person writes, it is an attempt to understand where one has been, and where one is going.”
~Sherry Reiter

“Maybe stories are just data with a soul.”
~Brené Brown

Why is writing so important?

“While the tale of how we suffer, and how we are delighted, and how we may triumph is never new, it always must be heard. There isn’t any other tale to tell, it’s the only light we’ve got in all this darkness.”
~James Baldwin

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

“[Writing] gives you the freedom to cope, freedom you don’t get in your outer life.”
~Marvin Bell

“How do I know what I think until I see what I say?”
~E. M. Forster

“Writing is a personal archaeology. As you write, a layer comes off the past and you see things you hadn’t seen before.”
~John Rember

“Writing is the cure for the disease of living. Doing it may sometimes feel like an escape from the world, but at its best moments it is an act of rescue.”
~Roger Rosenblatt

“Let us remember…that in the end we [write] for one reason, so that we might more fully inhabit our lives and the world in which we live them, and that if we more fully inhabit these things, we might be less apt to destroy both.”
~Christian Wiman

woolf1-e1402796124116-650x413“By putting into words, I can make it whole; this way it has lost the power to hurt me.”
~Virginia Woolf

“If I can write again then I can be happy again.”
~John Steinbeck

“[Writing] takes us out of ourselves and into ourselves.”
~Victoria Field

“See, the thing is, as a writer, you are free.”
~Ursula K. LeGuin

Who can become a writer?

“The minimum basic requirement for writing is to be human.”
~Jasper Fforde

“Anyone who survived childhood has enough material to write for the rest of his or her life.”
~Flannery O’Connor

“I consider myself kind of a reporter–one who uses words that are more like music and that have a choreography.”
~Mary Oliver

“We are all storytellers, and the story that consumes us the most is the one we tell ourselves about our own lives.”
~Peggy Penn

“The storyteller is the person who creates an atmosphere in which wisdom reveals itself.”
~Barry Lopez

Pololu beach 2010“But you don’t have to be a great thinker to become a writer. You have to be able to experience life with your heart and soul as much as with your brain. If you can do this, you can write.”
~G. Elizabeth Kretchmer (I had to slip myself in here somewhere.)

How does one go about writing?

“Writing…should be a journey, and journeys are full of changed plans and self doubt and beauty and fun and sometimes a blister or two. When you go on a journey, you don’t necessarily know where you’re going to end up. If you know where you’re going to end up, that’s a commute. Who loves a commute?”
~Camille T. Dungy

“I want to be clear about this. If you wrote from experience, you’d get maybe one book, maybe three poems. Writers write from empathy.”
~Nikki Giovanni


Yes, we write from empathy. Yes, every time we sit down to write, we embark on a journey. And sometimes we’re on that journey when we’re not even sitting butt-in-chair. Walking the dog, taking a nap, staring out into space: we are often times writing when we’re doing these things too. (Really. I’m not making this up.)

And yes, the writing world is overpopulated with writers wanting to be published. And there are many writers who don’t welcome the competition.

But while getting published is really nice, and validating, my primary goal, even passion, is discovering more about my self and my world through the written word, and I welcome anyone into this writing community who wants to do that too. Feel free to contact me, via my website contact page, to talk more about this writing life.





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