- The first rule . . . is to have something to say.
(Arthur Schopenhauer, Parerga und Paralipomena, 1851)
- Apply the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair.
(variously attributed to Sinclair Lewis, Mary Heaton Vorse, Ernest Hemingway, Clare Boothe Luce, and others)
- Keep your hand moving. When you sit down to write, whether it's for ten minutes or an hour, once you begin, don't stop.
(Natalie Goldberg, Wild Mind: Living the Writer's Life. Bantam, 1990)
- Keep it simple. Be clear. Think of your reader, not yourself. Cheer up.
(attributed to Roger Angell)
- A good rule for writers: Do not explain overmuch.
(William Somerset Maugham, A Writer's Notebook. Doubleday, 1948)
- Don't trust a brilliant idea unless it survives the hangover.
(Jimmy Breslin, Saturday Night Live, May 18, 1986)
- The main rule of a writer is never to pity your manuscript. If you see something is no good, throw it away and begin again.
(attributed to Isaac Bashevis Singer)
- Whenever you feel an impulse to perpetrate a piece of exceptionally fine writing, obey it--wholeheartedly--and delete it before sending your manuscript to press. Murder your darlings.
(Arthur Quiller-Couch, On the Art of Writing, 1916)
- An excellent rule for writers is this: Condense your article to the last possible point consistent with clearness. Then cut off its head and tail, and serve up the remains with the sauce of good humor.
(C.A.S. Dwight, "The Religious Press." The Editor, 1897)
- Do not pay attention to the rules other people make. . . . They make them for their own protection, and to hell with them.
More Writers on Writing: