People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can’t find them, make them.
The moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would come his way. Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.
It is better to raise an issue without deciding it than to decide an issue without raising it.
In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is.
Whoever does not believe in miracles is not a realist.
You owe it to all of us to get on with what you’re good at.
Success is going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.
There is no waste of time in life like that of making explanations.
Don’t fight the problem. Decide it. AVOID TRIVIA.
You can make as many mistakes as you like, but don’t make the same one twice.
Put all your eggs in one basket and watch that basket.
Immense power is acquired by assuring yourself in your secret reveries that you were born to control affairs.
If I go a single day without practicing, I can tell the difference. If I go two days without practicing, the critics can tell the difference. If I go three days without practicing, everyone can tell the difference.
Everyone wants an author on the shelf or in the family tree, but no one wants him in the house.
When a man writes from his own mind, he writes very rapidly. The greatest part of a writer’s time is spent in reading, in order to write; a man will turn over half a library to make one book.
We must read what the world reads at the moment.
Language is the dress of thought.
Sir, no man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money.
It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation.
Oh, Time, Strength, Cash, and Patience!
There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness is the true method.
Many highly intelligent people are poor thinkers. Many people of average intelligence are skilled thinkers. The power of a car is separate from the way the car is driven.
The intellect of man is forced to choose
Perfection of the life or of the work.
Art is a social act of a solitary man.
I would rather be a failure at something I love than a success at something I hate.
Colleges hate geniuses, just as convents hate saints.
There is creative reading as well as creative writing.
When I have pointed out one corner of a square to anyone and he does not come back with the other three, I will not point it out to him a second time.
Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections but instantly set about remedying them—every day begin the task now.
If you want to give up, then perhaps you should give up. The real writer doesn’t consider that an option. Courage matters as much as talent.
The test of a vocation is the love of the drudgery it involves.
Being a writer means having homework for the rest of your life.
A good reader is rarer than a good writer.
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance [by Robert M. Pirsig] received 122 rejections before it found a publisher. Since then it has not been out of print.
Talent is always conscious of its own abundance and does not object to sharing.
The difference between the almost-right word and the right word is the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.
Nothing is more tedious than a writer claiming to be misrepresented. It is usually his own fault.
No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader.
We are told that talent creates its own opportunities. But it sometimes seems that intense desire creates not only its own opportunities, but its own talents.
Critics are like eunuchs in a harem. They know how it’s done, they’ve seen it done every day, but they’re unable to do it themselves.
First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win.
It takes twenty years to make an overnight success.
You can’t please dysfunctional people; it’s like drying your hands with water.
Your best strategy is to manage your creativity, not your time. People who manage their creativity get happy and rich. People who manage their time get tired.
Anything’s possible if you've got enough nerve.
Writers aren’t exactly people. Or if they’re any good, they’re a whole lot of people trying to be one person.
Ninety-nine percent of all failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses.
A writer is somebody for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.
Really the writer doesn’t want success… He knows he has a short span of life, that the day will come when he must pass through the wall of oblivion, and he wants to leave a scratch on that wall—Kilroy was here—that somebody a hundred, or a thousand, years later will see.
Kill your darlings.
Good writing is clear thinking made visible.
The difficulty of writing is not to write, but to write what you mean.
I will not apologize for my digressions. Digressions are part of my plan.
The first and final thing you have to do in this world is to last in it and not be smashed by it, and it is the same way with your work.
To comprehend a man’s life, it is necessary to know not merely what he does but also what he purposely leaves undone. There is a limit to the work that can be got out of a human body or a human brain, and he is a wise man who wastes no energy on pursuits for which he is not fitted; and he is still wiser who, from among the things that he can do well, chooses and resolutely follows the best.
In the short run, if you want to influence events, you must work within the establishment. In the long run, if you work within the establishment, you will not change anything fundamentally.
We have been suffering from a surfeit of committees. Committees do harm merely by existing.
Being bored is the only time you are creative.
Perseverance is the hard work you do after you get tired of doing the hard work you already did.
Until you value yourself, you won’t value your time. Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it.
A doctor who takes no fee is worth no fee.
If someone says, “I struggled but did not succeed,” don’t believe him; if he says, “I achieved without struggle,” don’t believe him; but if he says, “I struggled and achieved,” believe him.
Elegance is refusal.
Unprovided with original learning, uninformed in the habits of thinking, unskilled in the arts of composition, I resolved to write a book.
A cloud of critics, of compilers, of commentators, darkened the face of learning, and the decline of genius was soon followed by the corruption of taste.
Television has raised writing to a new low.
We’re overpaying him, but he’s worth it.
Prophets, mystics, poets, scientific discoverers are men whose lives are dominated by a vision; they are essentially solitary men… whose thoughts and emotions are not subject to the dominion of the herd.
Why do people always expect authors to answer questions? I am an author because I wish to ask questions. If I had answers, I’d be a politician.
When your work speaks for itself, don’t interrupt.
The sweat of hard work is not to be displayed. It is much more graceful to appear to be favored by the gods.
Guard your honor. Let your reputation fall where it will. And outlive the bastards.
Writing is the only profession where no one considers you ridiculous if you earn no money.
Writing is a hard way to make a living but a good way to make a life.
There is only one trait that makes the writer. He is always watching. It’s a kind of trick of the mind and he is born with it.
My mother drew a distinction between achievement and success. She said that “achievement is the knowledge that you have studied and worked hard and done the best that is in you. Success is being praised by others, and that’s nice, too, but not as important or satisfying. Always aim for achievement and forget about success.”
Entrepreneurs not only see around corners, they believe what they see.
Language is a charmer. If female beauty were removed from the world, in fact, language would be the charmer.
The writer’s secret is not inspiration—for it is never clear where it comes from—it is his stubbornness, his patience. That lovely Turkish saying—to dig a well with a needle—seems to me to have been said with writers in mind.
Concision is next to godliness.
HABENT SUA FATA LIBELLI. Books have their own fates.
No one can be profoundly original who avoids eccentricity.
Your first duty as a writer is to please yourself. And you have no duty towards anyone else.
I wish not to be read but to be reread.
Please do not understand me too soon.
We are too often bogged down in the thick of thin things.
I love my children with all my heart but I can’t love them with all my time.
I couldn’t wait for success, so I went ahead without it.
Do nothing without deliberation; and when you have acted, do not regret it. (Revised Standard Version, 1957)
Never act without reflection, and you will have nothing to regret when you have done it. (Jerusalem Bible, 1970)
Do nothing without advice, and when thou hast once done, repent not. (King James Version, 1611)
Ne’er do ye speak unless ye ha’ something to say, and when ye are done, be sure and leave off.