Enough heart

The only calibration that counts is how much heart people invest, how much they ignore their fears of being hurt or caught out or humiliated. And the only thing people regret is that they didn’t live boldly enough, that they didn’t invest enough heart, didn’t love enough. Nothing else really counts at all. Ted Hughes, The Letters of Ted Hughes

Exercise the writing muscle

Exercise the writing muscle every day, even if it is only a letter, notes, a title list, a character sketch, a journal entry. Writers are like dancers, like athletes. Without that exercise, the muscles seize up. Jane Yolen

Writers are here to challenge

Writers are not here to conform. We are here to challenge. We’re not here to be comfortable—we’re here, really, to shake things up. That’s our job. Jeanette Winterson

The Greatest of Human Inventions

A book is made from a tree. It is an assemblage of flat, flexible parts (still called “leaves”) imprinted with dark pigmented squiggles. One glance at it and you hear the voice of another person, perhaps someone dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, the author is speaking, clearly and silently, inside your head, directly to you. Writing is …

Philip Pullman on Stories

Stories have to begin. Out of the welter of events and ideas and pictures and characters and voices that you experience in your head, you the storyteller must choose the start. You could begin anywhere in the chronology, of course; you could begin in the middle, in medias res, which is a soundly classical way to begin; but you do …

Roald Dahl’s Seven Tips for Writers

You should have a lively imagination. You should be able to write well. By that I mean you should be able to make a scene come alive in the reader’s mind. Not everybody has this ability. It is a gift and you either have it or you don’t. You must have stamina. In other words, you must be able to …


“You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it’s good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it. That’s why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence.” ― Octavia E. Butler

Truth and Freedom

“A writer is a person who cares what words mean, what they say, how they say it. Writers know words are their way towards truth and freedom, and so they use them with care, with thought, with fear, with delight. By using words well they strengthen their souls. Story-tellers and poets spend their lives learning that skill and art of …

On plotting and planning

I am having a hard time with the book. Have enough paper written to make it complete, but must do all over again. I just didn’t know where I was going and when I got there I saw that I had come to the wrong place. That’s the hell of being the kind of writer who cannot plan anything, but …

Speaking too soon

That is why writers are so unwilling to talk about a work in progress. They are afraid of speaking too soon and from the wrong place, with the wrong voice; of resolving too quickly, in talk, the tension whose energies they will need to draw on later, in solitary struggle and against the resistance of what has not yet been …