12 inspiring quotes about words and writing

The author, a self-described ‘word nerd,’ shares some her favorite ‘power of words’ quotes from famous writers. Take a look, and share your own favorites.

Like many other word nerds, I love to collect quotes about writing and the power of words. Here are a few of my favorite “power of words” quotes.

1. “When words are scarce they are seldom spent in vain.” —William Shakespeare, Richard II

2. “One great use of words is to hide our thoughts.”—Voltaire

3. “Words—so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them.” —Nathaniel Hawthorne

4. “So difficult it is to show the various meanings and imperfections of words when we have nothing else but words to do it with.” —John Locke

5. “Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very’; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.” —Mark Twain

6. “Don’t use words too big for the subject. Don’t say ‘infinitely’ when you mean ‘very’; otherwise you’ll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.” —C. S. Lewis

7. “Writing stopped being fun when I discovered the difference between good writing and bad and, even more terrifying, the difference between it and true art. And after that, the whip came down.” —Truman Capote

8. “The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns, as it were, instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish squirting out ink.” —George Orwell

9. “For all I know, writing comes out of a superior devotion to reading.” —Eudora Welty

10. “There is not much to be said about the period, except that most writers don’t reach it soon enough.” —Edith Wharton

11. “Writing is a hellish task, best snuck up on, whacked on the head, robbed, and left for dead.” —Ann-Marie MacDonald

12. “Many people hear voices when no one is there. Some of them are called mad and are shut up in rooms where they stare at the walls all day. Others are called writers and they do pretty much the same thing.” —Margaret Chittenden

Readers, care to take a break and share your favorite writing quotes?

Laura Hale Brockway writes about writing on her blog, Impertinent Remarks.

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