The art of writing: ‘All you have to do is open a vein’

From Churchill to Orwell to Andy Rooney, a range of quotes about the lonely craft.

From Churchill to Orwell to Andy Rooney, a range of quotes about the lonely craft

One of my nerdy hobbies is to collect quotes about writing. Here are a few of my favorites. Please add yours.

Sir Winston Churchill knew a thing or three about the high-stakes game of persuasive writing. Here is his well-honed advice:

If you have an important point to make, don’t try to be subtle or clever. Use a pile driver. Hit the point once. Then come back and hit it again. Then hit it a third time—a tremendous whack.

English schoolmaster Henry Watson Fowler (1858-1933) and his brother, the writer Francis George Fowler (1871-1918), devoted their lives to encouraging people to write more clearly and directly. If you don’t have time to read their intimidating (but wonderful) book Modern English Usage, here’s a maxim to keep posted beside your computer:

Anyone who wishes to become a good writer should endeavour, before he allows himself to be tempted by the more showy qualities, to be direct, simple, brief, vigorous and lucid.

Muriel Rukeyser (1913 to 1980) was an American poet and political activist. And I suppose it would take a poet to express such a profound thought in so few words:

The world is not made up of atoms; it’s made up of stories.

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