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99 Shrewd Quotes About Writing With Thinking and Journal Assignments

Updated on August 2, 2018
Dunbar Green profile image

My primary purpose in this moment in time is to perplex and delight Word Weirdos with my love and delight in words.

Photo by Randy Tarampi on Unsplash
Photo by Randy Tarampi on Unsplash

Thinking Assignment Parameters and Requirements

Here are the directions for our favorite lesson. We call the lesson a thinking assignment because it combines critical thinking skills with writing and analytical skills. Best of all, if you are feeling lazy, you can skip the writing and just think about it. You won't glean all the good bits you would have had you written it down, but you still learn a little just by thinking.


1. First gather up a journal or notebook of a sort you are comfortable using and your favorite writing instrument.

2. Gather many stationary supplies so you are sure to have everything you might need at hand. Marking and doodling in your journal is encouraged since every image you may draw communicates and as such qualifies as writing.

Yeah, even doodles. What are cartoons but sophisticated doodles and yet they are valued and of unquestioned communicative amplitude and conciseness.

If you prefer to use your phone or laptop, of course you may. Comfort is key in this scenario, so please suit yourself.

3. Designate a location in your surroundings which you will use to read and reflect in writing about each quote. Make the location very comfortable, inviting, even. You may wish to incorporate shades of purple into the study space since purple is associated with creative thoughts and new ideas.

4. Read the first quote or read through all of the quotes. Select either the first or another quote for today’s thinking assignment. To finish all the material here, you will be writing in this journal twice a week for about a year to finish all the material, so work at your own pace and complete as many of these as you wish.

Don’t forget to enjoy yourself.

Answer the following questions about the quote.

  1. Describe what the quote objectively means. Describe what it subjectively means to you?
  2. To whom did the advice or observation apply? How did you know?
  3. In what way is this quote of use to me?
  4. In what way might the idea be useful to others? If so whom?
  5. Does the quote have any specific cultural meaning that might differ from one cultural setting to another?
  6. How did you feel when you thought about the quote?
  7. What philosophical or theoretical paradigm is represented by the quote?
  8. What other ideas does the quote’s author, if applicable, write about?
  9. Would you say the quote was a positive or negative take on the subject?
  10. Connect the quote to your larger culture? What would the people in your hygge think about the quote?
  11. Paraphrase (rephrase using your own words) the quote, keeping the original meaning but your own ideas and words.
  12. Describe how this thinking assignment helped to clarify the quote.
  13. Feel free to modify this list in any way you wish.


The Thinking Material: Quotes About Words and Writing

    1. “Words can inspire. And words can destroy. Choose yours well.” Robin Sharma
    2. “Don’t mix your words with your mood, you can change your mood but you can’t take back your words.” Anonymous
    3. “Words are containers for power, you choose what kind of power they carry.” Joyce Meyer
    4. “You can change the course of your life with your words.” Anonymous
    5. “Raise your word, not your voice. It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder.” Rumi
    6. “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
    7. "You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children." Madeleine L'Engle
    8. "If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that." Stephen King
    9. "We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect." Anaïs Nin
    10. "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
    11. "If there's a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it." Toni Morrison
    12. "One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple." Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums
    13. "Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing." Benjamin Franklin
    14. "You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write." Saul Bellow
    15. "No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader." Robert Frost
    16. "Read, read, read. Read everything -- trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You'll absorb it. Then write. If it's good, you'll find out. If it's not, throw it out of the window." William Faulkner
    17. "You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you." Ray Bradbury, Zen in the Art of Writing
    18. 18. "Words can be like X-rays if you use them properly -- they'll go through anything. You read and you're pierced." Aldous Huxley, Brave New World
    19. "How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live." Henry David Thoreau
    20. "I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn." Anne Frank
    21. "A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people." Thomas Mann, Essays of Three Decades
    22. 22. "Let me live, love, and say it well in good sentences." Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath
    23. "Here is a lesson in creative writing. First rule: Do not use semicolons. They are transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing. All they do is show you've been to college." Kurt Vonnegut Jr., A Man Without a Country
    24. "Don't bend; don't water it down; don't try to make it logical; don't edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly." Franz Kafka
    25. "I kept always two books in my pocket, one to read, one to write in." Robert Louis Stevenson
    26. "You can make anything by writing." C.S. Lewis
    27. "A word after a word after a word is power." Margaret Atwood
    28. "Tears are words that need to be written." Paulo Coelho
    29. "You should write because you love the shape of stories and sentences and the creation of different words on a page. Writing comes from reading, and reading is the finest teacher of how to write." Annie Proulx
    30. "Writing is like sex. First you do it for love, then you do it for your friends, and then you do it for money." --Virginia Woolf
    31. "To survive, you must tell stories." --Umberto Eco, The Island of the Day Before
    32. "Always be a poet, even in prose." Charles Baudelaire
    33. "If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn't brood. I'd type a little faster." Isaac Asimov
    34. "The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself." Albert Camus
    35. "I write to discover what I know." Flannery O'Connor
    36. "Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen." John Steinbeck
    37. "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 perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people, citizens of distant epochs, who never knew one another. Books break the shackles of time--proof that humans can work magic." Carl Sagan
    38. "Words do not express thoughts very well. They always become a little different immediately after they are expressed, a little distorted, a little foolish." Hermann Hesse
    39. "Writing books is the closest men ever come to childbearing." Norman Mailer
    40. "Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depth of your heart; confess to yourself you would have to die if you were forbidden to write." Rainer Maria Rilke
    41. "As a writer, you should not judge, you should understand." Ernest Hemingway
    42. "A good writer possesses not only his own spirit but also the spirit of his friends." Friedrich Nietzsche
    43. "The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do." Thomas Jefferson
    44. "If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it. Or, if proper usage gets in the way, it may have to go. I can't allow what we learned in English composition to disrupt the sound and rhythm of the narrative."  Elmore Leonard
    45. "Writers live twice."  Natalie Goldberg
    46. "To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme." Herman Melville
    47. "Words are a lens to focus one's mind." Ayn Rand
    48. "I am irritated by my own writing. I am like a violinist whose ear is true, but whose fingers refuse to reproduce precisely the sound he hears within." Gustave Flaubert
    49. "Writing is its own reward." Henry Miller
    50. "A blank piece of paper is God's way of telling us how hard it is to be God." Sidney Sheldon
    51. "I went for years not finishing anything. Because, of course, when you finish something you can be judged." Erica Jong
    52. "I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by." Douglas Adams
    53. "Half my life is an act of revision." John Irving
    54. "Get it down. Take chances. It may be bad, but it's the only way you can do anything really good." William Faulkner
    55. "Almost anyone can be an author; the business is to collect money and fame from this state of being." A. A. Milne
    56. "When you make music or write or create, it's really your job to have mind-blowing, irresponsible, condomless sex with whatever idea it is you're writing about at the time. " Lady Gaga
    57. “One kind word can change someone’s entire day.” Anonymous
    58. “Your words have power use them wisely.” Anonymous
    59. “The meaning behind the words, the feeling is more significant than the words themselves, so listen.” Anonymous
    60. “But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.” George Orwell
    61. “Your word is the power that you have to create; it is a gift.” Don Miguel Ruiz
    62. “Kind words do not cost much. Yet they accomplish much.” Blaise Pascal
    63. “There is a form of communication that transcends the power of words.” Joseph B. Wirthlin
    64. “There is something about words. In expert hands, manipulated deftly, they take you prisoner. Wind themselves around your limbs like spider silk, and when you are so enthralled you cannot move, they pierce your skin, enter your blood, numb your thoughts. Inside you they work their magic.” Diane Setterfield
    65. “Your words become your world.” Nadeem Kazi
    66. “Words are not in the power of men; men are in the power of words.” Herman Bahr
    67. “Think of the power of words.” Swami Vivekananda
    68. “The mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” Anonymous
    69. “She was fascinated with words. To her, words were things of beauty, each like a magical powder or potion that could be combined with other words to create powerful spells.” Dean Koontz
    70. “If people cannot write well, they cannot think well, and if they cannot think well, others will do their thinking for them.” George Orwell
    71. “May every word that is ever spoken bu our mouths be words that lift up, and never words that tear down.” Anonymous
    72. “Never underestimate the power of words to heal and reconcile relationships.” H. Jackson Brown
    73. “If you believe in the power of words, you can bring about physical changes in the universe.” H. Scott Momaday
    74. “Beautifully crafted words have the power to captivate the mind of anybody.” Sam Veda
    75. “He also knows the power of words.” Paulo Coelho
    76. “Words are powerful, they have the ability to create a moment and the strength to destroy it.” Anonymous
    77. “Your words carry amazing power. So when you speak make sure you uplift someone and never put them down.” Anonymous
    78. “Language creates reality. Words have power. Speak always to create joy.” Deepak Chopra
    79. “I am, by calling, a dealer in words; and words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.” Rudyard Kipling
    80. “Words have a magical power. They can either bring the greatest happiness or the deepest despair.” Sigmund Freud
    81. “Words create worlds.” Pierre du Plessis
    82. “Words have the power to both destroy and heal. When words are both true and kind, they can change our world.” Anonymous
    83. “I can feel the power of the words doing the work. Must trust language more.” Antony Sher
    84. “I am, two of the most powerful words. For what you put after them shapes your reality.” Joel Osteen
    85. “There is power in words. What you say is what you get.” Zig Ziglar
    86. “Be sure to taste your words before you spit them out.” Anonymous
    87. “Words have the power to make things happen.” Frederick Buechner
    88. “A few nice words can help a person a lot more than you think.” Anonymous
    89. “Words have power, words are power, words could be your power also.” Mohammed Qahtani
    90. “Better than a thousand hollow words is one word that brings peace.” Buddha
    91. “Let your words elevate your life to the heights of greatness.” ATGW
    92. “If we understood the power of our thoughts, we would guard them more closely. If we understood the awesome power of our words, we would prefer silence to almost anything negative. In our thoughts and words, we create our own weaknesses and our own strengths.” Betty Eadie
    93. “Words embody power to inspire or motivate us, but it is only we who have the power to open up to see and feel it.” Anuj Somany
    94. “Our words have creative power. With our words, we can speak blessings over our future.” Joel Osteen
    95. Bonus question (for mediocre overachievers) Do you think that other writers can tell you especially insightful facts about writing? Why or why not?
    96. Bonus question (for overachievers) Does the relative success of the writer make you more likely to believe the writer’s idea(s) expressed in the quotation?
    97. Bonus question (for overarching overachievers) Does the specific cultural situation lend itself to subtext? What else do you suss about what is going on in the quotation?
    98. Bonus question (for super overachievers) Is there a way to arrange these quotes in a hierarchy? Please demonstrate, illustrate, or otherwise portray this hierarchy.
    99. Bonus question (for mega super overachievers) Please explicate the process by which we comprehend an idea.

Just for Today

Take another look at any type of writing, drawing, or scrawling you may come across today. Note any subtextual information. Where was the writing? What kind of writing was used? What role did color play in the message? What other visual clues did you perceive? How did your eye feel about it? What else was communicated?

Thinking, writing, and talking about complex compositions all help us learn to think better, faster, and deeper. Photo by Alice Pasqual on Unsplash.
Thinking, writing, and talking about complex compositions all help us learn to think better, faster, and deeper. Photo by Alice Pasqual on Unsplash.

What Do You Think?

I believe reading what writers have written about writing is hokey-pooey.

See results

Buy a Timer, Overcome Performance Anxiety

We like the occasional bit of structure in our writing schedule. Sometimes we set a timer for 5-10 minutes, and use it to do writing drills. If you stick with it, many of your writing fears will evaporate in the clarity and purpose of writing drill sessions. Get the timer, select the quote, put the questions in front of you, and just write. Don't correct anything. Just write as many words as you can on your topic in your allotted time limit. Keep on until you are good at it. You'll be fearless!

Share Your Thoughts

I think it's important for a writer to read what other writers have written about writing.

See results

What Stephen King Thinks About It

Works Cited

Economy, Peter. "" n.d. Webpage. 31 July 2018.

"" n.d. Webpage. 31 July 2018.

"" n.d. Webpage. 31 July 2018.

"" 30 July 2018. Webpage. 30 July 2018.

Leibowitz, Glen. "" n.d. Webpage. 31 July 2018.

Do you know a quote about writing and/or words that isn’t on the list? Please kindly add your quote in the comments section.


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