Quote Origin: Read, Read, Read. Read Everything—Trash, Classics, Good and Bad, and See How They Do It

William Faulkner? Stephen King? R. M. Allen? Lavon Rascoe? Lauren Passell? Ben Yagoda? Anonymous? Question for Quote Investigator: A prominent novelist was once asked for advice by an aspiring author. The scribe offered the following crucial guidance: Read, read, read. Read everything. Highbrow, middlebrow, and lowbrow material were all deemed acceptable choices for scrutiny. Would …

I Do Not Know What I Think Until I Read What I’m Writing

Flannery O’Connor? Graham Wallas? E. M. Forster? Inger Stevens? August Heckscher? Paul Samuelson? Shirley MacLaine? Joan Didion? E. L. Doctorow? John Gregory Dunne? Edward Albee? Wendy Wasserstein? William Faulkner? Virginia Hamilton Adair? Stephen King? Question for Quote Investigator: The process of writing helps to clarify thoughts and ideas. For example, some novelists do not outline …

Inspiration Is for Amateurs—The Rest of Us Just Show Up and Get To Work

Chuck Close? Stephen King? Philip Roth? Harvey Mackay? Mark Twain? Charles Schulz? Rosalyn Drexler? John Barkham? Nocona Burgess? Jill Elaine Hughes? Dear Quote Investigator: An artist must wait patiently for inspiration to occur according to a romanticized depiction of creativity. Yet, a successful professional artist offered the following contrary viewpoint: Inspiration is for amateurs. The …

I Have the Heart of a Small Boy

Stephen King? Robert Bloch? Bennett Cerf? Gahan Wilson? Dear Quote Investigator: A famous horror writer employed a comically gruesome paraprosdokian when discussing temperament. There are many phrasings for this quip. Here is one: I have the heart of a child. I keep it in a jar on my desk. This joke has been attributed to …

Talent Is a Dreadfully Cheap Commodity, Cheaper Than Table Salt

Stephen King? Apocryphal? Dear Quote Investigator: Years ago the famous horror writer Stephen King was discussing how to become a successful artist, and he employed vivid figurative language that I can still recall. He indicated that talent was as common and cheap as table salt. His bracing insight was that success required great effort combined …

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