50 Quotes Writing Prompt

There is always something to be learned from reading, whether the literary piece was written a hundred years ago or last Wednesday. Thus, I have compiled a list of my favourite quotes by classical and contemporary writers for inspiration.

  1. “I think it’s important to realize you can miss something but not want it back.” — Paulo Coelho
  2. “One day Bird had approached his father with this question; he was six years old: Father, where was I a hundred years before I was born? Where will I be a hundred years after I die? Father, what will happen to me when I die? Without a word, his young father had punched him in the mouth, broke two of his teeth and bloodied his face, and Bird forgot the fear of death.” — Kenzaburō Ōe
  3. “Between my finger and my thumb. The squat pen rests; snug as a gun.”
    Seamus Heaney
  4. “The process of writing has something infinite about it. Even though it is interrupted each night, it is one single notation.” — Elias Canetti
  5. “I wanted love to grow back, like the grass when it’s mowed down. To grow differently, if need be, like children’s teeth, like hair, like fingernails. To spring up at will, wild and untended.” — Herta Müller
  6. “What is honor compared to a woman’s love? What is duty against the feel of a newborn son in your arms . . . or the memory of a brother’s smile? Wind and words. Wind and words. We are only human, and the gods have fashioned us for love. That is our great glory, and our great tragedy.”
    George R.R. Martin
  7. “I was afraid of being afraid. I wounded the silence. The vast spaces sharpened my grief.” — Violette Leduc
  8. “With me, the present is forever, and forever is always shifting, flowing, melting. This second is life. And when it is gone it is dead. But you can’t start over with each new second. You have to judge by what is dead. It’s like quicksand…hopeless from the start.” — Sylvia Plath
  9. “I do not want people to be very agreeable, as it saves me the trouble of liking them a great deal.” — Jane Austen
  10. “A classic is a book that has never finished saying what it has to say.”
    Italo Calvino
  11. “Our imagination flies – we are its shadow on the earth.”
    Vladimir Nabokov
  12. “I believed that I was approaching the end of my days without having tasted to the full any of the pleasures for which my heart thirsted.”
    Jean-Jacques Rousseau
  13. “The 3 types of terror: The Gross-out: the sight of a severed head tumbling down a flight of stairs, it’s when the lights go out and something green and slimy splatters against your arm. The Horror: the unnatural, spiders the size of bears, the dead waking up and walking around, it’s when the lights go out and something with claws grabs you by the arm. And the last and worst one: Terror, when you come home and notice everything you own had been taken away and replaced by an exact substitute. It’s when the lights go out and you feel something behind you, you hear it, you feel its breath against your ear, but when you turn around, there’s nothing there.” — Stephen King
  14. “Doing nothing for others is the undoing of ourselves.” — Horace Mann
  15. “Only one solution presented itself. I went from chemist to chemist buying packets of paracetamol. I bought only a few packets at a time to avoid arousing suspicion – but I needn’t have worried. No one paid me the least attention; I was clearly as invisible as I felt. It was cold in my room, and my fingers were numb and clumsy as I tore open the packets. It took an immense effort to swallow all the tablets. But I forced them all down, pill after bitter pill. Then I crawled onto my uncomfortable narrow bed. I shut my eyes and waited for death. But death didn’t come. Instead a searing, gut-wrenching pain tore through my insides. I doubled up and vomited, throwing up bile and half-digested pills all over myself. I lay in the dark, a fire burning in my stomach for what seemed like eternity. And then, slowly, in the darkness, I realized something.  I didn’t want to die. Not yet; not when I  hadn’t lived. This gave me a kind of hope, however murky and ill defined. It propelled me at any rate to acknowledge that I couldn’t do this alone. I needed help.” — Alex Michaelides
  16. “Though I am not naturally honest, I am sometimes so by chance.”
    William Shakespeare
  17. “There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them.” — Joseph Brodsky
  18. “I’ve been very near death. And you can’t imagine the wild elation of those moments – it’s the sudden glimpse of the absurdity of life that brings it – when one meets death face to face.” — André Malraux
  19. “Love lights more fires than hate extinguishes.” — Ella Wheeler Wilcox
  20. “I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.” — James Baldwin
  21. “What a frightful weapon is human thought! It is our defense and our safeguard, the most precious gift that God has made us. It is ours and it obeys us; we may launch it forth into space, but, once outside of our feeble brains, it is gone; we can no longer control it.” — Alfred De Musset
  22. “Illness is the doctor to whom we pay most heed; to kindness, to knowledge, we make promises only; pain, we obey.” — Marcel Proust
  23. “We hear every day of murders committed in the country. Brutal and treacherous murders; slow, protracted agonies from poisons administered by some kindred hand; sudden and violent deaths by cruel blows, inflicted with a stake cut from some spreading oak, whose every shadow promised—peace. In the county of which I write, I have been shown a meadow in which, on a quiet summer Sunday evening, a young farmer murdered the girl who had loved and trusted him; and yet, even now, with the stain of that foul deed upon it, the aspect of the spot is—peace.”
    — Mary Elizabeth Braddon
  24. “They were dreamers—and they dreamt themselves into the cemetery.”
    Mary Elizabeth Braddon
  25. “Man suffers only because he takes seriously what the gods made for fun.”
    Alan Wilson Watts
  26. “If you know what you are going to write when you’re writing a poem, it’s going to be average.” — Derek Walcott
  27. “The writer probably knows what he meant when he wrote a book, but he should immediately forget what he meant when he’s written it.”
    William Golding
  28. “Nobody deserves your tears, but whoever deserves them will not make you cry.” — Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  29. “As the archaeology of our thought easily shows, man is an invention of recent date. And one perhaps nearing its end.” — Michel Foucault
  30. “Stop thinking, and end your problems. What difference between yes and no? What difference between success and failure? Must you value what others value, avoid what others avoid? How ridiculous! Other people are excited, as though they were at a parade. I alone don’t care, I alone am expressionless, like an infant before it can smile. Other people have what they need; I alone possess nothing. I alone drift about, like someone without a home. I am like an idiot, my mind is so empty. Other people are bright; I alone am dark. Other people are sharp; I alone am dull. Other people have purpose; I alone don’t know. I drift like a wave on the ocean, I blow as aimless as the wind.” — Lao-Tzu
  31. “Reading and sauntering and lounging and dosing, which I call thinking, is my supreme Happiness.” — David Hume
  32. “I don’t know why we are here, but I’m pretty sure that it is not in order to enjoy ourselves.” — Ludwig Wittgenstein
  33. “There are times when I am so unlike myself that I might be taken for someone else of an entirely opposite character.” — Jean-Jacques Rousseau
  34. “It is only practice that improves our minds as well as bodies, and we must expect nothing from our understandings any farther than they are perfected by habits.” — John Locke
  35. “The cliché that sea dry up and rocks rot away, but the heart never changes is nothing but a beautiful fantasy.” — Mo Yan
  36. “Everyday brought me further away from other people, I had been placed out of the world’s sight, as if in a cupboard, and I hoped it would stay that way.” — Herta Müller
  37. “If the urge to write should ever leave me, I want that day to be my last.”
    Naguib Mahfouz
  38. “We struck up a conversation, taking pains at first to give it an easy flow and sticking to the most frivolous topics. Did he, I asked, believe in predestination? He did. Did he believe that all men were doomed to die? Yes, he felt certain that all men would absolutely have to die, but he was less sure that all men had to be born.”
    Günter Wilhelm Grass
  39. “Life is a tragedy to those who feel and a comedy to those who think.”
    Molière
  40. “Death never takes the wise man by surprise; He is always ready to go.”
    Jean de La Fontaine
  41. “We’ll leave now, so that this moment will remain a perfect memory…let it be our song and think of me every time you hear it.” — Betty Smith
  42. “There is a certain part of all of us that lives outside of time.”
    Milan Kundera
  43. “There is a maxim that death is the number two fear that people have and public speaking is the first.” — Sidney Sheldon
  44. “Petting, scratching, and cuddling a dog could be as soothing to the mind and heart as deep meditation and almost as good for the soul as prayer.”
    Dean Koontz
  45. “When I listen to this music I feel like I’m in a wide-open, empty place. It’s a vast space, with nothing to close it off. No walls, no ceiling. I don’t need to think, don’t need to say anything. Just being there is enough. I close my eyes and give myself up to the beautiful strings. There’s no headaches, no sensitivity to cold, no periods, or ovulation. Everything is simply beautiful, peaceful, flowing. I can just be.”
    Haruki Murakami
  46. “I never again shall tell you what I think. I shall be sweet and crafty, soft and sly.” — Edna St. Vincent Millay
  47. “I thought surely you’d built a new life, with no room in it for me. I’d hoped that (…) My life is nothing but room for you. It could never be filled by anyone but you.” Kurt Vonnegut
  48. “I feel like I am floating in plasma I need a teacher or a lover I need someone to risk being involved with me. I am so vain and I am so masochistic. How can they coexist?” — Francesca Woodman
  49. “Some cry with tears; others with thoughts.” — Octavio Paz
  50. “I think spring is inside me. I feel spring awakening, I feel it in my entire body and soul. I have to force myself to act normally. I’m in a state of utter confusion, don’t know what to read, what to write, what to do. I only know that I’m longing for something.” — Anne Frank

Featured Image by S O C I A L . C U T

For more writing prompts, visit my blog. Send me a link to what you’ve written/created if any of these prompts inspire you. I’d love to read/see them!

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