Writing Tips & Quotes


“Look long and hard at the things that give you pleasure…even longer and harder at the things that give you pain.  Give things time to settle before you write about them.  A novel about love cannot be written while making love.”  —Colette

LL graphics Colette1

(Graphic by Nava Atlas, author of
The Literary Ladies’ Guide to the Writing Life)


It has been said that Flannery O’Connor went to her writing table every morning.  She said, “It’s not that I always write well, but when inspiration strikes I’m ready for it!”


“Expressing [a difficult experience] in language robs the event of its power to hurt us; it also assuages our pain.”  And by expressing ourselves in language, we are able to create order from seeming randomness or chaos.  “It enables us to discover the wholeness of things, the connectedness of human experience.  We understand that our greatest shocks do not separate us from humankind.  Instead, through expressing ourselves, we establish our connection with others and with the world.”Louise De Salvo

View from window at Summer Retreat

(Photograph by Mark Chimsky)

Mark’s thoughts on writing…

Writing is not about “perfection.”  There is no such thing.  But if your work touches other people’s hearts and minds, then you’ve done your job.

Writing is about rewriting.  Your first draft is to get words down on paper.  Then your real work begins.

Writers need a good first reader, someone they can trust to tell them what’s working and what’s not.  A writer loses perspective the minute he or she begins to truly write.


“The writer who loses his self-doubt…should stop writing immediately; the time has come for him to lay aside his pen.”

LL Graphics Woolf1

(Graphic by Nava Atlas, author of
The Literary Ladies’ Guide to the Writing Life)


“I did for myself what psychoanalysts do for their patients.  I expressed some very long and deeply felt emotion.  And in expressing it, I explained it and then laid it to rest.” — Virginia Woolf, on her writing process

“I am the only one who can tell the story of my life and say what it means.” –Dorothy Allison

“Give sorrow words.”Shakespeare

“[Writing] is an agent of transformation.” – Lewis Hyde

“The only way through pain…is to absorb, probe, understand exactly what it is and what it means.  To close the door on pain is to miss the chance for growth.” – May Sarton