Rita Emmett
Author of
THE PROCRASTINATOR'S HANDBOOK,
  THE PROCRASTINATING CHILD
and soon-to-be-published
THE CLUTTER-BUSTING HANDBOOK
 

 

Quotation Quarters



EMMETT'S LAW: The dread of doing a task uses up more time and energy than doing the task itself. --- Rita Emmett, The Procrastinator’s Handbook

Writing is easy, you just stare at the paper until little drops of blood appear on your forehead. --- Ring Lardner, Jr.

A good writer is not, per se, a good book critic. No more than a good drunk is automatically a good bartender. ---Jim Bishop

Many years ago, when I was just about as complete a failure as one can become, I began to spend a good deal of time in libraries, looking for some answers….I found all the answers I needed in that golden vein of ore that every library has. --- Og Mandino

A manuscript not submitted is a book not published. ---Dan Poynter

I have heard a thousand masterpieces talked out over bars, restaurant tables and loveseats. I have never seen one of them in print. Books must be written, not talked. --- Morris L. West

Planning to write is not writing. Outlining … researching … talking to people about what you’re going to write, none of that is writing. Writing is writing.
--- E. L. Doctorow

A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit. --- Richard Back

Find something only you can write. --- James Dickey

When I am writing I am doing the thing I was meant to do. --- Anne Sexton

I have forced myself to begin writing when I’ve been utterly exhausted, when I’ve felt my soul as thin as a playing card; when nothing has seemed worth enduring for another five minutes … and somehow the activity of writing changes everything. --- Joyce Carol Oates

I have yet to see a piece of writing, political or non-political, that doesn't have a slant. All writing slants the way a writer leans, and no man is born perpendicular, although many men are born upright. --- E.B.White

It is safe to assume that every writer has read every word of every review, and will never forgive you. --- John Leonard

If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are gone, either write things worth reading or do things worth writing. --- Benjamin Franklin

To write well, you must be able to think well. And therein lies the problem . . .
--- Alan Weiss

A writer lives in awe of words, for they can be cruel or kind, and they can change their meanings right in front of you. They pick up flavors and odors like butter in a refrigerator. --- John Steinbeck

There’s no money in poetry, but then there’s no poetry in money either.
--- Robert Graves

By writing, you learn to write. --- Samuel Johnson

Never correct or rewrite until the whole thing is down. Rewriting in process is usually found to be an excuse for not going on. --- John Steinback

If writers were good businessmen, they’d have too much sense to be writers.
--- Irvin S. Cobb

A book is a mirror; if an ass peers into it, you can’t expect an apostle to peer out. --- Georg Christoph Lichtenberg

Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is to always try just one more time. --- Thomas Edison

Writing a book is an adventure. To begin with, it is a toy and an amusement. Then it becomes a mistress, then it becomes a master, then it becomes a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster, and fling him to the public. --- Winston Churchill

EMMETT'S SECOND LAW: Perfection is the downfall of procrastinators. Strive for Excellence – it’s achievable; perfection seldom is.
--- Rita Emmett, The Procrastinator’s Handbook

I write when I’m inspired, and I see to it that I’m inspired at nine o’clock every morning. --- Peter De Vries

A self-published book is like a home cooked meal. The creator thinks its nirvana, but no one is mistaking you for a restaurant. --- Alan Weiss

Write what you love and love what you write. --- Dan Poynter

The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter—’tis the difference between the lightning bug and lightning.
--- Mark Twain

Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.
--- The Bible: Proverbs 16:24

In books, it is the chief of all perfections to be plain and brief. --- Samuel Butler

There is probably no hell for authors in the next world – they suffer so much from critics and publishers in this one. --- Christian N. Bovée

Write a thousand words a day. That’s only about four pages, but force yourself to do it. Put your finger down your throat and throw up. That’s what writing’s all about. --- Ray Bradbury

Put down everything that comes into your head and then you’re a writer. But an author is one who can judge his own stuff’s worth, without pity, and destroy most of it. --- Colette

I make it a rule not to clutter my mind with simple information that I can find in a book in five minutes. --- Albert Einstein

What refuge is there for the victim who is oppressed with the knowledge that there are a thousand new books he ought to read, while life is only long enough for him to attempt to read a hundred? --- Oliver Wendell Holmes

When you begin a paragraph and, before you know it, you’ve finished an article or a chapter, you’ve met a writer. --- Alan Weiss

Authors in general are stark mad on the subject of their own works. --- A.R. Lesage

What I like in a good author is not what he says, but what he whispers.
--- Logan Pearsall Smith

The two most engaging powers of an author are to make new things familiar, and familiar things new. --- William Makepeace Thackeray

A book is a garden, an orchard, a storehouse, a party, a company by the way, a counsellor, a multitude of counsellors. --- Henry Ward Beecher

When I am dead, I hope it may be said:
“His sins were scarlet, but his books were read”.
--- Hilaire Belloc

Among the many inventions of man, the book, without a doubt, is the most astounding … Only the book is an extension of our imagination and memory.
--- Jorge Luis Borges

My books are my tools, and the greater their variety and perfection, the greater the help to my literary work. --- Tryon Edwards

Women are by nature fickle, and so are men … Not so with books, for books cannot change. A thousand years hence they are what you find them today, speaking the same words, holding forth the same comfort. --- Eugene Field

It is a mistake to think that books have come to stay. The human race did without them for thousands of years and may decide to do without them again.
--- E.M. Forster

Never lend books, for no one ever returns them; the only books I have in my library are books that other folks have lent me. --- Anatole France

The foolishest book is a kind of leaky boat on a sea of wisdom; some of the wisdom will get in anyhow. --- Oliver Wendell Holmes

Books are the one element in which I am personally and nakedly acquisitive. If it weren’t for the law I would steal them. If it weren’t for my purse I would buy them.
--- Harold Laski

Books are lighthouses erected in the great sea of time. --- E.P. Whipple

Your manuscript is both good and original; but the parts that are good are not original, and the parts that are original are not good. --- Samuel Johnson

From the moment I picked up your book until I laid it down I was convulsed with laughter. Someday I intend reading it. --- Groucho Marx

Asking a working writer what he thinks about critics is like asking a lamppost what it feels about dogs. --- John Osborne

This is not a novel to be tossed lightly aside. It should be thrown with great force.
--- Dorothy Parker

I am sitting in the smallest room in my house. I have your review in front of me. Soon it will be behind me. --- Max Reger

An editor should tell the author his writing is a little better than it is. Not a lot better, a little better. --- T.S. Eliot

Manuscript: something submitted in haste and returned at leisure.
--- Oliver Herford

For several days after my first book was published I carried it about in my pocket, and took surreptitious peeps at it to make sure the ink had not faded.
--- James M. Barrie

Publishers are all cohorts of the devil; there must be a special hell for them somewhere. --- Johann von Goethe

A person who publishes a book appears willfully in public with his pants down.
--- Edna St. Vincent Millay

It is not wise to solicit the opinions of publishers – they become proud if you do.
--- Gore Vidal

There’s a great power in words, if you don’t hitch too many of them together.
--- Josh Billings

Avoid a strange and unfamiliar word as you would a dangerous reef.
--- Julius Caesar

The constant use of long, involved words proves two things: 1) that you're learned, and 2) that you're ignorant of how best to communicate with people.
--- Will Conway

To speak of ‘mere words’ is much like speaking of ‘mere dynamite’.
--- C.J. Ducasse

When you doubt between words, use the plainest, the commonest, the most idiomatic. Avoid big words as you would rouge, and love simple ones as you would native roses in your cheek. --- August W. Hare

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

Words are such a playground! --- Maureen Herring

Writers should make effective use of their most valuable asset: their time.
--- Dan Poynter

The most valuable talent is that of never using two words when one will do.
--- Thomas Jefferson

Do not accustom yourself to use big words for little matters. --- Samuel Johnson

Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.
--- Rudyard Kipling

Modern English is full of bad habits which spread by imitation and which can be avoided if one is willing to take the necessary trouble. --- George Orwell

Words are … the most powerful narcotic, the most potent stimulant, the most remarkable hallucinogen ever devised. Words teach, they sing, they hurt, they sanctify. They also degrade, inflame, mislead and—lie … Words also infect people with a rage to parrot. Every new vogue in verbiage becomes a stampede. --- Leo Rosten

Be brief; for it is with words as with sunbeams. The more they are condensed, the deeper they burn. --- Robert Southey

Words should be an intense pleasure just as leather should be to a shoemaker.
--- Evelyn Waugh

Words are an albatross to a writer – heavy, hopeless, fateful things. One writes to make words mean something new. --- Joy Williams

I never said writing your book would be easy. I only promised it would be worth it. --- Dan Poynter

What’s in a word? Consider the difference between ‘wise man’ and ‘wise guy’.
---- Anonymous

I write with experiences in mind, but I don’t write about them, I write out of them.
--- John Ashberry

At this time, I had decided the only thing I was fit for was to be a writer, and this notion rested solely on my suspicion that I would never be fit for real work, and that writing didn’t require any. --- Russell Baker

It is by sitting down to write every morning that one becomes a writer. Those who do not do this remain amateurs. --- Gerald Brenan

You must remember that a writer is a simple-minded person to begin with and go on that basis. he’s not a great mind, he’s not a great thinker, he’s not a great philosopher, he’s a storyteller. --- Erskine Caldwell

There is only one trait that marks the writer. He is always watching. It's a kind of trick of the mind and he is born with it. --- Morley Callaghan

I am convinced that all writers are optimists whether they concede the point or not . . . How otherwise could any human being sit down to a pile of blank sheets and decide to write, say two hundred thousand words on a given theme?
---Thomas B. Costain

In America only the successful writer is important, in France all writers are important, in England no writer is important, in Australia you have to explain what a writer is. --- Geoffrey Cotterell

The most original thing a writer can do is write like himself. It is also his most difficult task. --- Robertson Davies

The way I see it, every one of us in the writing business starts off with precisely the same tools, the 26 letters of the alphabet. All we can do is try to arrange those 26 letters in a different way than anyone else has before. --- Bob Greene

They’re fancy talkers about themselves, writers. If I had to give young writers advice, I would say don’t listen to writers. --- Lillian Hellman

We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.
--- Ernest Hemingway

Books are ships which pass through the vast seas of time. --- Francis Bacon

All words are pegs to hang ideas on. --- Henry Ward Beecher

The whole duty of a writer is to please and satisfy himself, and the true writer always plays to an audience of one. --- E.B. White

Money to a writer is time to write. --- Frank Herbert

A good many young writers make the mistake of enclosing a stamped, self-addressed envelope, big enough for the manuscript to come back in. That is too much of a temptation to the editor. --- Ring Lardner

A book is a friend; a good book is a good friend. It will talk to you when you want it to talk, and it will keep still when you want it to keep still--and there are not many who know enough to do that. A library is a collection of friends.
----Lyman Abbott

Books are the legacies that a great genius leaves to mankind, which are delivered down from generation to generation, as presents to the posterity of those who are yet unborn. --- Joseph Addison

Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested. --- Francis Bacon

Where is human nature so weak as in the bookstore? --- Henry Ward Beecher

The publisher is a middleman, he calls the tune to which the whole of the rest of the trade dances; and he does so because he pays the piper. ---- Geoffrey Faber

The dubious privilege of a freelance writer is he's given the freedom to starve anywhere. --- S.J. Perelman

The wastebasket is a writer's best friend. --- Isaac Bashevis Singer

The poor writers we have always with us--if we take the daily paper.
--- Elbert Hubbard

Broadly speaking, the short words are the best, and the old words best of all.
--- Winston Churchill

The difference between prose and poetry is that prose is written all the way across the page, and poetry is written only half way across.
--- Laura Glover

Writing is the only profession where no one considers you ridiculous if you earn no money. ---Jules Renard

Sir, no man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money. --- Samuel Johnson

Words are vehicles that can transport us from the drab sands to the dazzling stars. --- M. Robert Syme

In utter loneliness a writer tries to explain the inexplicable. ---John Steinbeck

When my parents taught me not to write in books, they did not know they were raising an author who would autograph them. --- Dan Poynter

It is difficult to tell how much men’s minds are conciliated by a kind manner and gentle speech. --- Cicero

Pithy sentences are like sharp nails which force truth upon our memory.
--- Denis Diderot

Gentle words, quiet words, are, after all, the most powerful words. They are more convincing, more compelling, more prevailing. --- Washington Gladden

Every writer must acknowledge, and be able to handle the unalterable fact that he has, in effect, given himself a life sentence in solitary confinement. --- Peter Straub

Some reviews give pain. That is regrettable, but no author has the right to whine. He was not obliged to be an author. He invited publicity, and he must take the publicity that comes along. --- E.M. Forster

The beginning writer needs talent, application and aspirin. If he wants to write just to make money, he is not a writer. --- James Thurber

I publish a piece in order to kill it, so that I won't have to fool around with it any longer. --- William Gass

Most editors generally can't recognize bad writing when they read it. Nor do they try very hard to learn to recognize it. --- Alfred Knopf

Writing is nothing more than a guided dream. --- Jorge Luis Borges

Looking back, I imagine I was always writing. Twaddle it was too. But better far to write twaddle or anything, anything, than nothing at all. --- Katherine Mansfield

If you want to get rich from writing, write the sort of thing that's read by people who move their lips when they're reading to themselves. --- Don Marquis

Why do people always expect authors to answer questions? I am an author because I want to ask questions. If I had answers I'd be a politician. --- Eugene Ionesco

You do not really believe Lee Iacocca wrote those two bestsellers all by himself do you? Lee Iacocca is the author but he is not the writer. Most celebrities do not have time to write books. --- Dan Poynter

Every writer, by the way he uses the language, reveals something of his spirit, his habits, his capacities, his bias….Avoid the elaborate, the pretentious, the coy, and the cute. Do not be tempted by a twenty-dollar word when there is a ten-center handy, ready and able. ---- William Strunk, Jr./E.B. White

Most writers are in a state of gloom a good deal of the time; they need perpetual reassurance. --- John Hall Wheelock

It has been said that writing comes more easily if you have something to say.
--- Sholem Asch

He that will write well in any tongue must follow this counsel of Aristotle: to speak as the common people do, to think as wise men do. --- Roger Ascham

Writing is an apprenticeship that leads to soul, to Self. It involves digging deeply into territory which we keep hidden, not only from others, but even more dangerously from ourselves. --- Catherine Bauer

All our words will be useless unless they come from within – words which do not give the light of Christ increase the darkness. --- Mother Teresa

Treat it as a job – not a mystical calling. Then you’ll get up every morning and go “to work,” instead of waiting for the muse to attend you. --- Jean Brody

An author departs; he does not die. --- Dinah Maria Mulock

A blessed companion is a book – a book that fitly chosen is a lifelong friend.
---- Dougles Jerrold

A house without books is like a home without windows. --- Horace Mann

Nature fits all her children with something to do;
He who would write but can’t write, can surely review.
--- James Russell Lowell

Reviewing has one advantage over suicide: in suicide you take it out of yourself; in reviewing you take it out of other people. --- George Bernard Shaw

No possession can surpass or even equal a good library. --- J.A. Lankford

While an author is yet living, we estimate his powers by his worst performance; and when he is dead, we rate him by his best. --- Samuel Johnson

When audiences come to see us authors lecture, it is largely in the hope that we'll be funnier to look at than to read. --- Sinclair Lewis

I write in order to attain that feeling of tension relieved and function achieved which a cow enjoys on giving milk. --- H. L. Mencken

Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. --- George Orwell

Words form the threads on which we string our experiences.
----Aldous Huxley

Oh, words are action enough, if they're the right words. --- D.H. Lawrence

Apt words have power to assuage the tumors of a troubled mind.
--- John Milton

The secret of popular writing is never to put more on a given page than the common reader can lap off it with no strain whatsoever on his habitually slack attention. --- Ezra Pound

Whatever may be our natural talents, the art of writing is not acquired all at once. --- Jean Jacques Rousseau

You can't wait for inspiration, you have to go after it with a club. An absolutely necessary part of a writer's equipment, almost as necessary as talent, is the ability to stand up under punishment, both the punishment the world hands out and the punishment he inflicts on himself. --- Irwin Shaw

Long sentences in a short composition are like large rooms in a little house. --- William Shenstone

Writing is not a profession, but a vocation of unhappiness.
--- Georges Simenon

As to the Adjective: when in doubt, strike it out. --- Mark Twain

Writing doesn't require drive. It's like saying a chicken has to have drive to lay an egg. --- John Updike

Unless he has a genuine sympathy with the author's problems, no one can hope to make an enduring success of publishing. --- Michael Joseph

If you force yourself to think clearly you will write clearly. It's as simple as that. The hard part isn't the writing; the hard part is the thinking. --- William Zinsser

It's not a college degree that makes a writer. The great thing is to have a story to tell. --- Polly Adler

The discipline of the writer is to learn to be still and listen to what his subject has to tell him. --- Rachel Carson

Most of the basic material a writer works with is acquired before the age of fifteen. --- Willa Cather

Writers become idiotic under flattery sooner than any other set of people in the world. --- Frank Moore Colby

It is the writer's privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart.
--- William Faulkner

There is no denying the fact that writers should be read but not seen. Rarely are they a winsome sight. --- Edna Ferber

Great writers leave us not just their works, but a way of looking at things.
--- Elizabeth Janeway

Family, friends, and society are the natural enemies of a writer. He must be alone, uninterrupted, and slightly savage if he is to sustain and complete an undertaking. --- Lawrence Clark Powell

Write on a subject you love. Your profit center should also be your passion center. --- Dan Poynter

When you sell a man a book, you don't sell him 12 ounces of paper and ink and glue--you sell him a whole new life. --- Christopher Morley
It took me fifteen years to discover I had no talent for writing, but couldn't give it up because by that time I was too famous. --- Robert Benchley

The person who never makes a mistake probably isn’t doing anything.
--- Rita Emmett, The Procrastinator’s Handbook

 

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