21 Inspiring Quotes for a First-Time Nonfiction Writer

by Bennett R. Coles

Quotes for a Writer

Writing can be a lonely process when you’re a first-time author, before you’ve developed a network of mentors and peers who can guide you and support you along the sometimes choppy waters of nonfiction writing.

The following 21 quotes from established writers and luminaries of both the nonfiction and fiction worlds will offer you sound advice, give a boost to your motivation and present you with a gem of wisdom or two.

21 Inspiring Quotes for a First-Time Nonfiction Writer:

“Kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.”

Stephen King

“If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.”

Elmore Leonard

“The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.”

Thomas Jefferson

“Words are a lens to focus one’s mind.”

Ayn Rand

“Half my life is an act of revision.”

John Irving

“As a writer, you should not judge, you should understand.”

Ernest Hemingway

“I write to discover what I know.”

Flannery O’Connor

“I kept always two books in my pocket, one to read, one to write in.”

Robert Louis Stevenson

“Writing nonfiction means I tell people’s stories for them, not because they’re special but because we all are.”

Jo Deurbrouck

“I still believe nonfiction is the most important literature to come out of the second half of the 20th century.”

Tom Wolfe

“Great brands and great businesses have to be great storytellers, too. We have to tell stories – emotive, compelling stories – and even more so because we’re nonfiction.”

Angela Ahrendts

“There is no longer any such thing as fiction or nonfiction; there’s only narrative.”

E. L. Doctorow

“I went for years not finishing anything. Because, of course, when you finish something you can be judged.”

Erica Jong

“Writing nonfiction is more like sculpture, a matter of shaping the research into the finished thing.”

Joan Didion

“Ironically, in today’s marketplace successful nonfiction has to be unbelievable, while successful fiction must be believable.”

Jerry B. Jenkins

“One of underestimated tasks in nonfiction writing is to impose narrative shape on an unwieldy mass of material.”

William Zinsser

The challenge of nonfiction is to marry art and truth.”

Phyllis Rose

“When you deal with nonfiction you deal with human characters.”

Marya Hornbacher

“Every successful piece of nonfiction should leave the reader with one provocative thought that he or she didn’t have before. Not two thoughts, or five – just one. So decide what single point you want to leave in the reader’s mind.”

William Zinsser

“With nonfiction, I go in trying to be really honest about what my preconceptions are.”

George Saunders

“Write a nonfiction book, and be prepared for the legion of readers who are going to doubt your fact. But write a novel, and get ready for the world to assume every word is true.”

Barbara Kingsolver

If you enjoyed this article and are in the process of writing a nonfiction book, be sure to check out my free nonfiction success guide, drawn from years of experience editing books for bestselling authors (including a New York Times bestseller) and ghostwriting for CEOs and politicians. Simply click here and get instant access.

Best of luck with your writing project!


Leave me a comment below if you have any questions or a specific need that I can help you address – I operate an author services firm that specializes in helping entrepreneurs, professionals and business owners who want to publish books as a calling card for prospects, to establish their status as an expert or to just to generate additional leads for their businesses.

Here are some related posts I highly recommend:

How to Write a Compelling Book in 12 Steps: A Must-Read Guide for Nonfiction Authors

How to Grow Your Business Writing a Nonfiction Book

Write Your Own Book and Become an Expert: 11 Reasons Why You Should

Bennett R. Coles is an award-winning author of six books published through Harper Collins (New York) and Titan Publishing Group (London). He is also the publisher at Promontory Press, editor for multiple bestselling authors (including a NY Times bestseller), ghostwriter for CEOs and politicians and the founder of Cascadia Author Services, a boutique full-service firm that specializes in premium author services specifically designed for busy professionals. Our end-to-end services include writer coaching, ghostwriting, editing, proofing, cover design, book layout, eBook production, marketing, printing and distribution.

One response to “21 Inspiring Quotes for a First-Time Nonfiction Writer”

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    Hi Bennett

    Absolutely fantastic list of quotes. I could relate to one or two but found most an insightful journey into the minds of the greats.

    Thanks for posting


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