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"God governs in the affairs of men." Benjamin Franklin

...and a star to steer her by

Business Coaching, much more than just consulting

Fine Focus is: Others have said...

"You must learn from the mistakes of others. You can't possibly live long enough to make them all yourself." - Sam Levenson (1911 - 1980)

"Others Have Said On Writing..."

  • "The whole duty of a writer is to please and satisfy himself, and the true writer always plays to an audience of one. Let him start sniffing the air, or glancing, at the Trend Machine, and he is as good as dead, although he may make a nice living." - E.B. White
  • "Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body." - Proverbs 16:24

  • "My work is not a piece of writing designed to meet the needs of an immediate public, but was done to last for ever." - Thucydides
  • "Ignorance is bold, and knowledge is reserved" - Thucydides
  • "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough" - Albert Einstein
  • "Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler." - Albert Einstein
  • "Write hard and clear about what hurts. " - Ernest Hemingway
  • "There is no rule on how to write. Sometimes it comes easily and perfectly; sometimes it's like drilling rock and then blasting it out with charges." - Ernest Hemingway
  • "If a writer stops observing he is finished. Experience is communicated by small details intimately observed." - Ernest Hemingway
  • "The most solid advice for a writer is this, I think: Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell. And when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough." - Ernest Hemingway
  • "Remember to get the weather in your damn book--weather is very important." - Ernest Hemingway
  • "Good writing is good conversation, only more so." - Ernest Hemingway
  • "it is all very well for you to write simply and the simpler the better. But do not start to think so damned simply. Know how complicated it is and then state it simply." - Ernest Hemingway
  • "I always try to write on the principle of the iceberg. There is seven-eighths of it underwater for every part that shows." - Ernest Hemingway
  • "For a long time now I have tried simply to write the best I can. Sometimes I have good luck and write better than I can." - Ernest Hemingway
  • "It's harder to write in the third person but the advantage is you move around better." - Ernest Hemingway
  • "What difference does it make if you live in a picturesque little outhouse surrounded by 300 feeble minded goats and your faithful dog? The question is: Can you write?" - Ernest Hemingway
  • "I write one page of masterpiece to ninety-one pages of shit. I try to put the shit in the wastebasket." - Ernest Hemingway
  • "Once writing has become your major vice and greatest pleasure only death can stop it." - Ernest Hemingway
  • "There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed." - Ernest Hemingway
  • "There is no friend as loyal as a book." - Ernest Hemingway
  • "Write drunk; edit sober." - Ernest Hemingway
  • "All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened and after you are finished reading one you will feel that all that happened to you and afterwards it all belongs to you: the good and the bad, the ecstasy, the remorse and sorrow, the people and the places and how the weather was. If you can get so that you can give that to people, then you are a writer." - Ernest Hemingway
  • "All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know." - Ernest Hemingway
  • "My aim is to put down on paper what I see and what I feel in the best and simplest way." - Ernest Hemingway
  • "The hard part about writing a novel is finishing it." - Ernest Hemingway
  • "In order to write about life first you must live it." - Ernest Hemingway
  • "The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shockproof, shit detector." - Ernest Hemingway
  • "All my life I've looked at words as though I were seeing them for the first time." - Ernest Hemingway
  • "Quantity produces quality. If you only write a few things, you're doomed." - Ray Bradbury
  • "When you do a thing, do it with all your might. Put your whole soul into it. Stamp it with your own personality. Be active, be energetic and faithful, and you will accomplish your object." - Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • "Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass." - Anton Chekhov
  • "Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech, which you are used to seeing in print." - George Orwell
  • "I try to leave out the parts that people skip." - Elmore Leonard
  • "Always prefer the plain, direct word to the long, vague one." - C.S. Lewis
  • "No matter how wonderful a sentence is, if it doesn't add new and useful information, it should be removed." - Kurt Vonnegut
  • "The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug." - Mark Twain
  • "Don't be intimidated by the vastness of your audience. Imagine you are writing to a single reader. I have found it helps to pick out one real person I know and write to that person." - John Steinbeck
  • "I owe my success to having listened respectfully to the very best advice, and then going away and doing the exact opposite." - G.K. Chesterton
  • "I write as straight as I can, just as I walk as straight as I can, because that is the best way to get there." - H.G. Wells
  • "Don't use words too big for the subject. Don't say 'infinitely' when you mean 'very'; otherwise you'll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite." - C.S Lewis
  • "A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one." - George R.R. Martin
  • "Show me the books you read, and I'll show you who you are." - Unknown
  • "For all I know, writing comes out of a superior devotion to reading." - Eudora Welty
  • "These are not books, lumps of lifeless paper, but minds alive on the shelves." - Gilbert Highet
  • "We don't need lists of rights and wrongs, tables of dos and don'ts; we need books, time, and silence. Thou shalt not is soon forgotten, but Once upon a time lasts forever." - Philip Pullman
  • "The walls of books around him, dense with the past, formed a kind of insulation against the present world and its disasters." - Ross McDonald
  • "Never judge a book by its movie." — Unknown
  • "A man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them." - Mark Twain
  • "If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that." - Stephen King
  • "Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers." - Charles William Eliot
  • "Start clean and simple. Don't try to write pretty or noble or big. Try to say just what you mean. This is hard because you have to find out what you mean, and that's work, real work." - Gertrude Stein
  • "Read great authors but don't write to be great. Write to create, to inhabit a world you can grow into." - Perie Longo
  • "Rewriting separates the grownups from those who prefer wandering in the wilderness." - S.L. (Sid) Stebel
  • "All writing is difficult. The most you can hope for is a day when it goes reasonably easily. Plumbers don't get plumber's block, and doctors don't get doctor's block; why should writers have the only profession that gives a special name to the difficulty of working, and then expect sympathy." - Philip Pullman
  • "More than half, maybe as much as two-thirds of my life as a writer is rewriting. I wouldn't say I have a talent that's special. It strikes me that I have an unusual kind of stamina." - John Irving
  • "My aim is to put down on paper what I see and what I feel in the best and simplest way." - Ernest Hemingway
  • "Next to acquiring good friends, the best acquisition is that of good books." - Charles Caleb Colton
  • "The more a man writes, the more he can write." - William Hazlitt
  • "Speak clearly, if you speak at all; carve every word, before you let it fall," - Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
  • "Learning to write is learning to think. You don't know anything clearly unless you can state it in writing" – S. I. Hayakawa
  • "The road to hell is paved with adverbs." - Stephen King
  • "When you stack up all the years we are allowed against all there is to read, time is very short indeed. - Stephen King
  • 'What is written without effort is in general read without pleasure' - Samuel Johnson
  • "Two hours of writing fiction leaves this writer completely drained. For those two hours he has been in a different place with totally different people." - Roald Dahl
  • "Talent is helpful in writing, but guts are absolutely essential." - Jessamyn West
  • "If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced." - Vincent Van Gogh
  • "Man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good is it!" - Proverbs 15:23
  • "A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper." - E.B. White
  • "Life does not consist mainly, or even largely, of facts and happenings. It consists mainly of the storm of thought that is forever flowing through one's head." - Mark Twain
  • "Nothing is more satisfying than to write a good sentence. It is no fun to write lumpishly, dully, in prose the reader must plod through like wet sand. But it is a pleasure to achieve, if one can, a clear running prose that is simple yet full of surprises. This does not just happen. It requires skill, hard work, a good ear, and continued practice." - Barbara Tuchman
  • "You can't say, I won't write today because that excuse will extend into several days, then several months, then... you are not a writer anymore, just someone who dreams about being a writer." - Dorothy C. Fontana
  • "When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes" - Erasmus
  • "It is a tale told by an idiot, Full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing." - MacBeth
  • "Don't labor for the admiration of the crowd, but be content with a few choice readers." - Horace
  • "If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There's no way around these two things that I'm aware of, no shortcut." - Stephen King
  • "There is no rule on how to write. Sometimes it comes easily and perfectly; sometimes it's like drilling rock and then blasting it out with charges." - Hemingway
  • "It is with words as with sunbeams, the more they are condensed, the deeper they burn." - Robert Southey
  • "Oh it is only a novel . . . In short, only some work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed, in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and humour, are conveyed to the world in the best chosen language." - Jane Austen
  • "I have been correcting the proofs of my poems. In the morning, after hard work, I took a comma out of one sentence ... In the afternoon I put it back again." – Oscar Wilde
  • "How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live." - Henry David Thoreau
  • "After all, shedding light on things is what we writers do, right?" - Moira Allen
  • "You must have a room, or a certain hour or so a day, where you don't know what was in the newspapers that morning, you don't know who your friends are, you don't know what you owe anybody, you don't know what anybody owes to you. This is a place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be. This is the place of creative incubation. At first you may find that nothing happens there. But if you have a sacred place and use it, something eventually will happen." - Joseph Campbell
  • "Omit needless words. Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts." -William Strunk, Jr.
  • "I write entirely to find out what I'm thinking, what I'm looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear." - Joan Didion
  • "Write without pay until somebody offers to pay you. If nobody offers within three years, sawing wood is what you were intended for." - Mark Twain
  • "Don't dash off a six-thousand-word story before breakfast. Don't write too much. Concentrate your sweat on one story, rather than dissipate it over a dozen.

    Don't loaf and invite inspiration; light out after it with a club, and if you don't get it you will none the less get something that looks remarkably like it.

    Set yourself a "stint," [London wrote 1,000 words nearly every day of his adult life] and see that you do that "stint" each day; you will have more words to your credit at the end of the year.

    Study the tricks of the writers who have arrived. They have mastered the tools with which you are cutting your fingers. They are doing things, and their work bears the internal evidence of how it is done. Don't wait for some good Samaritan to tell you, but dig it out for yourself.

    See that your pores are open and your digestion is good. That is, I am confident, the most important rule of all.

    Keep a notebook. Travel with it, eat with it, sleep with it. Slap into it every stray thought that flutters up into your brain. Cheap paper is less perishable than gray matter, and lead pencil markings endure longer than memory.

    And work. Spell it in capital letters. WORK. WORK all the time. Find out about this earth, this universe; this force and matter, and the spirit that glimmers up through force and matter from the maggot to Godhead.

    And by all this I mean WORK for a philosophy of life. It does not hurt how wrong your philosophy of life may be, so long as you have one and have it well.

    The three great things are: GOOD HEALTH; WORK; and a PHILOSOPHY OF LIFE.

    I may add, nay, must add, a fourth—SINCERITY. Without this, the other three are without avail; with it you may cleave to greatness and sit among the giants."

    - Jack London

  • A poem...

    "Thoughts are free, who can guess them?
    They flee by like nocturnal shadows.
    No man can know them, no hunter can shoot them
    with powder and lead: Thoughts are free!

    I think what I want, and what delights me,
    still always reticent, and as it is suitable.
    My wish and desire, no one can deny me
    and so it will always be: Thoughts are free!

    And if I am thrown into the darkest dungeon,
    all this would be futile work,
    because my thoughts tear all gates
    and walls apart: Thoughts are free!

    So I will renounce my sorrows forever,
    and never again will torture myself with whimsies.
    In one's heart, one can always laugh and joke
    and think at the same time: Thoughts are free!

    I love wine, and my girl even more,
    Only her I like best of all.
    I'm not alone with my glass of wine,
    my girl is with me: Thoughts are free!"

  • "An idea, like a ghost, must be spoken to a little before it will explain itself." - Charles Dickens

  • "A word is not the same with one writer as with another. One tears it from his guts. The other pulls it out of his overcoat pocket." - Charles Peguy

  • "Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt..." - Colossians 4:6

  • "The more I write, the more I learn" - Roy Peter Clark

  • "I loved words. I love to sing them and speak them and even now, I must admit, I have fallen into the joy of writing them." - Anne Rice

  • "Almost all words do have color and nothing is more pleasant than to utter a pink word and see someone's eyes light up and know it is a pink word for him or her too" - Gladys Taber

  • "Words have weight, sound and appearance; it is only by considering these that you can write a sentence that is good to look at and good to listen to" - William Somerset Maugham

  • "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

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

  • "The most valuable of all talents is never using two words when one will do." - Thomas Jefferson

  • "Words are things, and a small drop of ink, falling like dew upon a thought, produces that which makes thousands, perhaps millions, think" - Lord Byron

  • "The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause." - Mark Twain

  • "Use the right word and not its second cousin" - Mark Twain

  • "Do not say a little in many words but a great deal in a few." - Pythagoras

  • "Words are only postage stamps delivering the object for you to unwrap" - George Bernard Shaw

  • "The time has come, the Walrus said, to talk of many things, of shoes and ships and sealing wax, of cabbages and kings." - Lewis Carroll

  • "It pays to be obvious, especially if you have a reputation for subtlety." - Isaac Asimov

  • "There is nothing so important as trifles, Watson" - Sherlock Holmes

  • "Easy reading is damn hard writing." - Nathaniel Hawthorne

  • "The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead; his eyes are closed." - Albert Einstein

  • "What is written without effort is in general read without pleasure." - Samuel Johnson

  • "To write well consists of continuously making small erosions, wearing away grammar in its established form, current norms of language. It is an act of permanent rebellion and subversion against social environs." - Jose Ortega y Gassett

  • "Like apples of gold in settings of silver Is a word spoken in right circumstances." - Proverbs 25:11

  • "My aim is to put down on paper what I see and what I feel in the best and simplest way." - Ernest Hemingway

  • "The work never matches the dream of perfection the artist has to start with." - William Faulkner

  • "To have something to say is a question of sleepless nights and worry and endless ratiocination of a subject - of endless trying to dig out of the essential truth, the essential justice." - F. Scott Fitzgerald

  • "I take the reporting side of writing more seriously than the writing side. I think it really is a lot of work to get things right, so I trained myself. I sort of take notes the way photographers take photos. You just sort of scattershot, record everything, because you never know what's going to prove invaluable..." - Jon Krakauer

  • "What has a writer to be bombastic about? Whatever good a man may write is the consequence of accident, luck, or surprise, and nobody is more surprised than an honest writer when he makes a good phrase or says something truthful." - Edward Dahlberg

  • "You must keep sending work out; you must never let a manuscript do nothing but eat its head off in a drawer. You send that work out again and again, while you're working on another one. If you have talent, you will receive some measure of success-but only if you persist." - Isaac Asimov

  • "You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club." - Jack London

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

  • "Writing is thinking on paper." - William Zinsse

  • "Writing and learning and thinking are the same process." - William Zinsser

  • "I cannot live without books." - Thomas Jefferson

  • "Some editors are failed writers, but so are most writers." - T. S. Eliot

  • "Writing is no trouble: you just jot down ideas as they occur to you. The jotting is simplicity itself - it is the occurring which is difficult." - Stephen Leacock

  • "Writing is like cooking...if you spill something, you should make it look like part of the act." - John Keeble

  • "I'm all in favor of keeping dangerous weapons out of the hands of fools. Let's start with typewriters." - Frank Lloyd Wright

  • "When I face the desolate impossibility of writing 500 pages, a sick sense of failure falls on me, and I know I can never do it. Then gradually, I write one page and then another. One day's works is all I can permit myself to contemplate." - John Steinbeck

  • "Omit needless words. Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts." - William Strunk, Jr.

  • "I didn't have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead." - Mark Twain

  • "Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read." - Groucho Marx

  • "It took me fifteen years to discover that I had no talent for writing, but I couldn't give it up because by that time I was too famous." - Robert Charles Benchley, Humorist (1889-1945)

  • "Asking a writer what he thinks about criticism is like asking a lamppost what it feels about dogs." - John Osborne

  • "If any man wishes to write a clear style, let him first be clear in his thoughts." - Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

  • "The reason one writes isn't the fact he wants to say something. He writes because he has something to say." - F. Scott Fitzgerald

  • "I am irritated by my own writing. I am like a violinist whose ear is true, but whose fingers refuse to reproduce precisely the sound he hears within." - Gustavo Flaubert

  • "A writer is a person for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people." - Thomas Mann

  • "All writers are vain, selfish and lazy, and at the very bottom of their motives lies a mystery. Writing a book is a long, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand." - George Orwell

  • "There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein." - Red Smith

  • "I was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning, and took out a comma. In the afternoon I put it back again." - Oscar Wilde

  • "Through joy and through sorrow, I wrote. Through hunger and through thirst, I wrote. Through good report and through ill report, I wrote. Through sunshine and through moonshine, I wrote. What I wrote it is unnecessary to say." - Edgar A. Poe

  • "There's no such thing as writer's block. That was invented by people in California who couldn't write." - Terry Pratchett

  • "Being a good writer is 3% talent, 97% not being distracted by the Internet." - Anonymous

  • "The pen is the tongue of the mind." - Miguel de Cervantes

  • "The skill of writing is to create a context in which other people can think." - Edwin Schlossberg

  • "Never throw up on an editor." - Ellen Datlow

  • "Talent alone cannot make a writer. There must be a man behind the book." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

  • "The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shock-proof shit detector." - Ernest Hemingway

  • "It's hard for me to believe that people who read very little - or not at all in some cases - should presume to write and expect people to like what they have written. Can I be blunt on this subject? If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time - or the tools - to write. Simple as that." - Stephen King

  • "One has to live a life that creates a writer." - Erno Paasilinna

  • "Do not consider it proof just because it is written in books, for a liar who will deceive with his tongue will not hesitate to do the same with his pen." - Maimonides

  • "I keep six honest serving men
    They taught me all I knew;
    Their names are What and Why and When
    and How and Where and Who." - Rudyard Kipling

  • "Books aren't written, they're rewritten. Including your own. It is one of the hardest things to accept, especially after the seventh rewrite hasn't quite done it..." - Michael Crichton

  • "The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do." - Thomas Jefferson

  • "I have never thought of myself as a good writer. Anyone who wants reassurance of that should read one of my first drafts. But I'm one of the world's great rewriters." - James A. Michener

  • "Write quickly and you will never write well. Write well, and you will soon write quickly." - Marcus Fabius Quintilianus, 65 A.D.

  • "I think I did pretty well, considering I started out with nothing but a bunch of blank paper." - Steve Martin

  • "It's none of their business that you have to learn to write. Let them think you were born that way." - Ernest Hemingway

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

  • "You can be a little ungrammatical if you come from the right part of the country." - Robert Frost

  • "They would not find me changed from him they knew - only more sure of all I thought was true." - Robert Frost

  • "There are two kinds of teachers: the kind that fill you with so much quail shot that you can't move, and the kind that just gives you a little prod behind and you jump to the skies." - Robert Frost

  • "The ear is the only true writer and the only true reader." - Robert Frost

  • "Style is that which indicates how the writer takes himself and what he is saying. It is the mind skating circles around itself as it moves forward." - Robert Frost

  • "No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader." - Robert Frost

  • "I have never started a poem yet whose end I knew. Writing a poem is discovering." - Robert Frost

  • "I am a writer of books in retrospect. I talk in order to understand; I teach in order to learn." - Robert Frost

  • "I alone of English writers have consciously set myself to make music out of what I may call the sound of sense." - Robert Frost

  • "Half the world is composed of people who have something to say and can't, and the other half who have nothing to say and keep on saying it." - Robert Frost

  • "Always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it." - P. J. O'Rourke


"It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life
that no man can sincerely try to help another without also helping himself.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

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