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Words of Wisdom

By January 31, 2010October 19th, 2018Words of Wisdom
Words of wisdom

American writer Ernest Hemingway on a big game hunt in Kenya, 1952. (Photo by Earl Theisen/Getty Images)


My collection of quotes

Here’s a collection of words of wisdom in the form of quotes by wise people. They span a range of topics relating to writing, editing, creativity, advertising or grammar. I actively gathered them for my first six years in business (2005-2010), and I love them because they’re clever, funny, succinct, and indicative of what my writer’s mind enjoyed at that time. Please write to me if you stumble across a great quote somewhere – I’ll attribute it and I’ll credit you.

“History will be kind to me for I intend to write it.” – Winston Churchill

“The business that considers itself immune to the necessity for advertising sooner or later finds itself immune to business.” – Derby Brown

“Nothing could be worse than the fear that one has given up too soon, and left one unexpended effort which might have saved the world.” – Jane Addams

“Customers buy for their reasons, not yours.” – Orvel Ray Wilson

“Doing business without advertising is like winking at a girl in the dark. You know what you are doing, but nobody else does.” – Steuart Henderson Britt

“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” – Aristotle

“In your thirst for knowledge, be sure not to drown in all the information.” – Anthony J. D’Angelo

“If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.” – George Bernard Shaw

“The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.” – Albert Einstein

“I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have.” – Thomas Jefferson

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle

“Research is what I’m doing when I don’t know what I’m doing.” – Wernher Von Braun

“You know you’ve read a good book when you turn the last page and feel a little as if you have lost a friend.” – Paul Sweeney

“It is absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are either charming or tedious.” – Oscar Wilde

“What I have crossed out I didn’t like. What I haven’t crossed out I’m dissatisfied with.” – Cecil B De Mille

“There is nothing wrong in splitting an infinitive (‘He is going to about make the grade’) except that eighteenth- and nineteenth-century grammarians, for one reason or another, frowned on it. And most grammar teachers have been frowning ever since.” – Theodore M. Bernstein

“Are you really sure that a floor can’t also be a ceiling?” – MC Escher

“I write one page of masterpiece to ninety one pages of shit.” – Ernest Hemingway

“The average pencil is seven inches long, with just a half-inch eraser – in case you thought optimism was dead.” – Robert Brault

Grammatolatry (n): The worship of words: regard for the letter while ignoring the spirit of something. – Anonymous

“Planning to write is not writing. Outlining, researching, talking to people about what you’re doing, none of that is writing. Writing is writing.” – E. L. Doctorow

“The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair.” – Mary Heaton Vorse

“Learn how to say no. Don’t let your mouth overload your back.” – Jim Rohn

“Why do writers write? Because it isn’t there.” – Thomas Berger

“Language shapes the way we think, and determines what we can think about.” – Benjamin Lee Whorf

“It used to be that the most visible expression of a brand, apart from the product itself or the service experience, was the TV commercial. Today, the most visible expression of a brand is the web site.” – John Ginsberg, Ensight

“As we know,
There are known knowns.
There are things we know we know.
We also know
There are known unknowns.
That is to say
We know there are some things
We do not know.
But there are also unknown unknowns,
The ones we don’t know
We don’t know.

Donald Rumsfeld

“Presentation isn’t everything – it’s the only thing.” – Anonymous

“If you tell the truth you don’t have to remember anything.” – Mark Twain

“Whatever you are, be a good one.” – Abraham Lincoln

“Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens.” – Jimi Hendrix

“Objectivity has about as much substance as the emperor’s new clothes.” – Connie Miller

“Individuals are unique, but patterns characterise members of nations and regions.” – Charles Mitchell

“Never trust anything that can think for itself if you can’t see where it keeps its brain.” – Mr Weasly, Harry Potter by JK Rowling

“The richest person in the world – in fact all the riches in the world – couldn’t provide you with anything like the endless, incredible loot available at your local library.” – Malcolm Forbes

“Language is the means of getting an idea from my brain into yours without surgery.” – Mark Amidon

“Without books the development of civilization would have been impossible. They are engines of change, windows on the world, ‘Lighthouses’ as the poet said, ‘erected in the sea of time’. They are companions, teachers, magicians, bankers of the treasures of the mind. Books are humanity in print.” – Arthur Schopenhauer

“Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.” – Groucho Marx

“No matter how busy you may think you are, you must find time for reading, or surrender yourself to self-chosen ignorance.” – Confucius

“It’s such a pleasure to write down splendid words – almost as though one were inventing them.” – Rupert Hart-Davis

“Whenever you face a barrage of criticism (even if it is from one person) take a step back and get some balance from the folk who are telling you that you’re doing good. Then consider the 98% of the rest of the folk who don’t care either way – at least not enough to comment. Then look at your resultant sales. And only then, think about changing.” – Peter Carruthers

“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counsellors, and the most patient of teachers.” – Charles W. Eliot

“The truth isn’t the truth until people believe you, and they can’t believe you if they don’t know what you’re saying, and they can”t know what you’re saying if they don’t listen to you, and they won’t listen to you if you’re not interesting, and you won’t be interesting unless you say things imaginatively, originally, freshly.” – Bill Bernbach

“The caterpillar does all the work but the butterfly gets all the publicity.” – George Carlin

“Write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow…” – Lawrence Clark Powell

“Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia.” – EL Doctorow

“Writing is a solitary occupation. Family, friends, and society are the natural enemies of the writer. He must be alone, uninterrupted, and slightly savage if he is to sustain and complete an undertaking.” – Jessamyn West

“The best things in life aren’t things.” – Art Buchwald

“Every adjective and adverb is worth five cents. Every verb is worth 50 cents.” – Mary Oliver

“Say all you have to say in the fewest possible words, or your reader will be sure to skip them; and in the plainest possible words or he will certainly misunderstand them.” – John Ruskin

“While the spoken word can travel faster, you can’t take it home in your hand. Only the written word can be absorbed wholly at the convenience of the reader.” – Kingman Brewster

“English usage is sometimes more than mere taste, judgment and education – sometimes it’s sheer luck, like getting across the street.” – EB White

“My spelling is Wobbly. It’s good spelling, but it Wobbles, and the letters get in the wrong places.” – Winnie the Pooh

“Words were originally magic, and to this day words have retained much of their ancient magical power.” – Freud

“Editors: at worst, they are murderers, and at best, butchers.” – Lynda Gilfillian

“I think that the online world has actually brought books back. People are reading because they’re reading the damn screen. That’s more reading than people used to do.” – Bill Murray

“I have tried simply to write the best I can. Sometimes I have good luck and write better than I can.” – Ernest Hemingway

“When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.” – Humpty Dumpty

“In the freelance world, you start every day at zero.” – Martha Stewart

“A deadline is negative inspiration. Still, it’s better than no inspiration at all.” – Rita Mae Brown

“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind, don’t matter, and those who matter, don’t mind.” – Theodore Seuss Geisel aka Dr Seuss

You can help…

Once again, if you find great words of wisdom somewhere, I’d love to see them. In return, have a look at my freebies page:

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