5 Famous Authors Talk About Writing 5

WHEN IT COMES TO WRITING AND THE WRITING LIFE, every author has a different and unique take on his or her sources of inspiration, what makes for good writing, and what is most important for success.

I gain both encouragement and confidence in my own approach when I listen to others’ talk about their experiences and philosophies — particularly those authors who have been quite successful. I like to remember that, after all, they are just people like myself. 

Today’s post is a compilation of 5 videos of famous authors talking about their lives, processes, and ideas about the craft of writing. And while they mostly write fiction, I find that their experiences and ideas can be applied to any kind of writing. Enjoy!

Writer Joyce Carol Oates at home

In this interview with the New Yorker, Ms Oates talks about her daily writing routine and philosophy of the writing life.

Notable quotes:

To me, it’s thrilling to be writing. If I’m not writing a short story or novel, I would then be writing an essay or a book review . . . I haven’t the faintest idea how many copies of books I’ve sold or how many books I’ve written. I could look these things up — I have no interest in it.


Here’s another New Yorker profile, with Jhumpa Lahiri

At her home in Brooklyn, Jhumpa Lahiri chats about writing, and about working on her book, The Lowland.

Notable quotes:

All writing, all art, is a wild leap off a cliff.

In the end, the stories become universal — are universal — and it doesn’t matter if they’re taking place in rural Canada or New England or Ireland or India, because there is something linking them, which is the human experience.


Stephen King talks about his writing process during an interview with the Bangor Daily News.

Notable quote:

You have to go where the book leads you . . . It’s a big and powerful machine.


Lee Child (of the Jack Reacher series) talks about why it’s better to start writing later in life. As a late bloomer myself, of course I like this one!

Notable quote:

To say I’m going to make my living writing fiction is like saying I’m going to get hit by lightning twice on the same day I win the lottery, but I didn’t pay attention to that.


And finally, an interview with Neil Gaiman, one of my favorite authors. He’s witty, imaginative, and wildly prolific.

Notable quote:

For me, inspiration comes from a bunch of places: desperation, deadlines . . . A lot of times, ideas will turn up while you’re doing something else . . . Essentially, ideas come from daydreaming.”


I hope you enjoyed listening to these authors’ thoughts about writing.

What was your favorite quote or main takeaway?


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