Writing Quotes: Blood & Ink, Sweat & Tears

Writing can wreck your body. You sit there on the chair hour after hour and sweat your guts out to get a few words. ~Norman Mailer (1923–2007)

No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader; no grief without grievance. ~Robert Frost (1874–1963)  [Mash‑up of a 1949 quotation and one from 1960. And a smidge altered. –tg]

Writing… is easy. You just sit at your typewriter until little drops of blood appear on your forehead. ~Red Smith (1905–1982)  [Credit: O’Toole –tg]

If the writer doesn’t sweat, the reader will. ~Carl Becker (1873–1945)

Of all that is written, I love only what a man has written with his blood…. It is no easy task to understand unfamiliar blood…. He who writes in blood and aphorism does not want to be read but to be learnt by heart. ~Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900)

Our live experiences fixed in aphorisms stiffen into cold epigram. Our heart’s blood, as we write with it, darkens into ink. ~F.H. Bradley (1846–1924)

For with me writing is not a means of livelihood, not an occupation or trade, but a disease. I was born not with blood, but with printer’s ink in my veins. To me, to write is an imperative necessity which may not be denied. ~Time and Tide, 1955 March 12th

You’re not going into the I’m-a-born-newspaperman-with-ink-in-my-veins-instead-of-blood speech, are you? ~Whit Masterson, The Death of Me Yet, 1970

This work shop had a grim look, as if the laborer within it would sacrifice everything to the demands of his toil; changing his life blood into ink if necessary; and his soul into a pen. ~Anna McClure Sholl, “His Heartache,” 1904

When she could no longer have Maurice within the bound of vibrating speech, she would gladly have converted her life-blood into ink, that she might send to him the whole course of her life as it flowed. ~”Eugénie de Guérin,” The Catholic World, August 1886

If I lose the light of the sun, I will write by candlelight, moonlight, no light. If I lose paper and ink, I will write in blood on forgotten walls. I will write always. ~Henry Rollins, Do I Come Here Often?, 1996

It has been said, time and time repeated, that once you get ink in your blood, running strong in your veins, you can never get it out…. You never grow too old to write when the ink is in your blood. Your fingers still itch to record the ideas you have. Your eye is still proud to read a bit of work that you have created. Your mind is still capable of being astonished at the power it holds. No, you are never too old to see a new adventure and get it down, quick. Men have left writing for other positions and they have always been restless until they are back at the desk, with their pens, their typewriters, and their inky hands. Their desire for creation and their pride in their product can find no outlet, and you know what happens to things that are bottled up too long. They can’t be satisfied until they can hear that scratch or that tap, and feel that they are once again in the inner circle of those with ink in their blood. ~Elizabeth R. Hartman, “Ink in the Blood,” 1936

The true artist will let his wife starve, his children go barefoot, his mother drudge for his living at seventy, sooner than work at anything but his art. To women he is half vivisector, half vampire. He gets into intimate relations with them to study them, to strip the mask of convention from them, to surprise their inmost secrets, knowing that they have the power to rouse his deepest creative energies, to rescue him from his cold reason, to make him see visions and dream dreams, to inspire him, as he calls it. He persuades women that they may do this for their own purpose whilst he really means them to do it for his. He steals the mother’s milk and blackens it to make printer’s ink to scoff at her and glorify ideal women with…. Since marriage began, the great artist has been known as a bad husband. ~G. Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman: A Comedy and a Philosophy, 1903 (Tanner)  [“Shaw is unquestionably an artist, and I think that the foregoing is an accurate description of the artistic instinct…. He has sacrificed everything for his plays. Shaw gives the impression of a man who long since parted with every temptation, except that of turning his blood into ink, in order to reveal his soul.” ~Robert Loraine, “Where Does Shaw Leave You?”, 1906 –tg]