Top 57 Famous Writer Quotes To Inspire Greatness

Famous writer quotes motivate readers to continue striving for excellence. Discover our guide with famous quotes that stimulate great ideas.

There are days when we feel down and unworthy. When those days knock on my door, I look for quotes to remind me I am capable of greatness. Referring to famous quotes can inspire us on the days when we feel a bit flat, and can bring us up to live life to the fullest.

1. William Shakespeare

“To thine own self be true.”

William Shakespeare

Shakespeare reminds his audience to be honest with themselves through the chief minister Polonius in his famous play, Hamlet.

2. Stephen Chbosky

“Even if we don’t have the power to choose where we come from, we can still choose where we go from there.”

Stephen Chbosky

Chbosky’s The Perks of Being A Wallflower resonates with a broad audience for its raw portrayal of the characters‘ heartbreaks and how they accept their genuine selves.

3. J.K. Rowling

“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.”

J.K. Rowling

Rowling’s Harvard speech echoes her advice to the graduates to choose a life they think is worth living and not be afraid of pitfalls as they are stepping stones to success.

4. Richie Norton

“Don’t allow life to pass you by because you are afraid of [looking] stupid.”

Richie Norton

In his book, The Power of Starting Something Stupid, Norton urges his readers to stop self-consciousness in deterring them from what life has to offer.

5. Ray Bradbury

Ray Bradbury
MDCarchives, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

“We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.”

Ray Bradbury

We must let ourselves spill into others to make space for everything life offers. However, Bradbury notes that we should give back only the “beautiful stuff.” You might also like our essays about quotes.

6. F. Scott Fitzgerald

“Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone … just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald

Fitzgerald’s character in The Great Gatsby, Nick Carraway, emphasizes that everyone has different circumstances. Therefore, we must not judge anyone but ourselves.

7. Stephen King

“The scariest moment is always just before you start.”

Stephen King

Once you overcome your doubts before taking the leap of faith, the rest of the journey becomes easier.

8. Mark Twain

“Challenges make life interesting, however overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.”

Mark Twain

Life is a series of challenges you need to conquer to grow as a person and progress in life. Without challenges, life is but a dull trek to death.

9. James Baldwin

“It took many years of vomiting up all the filth I’d been taught about myself, and half-believed, before I was able to walk on the earth as though I had a right to be here.”

James Baldwin

This excerpt was from Baldwin’s report when he visited Tallahassee, Florida, and his view on the student’s stance against racial segregation. 

10. J.M. Barrie

“The secret of happiness is not doing what one likes, but in liking what one does.”

J.M. Barrie

Peter Pan is a loved children’s book with magic and life lessons. It teaches us how to achieve happiness by being content with what we can do.

11. Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Life is a journey, not a destination.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Don’t go through life with shortcuts. Enjoy the failures and successes, and continue learning while you can.

12. George Orwell

“If you can feel that staying human is worthwhile, even when it can’t have any result whatever, you’ve beaten them.”

George Orwell

Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984 depicts a totalitarian government that constantly watches its citizens. The quote presents the importance of staying human despite inhumane experiences.

13. Aristotle

“To avoid criticism: say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.”


Meaningful actions always attract critics. You’ll know you’re doing something worthwhile when you have supporters and detractors.

14. Mokokoma Mokhonoana

“’How was your day?’ ought to be ‘How did you look at your day?’”

Mokokoma Mokhonoana

Your day will only be as great as you perceive it to be. To have a good day, focus on the good things.

15. Stephanie Bennett Henry

“Life is tough my darling, but so are you.”

Stephanie Bennett Henry

Don’t feel discouraged when going through complex challenges. You’re as tough as the trials you’re going through.

16. Amit Kalantri

“There is no good day or bad day, only good or bad actions.”

Amit Kalantri

You determine how your day goes by choosing to do good or evil deeds.

17. Charles Dickens

“It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest I go to than I have ever known.”

Charles Dickens

Dicken’s character, Sydney Carton, in A Tale of Two Cities, said this line while awaiting his sacrificial death for the French Revolution. Its calm repetition denotes his complete acceptance of his fate for glory.

18. Gabriel García Márquez

“There is always something left to love.”

Gabriel García Márquez

García Márquez was a celebrated novelist who veered away from letting politics and other ideologies affect his works. It’s why his pieces can authentically represent human emotions. 

19. AA Milne

“You can’t stay in your corner of the forest waiting for the others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.”

AA Milne

Winnie The Pooh is a precious children’s book that teaches priceless wisdom. Milne reminds the audience that reaching out to others is also necessary for a happy life.

20. Voltaire

“Appreciation is a wonderful thing. It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.”


To openly show our admiration positively influences other people and us. It’s a form of gratitude to them for sharing their talents.

21. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

“It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important.”

Oscar Wilde

The Little Prince’s companion, the Fox, points out that the Prince’s commitment to his rose makes it priceless. Similarly, our experiences make our stay on Earth worthwhile.

22. Oscar Wilde

“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.”

Oscar Wilde

Most are bounded by their idea of how they think they should live. Because of this notion, they are afraid to seize chances and fail to live for themselves.

23. Paulo Coelho

“Straight roads do not make skillful drivers.”

Paulo Coelho

Rough patches on our journey assist us in honing our personalities and perspectives in life. The adversities that we face in life can improve us as human beings.

24. Robert Ingersoll

“We rise by lifting others.”

Robert Ingersoll

Ingersoll urges the readers to help others. Through helping one another, we help ourselves and become happier people

25. H. Jackson Brown Jr.

“When you can’t change the direction of the wind, adjust your sails.”

H. Jackson Brown Jr.

Rather than fighting something inevitable, accept it and move on. Then, plan with consideration to the changes.

26. George R.R. Martin

George R.R. Martin
Sanna Pudas, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

“Nobody is a villain in their own story. We’re all the heroes of our own stories.”

George R. R. Martin

The TV adaptation of the Game of Thrones series further boosted its popularity. This quote highlights the reality that individuals act for their benefit.

27. Brene Brown

“Self-awareness and self-love matter. Who we are is how we lead.”

Brene Brown

To be an effective leader, one must first polish their character and learn to love themselves.

28. Sylvia Plath

“I want to taste and glory in each day, and never be afraid to experience pain.”

Sylvia Plath

Don’t be afraid of pain. You shouldn’t let it hinder you from appreciating living one day more.

29. Francine Rivers

“Have faith, have faith. When you have nothing else, have faith.”

Francine Rivers

Trust in yourself or a higher being is critical to keep hope alive.

30. Mark Twain

“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.”

Mark Twain

Surround yourself with people who support and believe in you. 

31. Robert Frost

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less traveled by. And that has made all the difference.”

Robert Frost

The Road Not Taken is an excellent poem that teaches the value of independence and freedom. You don’t have to conform to every expectation others have of you.

32. Natalie Goldberg

“If you are not afraid of the voices inside you, you will not fear the critics outside you.”

Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones

In her book Writing Down the Bones, Goldberg preaches the importance of Zen meditation and writing. Having a clear mind is critical to acting with purpose.

33. Ernest Hemingway

“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.”

Ernest Hemingway

The only one you should compare your current self to is the past you. Stop comparing yourself to others.

34. Jane Austen

“My courage always rises at every attempt to intimidate me.”

Jane Austen

This excerpt from Pride and Prejudice captures the heroine’s personality. Like Elizabeth Bennet, you should be bold and intelligent and challenge those who try to intimidate or belittle you.

35. George R.R. Martin

“Every man should lose a battle in his youth, so he does not lose a war when he is old.”

George R.R. Martin

Don’t wallow in your failures; they are necessary for you to grow. Your past mistakes will guide you in your future decisions.

36. J.R.R. Tolkien

“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

J.R.R. Tolkien

Gandalf and Frodo’s notable conversation in The Fellowship of the Ring shows the former’s resignation to their destiny, but that doesn’t mean one can’t have a hand over their ultimate fates.  

37. Henry David Thoreau

“Never look back unless you are planning to go that way.”

Henry David Thoreau

Have confidence in yourself whenever you make decisions. Be decisive and assertive in dealing with the results of your verdict.

38. Cheryl Strayed

“We do not have the right to feel helpless. We must help ourselves. After destiny has delivered what it delivers, we are responsible for our lives.”

Cheryl Strayed

Life is unfair and full of trials, so we must be tough and self-reliant. Take hold of your life and survive the challenges that come your way.

39. Dr. Seuss

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…”

Dr. Seuss

Oh, the Places You’ll Go! is a motivational children’s book that rouses the reader to believe in themselves and pursue incredible ventures. 

40. C.S. Lewis

“Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.”

C.S. Lewis

Be righteous at all times. Upholding your morals, regardless of circumstance, sets you apart from everyone else.

41. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“Everything is hard before it is easy.”

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

The only way to make something easier is to start doing it. You’ll then be comfortable after your initial tries.

​42. Stephen King

“Sooner or later even the fastest runners have to stand and fight.”

Stephen King

You can’t run from your problems forever. You must face them head-on to finally move on to the next chapter of your life.

43. Terry Pratchett

“There have been times, lately, when I dearly wished that I could change the past. Well, I can’t, but I can change the present, so that when it becomes the past it will turn out to be a past worth having.”

Terry Pratchett

Pratchett stresses the importance of looking forward. You can’t change your past, but you can make your present better to have a bright future.

44. William Shakespeare

“The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.”

William Shakespeare

Those who think they know everything are ignorant. To be wise, know that there’s always something to learn.

45. Maya Angelou

“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.”

Maya Angelou

Defeats are imperative. How you handle these losses helps you learn more about yourself, including your weaknesses and strengths.

46. Joseph Heller

“You were designed for accomplishment, engineered for success, and endowed with the seeds of greatness.”

Zig Ziglar

You already have everything you need to be great. You’re made for greatness.

47. Paulo Coelho

“You have to take risks. We will only understand the miracle of life fully when we allow the unexpected to happen.”

Paulo Coelho

Not everything goes according to plan. Be prepared for sudden changes and have the courage to face dangers.

48. Albert Einstein

“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.”

Albert Einstein

Venturing through unfamiliar territories is often accompanied by mistakes. Someone who claims they never make mistakes never stepped out of their comfort zone.

49. Maya Angelou

“I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it.”

Maya Angelou

Experiences can change your perspectives and beliefs. But you’ll never be worth less, no matter how challenging your past has been.

50. Ernest Hemingway

“We are all broken, that’s how the light gets in.”

Ernest Hemingway

Everyone has their own ordeals and wounds to confront. These adversaries let us gain new insights to be better people.

51. J.K. Rowling

J.K. Rowling
Executive Office of the President, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

“It matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be.”

J.K. Rowling

Dumbledore’s answer to Fudge’s opinion points out that an individual’s aptitudes are more important than their origin.

52. Brad Meltzer

“We are all ordinary. We are all boring. We are all spectacular. We are all shy. We are all bold. We are all heroes. We are all helpless. It just depends on the day.”

Brad Meltzer

Everyone can be what they want to be. However, it doesn’t mean we need to be constantly spectacular. We can be “boring,” but we are all still capable of greatness.  

53. Oscar Wilde

“Life is never fair, and perhaps it is a good thing for most of us that it is not.”

Oscar Wilde

If life is predictable, it will become bland and dull. The unfairness of life makes it stimulating.

54. C.S. Lewis

“Don’t let your happiness depend on something you may lose.”

C.S. Lewis

Your joy should not rely on something fleeting. This can give us a false sense of assurance that we fail to have a broad view of our circumstances.

55. Audre Lorde

“I have come to believe that caring for myself is not self-indulgent. Caring for myself is an act of survival.”

Audre Lorde

Don’t lose yourself while trying to care for others. To live means to preserve yourself as much as you can.

56. George R.R. Martin

“Never forget what you are, for surely the world will not. Make it your strength. Then it can never be your weakness.”

George R.R. Martin

Take pride in who you are, even if they are unfavorable. When you recognize everything that makes you exceptional, no one can use them to attack you.

57. J.R.R. Tolkien

“Not all those who wander are lost.”

J.R.R. Tolkien

Tolkien fans commonly use this famed quote. An individual without a destination doesn’t mean they don’t do so on purpose. Taking pleasure in the slowness of life is a beautiful thing; we must not become fixated on achieving goals and constantly progressing.

Greatness is rooted in values that can’t be measured. To be great is not only to be brave in the face of adversity or to change the world. It can be as simple as being kind to others and, especially, being kind to yourself. Quotes shared by famous authors account for their desire to encourage a larger audience to attempt great things.

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