10 Great Quotations from Writers about Work

‘Hard work is simply the refuge of people who have nothing whatever to do.’ – Oscar Wilde

‘I always arrive late at the office, but I make up for it by leaving early.’ – Charles Lamb

‘Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.’ – Samuel Beckett

‘Work is more fun than fun.’ – Noel Coward

‘The brain is a wonderful organ. It starts working the moment you get up and does not stop until you get into the office.’ – Robert Frost

stephenking

‘I like work: it fascinates me. I can sit and look at it for hours.’ – Jerome K. Jerome

‘Anyone can do any amount of work provided it isn’t the work he is supposed to be doing at that moment.’ – Robert Benchley

‘I don’t do anything. Not one single thing. I used to bite my nails, but I don’t even do that any more.’ – Dorothy Parker

‘I work until beer o’clock.’ – Stephen King

‘When I was a young man I observed that nine out of every ten things I did were failures. So I did ten times more work.’ – George Bernard Shaw

Image: Stephen King, 2007 by ‘Pinguino‘, free licence.

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75 thoughts on “10 Great Quotations from Writers about Work

  1. A nice variation there. It must be a common theme among writers though to be anarchists when it comes to work. I certainly know that I’d rather be writing than working…so I tend to write when I AM at work. It’d be rude not to!

  2. ‘Hard work is simply the refuge of people who have nothing whatever to do.’ – Oscar Wilde
    This one is SO true!! I know because I am a hard worker, except that I am unemployed now. Having no job made me realize that my life is empty.

  3. Someone once saw how hard I worked when I was a young man doing construction work. I would sweat more than the other guys I grunted and groaned….then he showed me how to do my job better with such ease. Then he said,”Work smart,not hard.”

    • That’s very good advice. Reminds me of when I first started playing sport and more experienced people said I was trying too hard, running about the place. The skill was in moving as little as possible but as effectively as possible, they said. I think that sort of rule holds true for work too :)

  4. Reblogged this on 1WriteWay and commented:
    At first, I thought these great (and interesting) quotes from writers would be about writing. But they are generally about work, that is, work as something different from writing. Robert Frost’s quote captures my experience very well :) What about you? What quote resonates the most for you?

  5. ‘The brain is a wonderful organ. It starts working the moment you get up and does not stop until you get into the office.’ – Robert Frost
    Totally agree! :)

  6. The majority of these, especially those the first half, are apparently based on paradoxes in the ‘less is more’ mould. I think the authors with their witty asides are trying to preserve a sense of mystery for their art.

    • That’s an interesting observation, and I’m inclined to agree – though I hadn’t drawn that conclusion. I think it’s always advisable to take writers’ comments on how hard they work with a pinch of salt. Some want to make their efforts seem … well, effortless…

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