10 Great Quotes from Writers about Work

Work, work, work: we all have to do it at some point. Oh well. Here are ten fantastic quotes about work, that dreaded but rewarding beast, courtesy of some of the greatest writers who have ever lived. We hope you enjoy these quotes.

‘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


‘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.


  1. Reblogged this on Rare But Good and commented:
    This cheers me up every time I read it. If you’ve ever had trouble getting to the work you really want to do, read this and know how very normal you are.

  2. hahaha this was awesome!

  3. Reblogged this on david j delaney and commented:
    This page seemed to inspire me to write today, I’ve a pretty horrible cold… alright its man flu but I’m sure its a real disease (o;

  4. If you’re going to do nothing, make it a brilliant nothing; then write about it later. Enjoyed these quotes, thank you!

  5. I love this! Trying to feel inspired to start my own photography business and this has really helped!
    – Zoe Miranda

  6. Love the Stephen King quote. I am on a mission to read all of his works this year. That quote tickled me! Thanks :)

  7. I especially love Robert Benchley’s quote. It is almost my life story at the moment. I recently wrote a post about writers and what makes them great: (needless to say, it wasn’t what I was supposed to be doing at the moment).

  8. Reblogged this on obzervashunal : looking @ the Universe… and commented:

  9. Interesting Literature indeed…I always feel enriched after reading your posts…absolutely wonderful (and true too)!

  10. AWESOME! thanks for this – enjoyed it much! :) ~y.

  11. Quotes keep me motivated to write. I wanted to say thanks for coming by my blog today. Much Appreciated.

  12. 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…

  13. ‘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! :)

  14. Reblogged this on roslionel.

  15. What a wonderful set of quotations! As a writer I can attest that Benchley’s quote is absolutely right!

  16. Reblogged this on Loccmama fucks cliches. and commented:
    This is interesting really.

  17. 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?

  18. Robert Frost’s quote suits me to a tee :)

  19. I love these! Thanks for sharing. :)

  20. wish i could come up with something as pithy as these people. I suppose thats why they are writers and I’m not

  21. I’m with Wilde on this but an entertaining and revealing list overall – many thanks.

  22. Big smile over here.

  23. Robert Frost and I would be great pals. Great list of quotes!

  24. Love the Wilde quote <3

  25. Well, each one of them is true word. Love it. Thank you.

  26. Good read. A few of them made me laugh. Robert Benchley’s qoute is simply marvelous!

  27. Very nice, found myself laughing at some of those.

  28. The Robert Frost quote is my favorite :)

  29. 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 :)

  30. Really fun! Love the first one! Thanks!

  31. ‘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.

  32. Most inspiring! I think Samuel Beckett’s is my favourite.

  33. Robert Frost is my favorite on this list. That’s my feelings entirely.

  34. Very funny and inspiring. Thank you for sharing :)

  35. Fabulous grouping of quotes! I especially like Robert Frost’s words…I experience that every time I sit down to write!

  36. Love it. I can certainly attest to the one about doing things you’re not supposed to be doing…..

  37. I’m giggling over here! Well done!

  38. Very cool. I love, “Love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place.” – Zora Neale Hurston

  39. 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!

    • I think many writers have started like that – David Gemmell put the finishing touches to Legend, his first novel, while at work. I can’t think of a more productive form of procrastination than that!

  40. A great compilation!