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C.S. Lewis Quotes on Writing: The Complete Collection

c-s-lewis-quotes-on-writing-the-complete-collection C.S. Lewis Quotes on Writing: The Complete Collection

Character, intellect, and creativity—these words are not enough to describe the impact and importance of C.S. Lewis, especially in literature. Years after his death, generations after generations, people realize the relevance of his writings more than ever. His influence as a writer goes beyond literature, extending to topics related to logic and philosophy. Hence, it’s understandable why many choose to look for C.S. Lewis quotes on writing and other aspects of life for the inspiration they need.

Born in Belfast, Ireland, on November 29, 1898, prolific writer and theologian Clive Staples Lewis’ fame grew thanks to his fiction, nonfiction, and pro-Christian texts. He possessed a remarkable ability to deliver his thoughts to different audiences, paired with his powerful imagination and straightforward style of expression. His best-known work of fiction was the “Chronicles of Narnia” fantasy series, which sold over 100 million copies, even popularized on stage, television, and movies.

Apart from his series, which became the most influential children’s books worldwide, Lewis’ also used his expertise to convey theological truths and concepts. Hence, his writings involved fiction, nonfiction, scholarly works, and those that feature Christian faith. As a man of influence, a significant portion of C.S. Lewis’ impact involves his works and quotes on writing, much of which future generations will find beneficial in the field and life.

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C. S. Lewis Quotes About Writing

Irish-born British scholar and writer C.S. Lewis earned his impact through his scholarly work and fiction. Up to this day, most of his books are still available, selling around 200 million copies in various languages. Apart from his writings, his eloquence and conversational writing style also contributed to his popularity in the field. Moreover, Lewis left bits of advice and insight about writing that many will find valuable today. Hence, the collection below contains his quotes about writing.

First, I do not sit down at my desk to put into verse something that is already clear in my mind. If it were clear in my mind, I should have no incentive or need to write about it. We do not write in order to be understood; we write in order to understand.

C.S. Lewis

The world does not need more Christian literature. What it needs is more Christians writing good literature.

C.S. Lewis

Don’t use words too big for the subject. Don’t say ‘infinitely’ when you mean ‘very’; otherwise you’ll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.

C.S. Lewis

Anyone who is honestly trying to be a Christian will soon find his intelligence being sharpened: one of the reasons why it needs no special education to be a Christian is that Christianity is an education itself. That is why an uneducated believer like Bunyan was able to write a book that has astonished the whole world.

C.S. Lewis

You can make anything by writing.

C.S. Lewis

If only this toothache would go away, I could write another chapter on the problem of pain.

C.S. Lewis

Write about what really interests you, whether it is real things or imaginary things, and nothing else.

C.S. Lewis

Never use abstract nouns when concrete ones will do. If you mean “More people died” don’t say “Mortality rose.

C.S. Lewis

Whenever you are fed up with life, start writing: ink is the great cure for all human ills, as I have found out long ago.

C.S. Lewis

I thought I could describe a state; make a map of sorrow. Sorrow, however, turns out to be not a state, but a process. It needs not a map, but a history, and if I don’t stop writing that history at some quite arbitrary point, there’s no reason why I should ever stop.

C.S. Lewis

I write for the unlearned about things in which I am unlearned myself.

C.S. Lewis

What you want is practice, practice, practice. It doesn’t matter what we write (at least this is my view) at our age, so long as we write continually as well as we can. I feel that every time I write a page either of prose or of verse, with real effort, even if it’s thrown into the fire the next minute, I am so much further on.

C.S. Lewis

I was with book, as a woman is with child.

C.S. Lewis

Don’t say it was “delightful”; make us say “delightful” when we’ve read the description.

C.S. Lewis

Aren’t all these notes the senseless writings of a man who won’t accept the fact that there is nothing we can do with suffering except to suffer it?

C.S. Lewis

Don’t say it was delightful; make us say delightful when we’ve read the description. You see, all those words (horrifying, wonderful, hideous, exquisite) are only like saying to your readers Please will you do the job for me.

C.S. Lewis

If a man is going to write on chemistry, he learns chemistry. The same is true of Christianity.

C.S. Lewis

My own eyes are not enough for me…I will see through the eyes of others. Reality, even seen through the eyes of many is not enough…I will see what others have invented. Even the eyes of all humanity are not enough. I regret that the brutes cannot write books. Very gladly would I learn what face things present to a mouse or a bee. More gladly still would I perceive the olfactory world charged with all the information and emotion it carries for a dog.

C.S. Lewis

What began the change was the very writing itself. Let no one lightly set about such a work. Memory, once waked, will play the tyrant.

C.S. Lewis

Even when I feared and detested Christianity, I was struck by its essential unity, which, in spite of its divisions, it has never lost. I trembled on recognizing the same unmistakable aroma coming from the writings of Dante and Bunyan, Thomas Aquinas and William Law.

C.S. Lewis

Some people write heavily, some write lightly. I prefer the light approach because I believe there is a great deal of false reverence about. There is too much solemnity and intensity in dealing with sacred matters; too much speaking in holy tones.

C.S. Lewis

The only moral that is of any value is that which arises inevitably from the whole cast of the author’s mind.

C.S. Lewis

The story itself should force its moral upon you. You find out what the moral is by writing the story.

C.S. Lewis

Write about what really interests you, whether it is real things or imaginary things, and nothing else. (Notice this means that if you are interested only in writing you will never be a writer, because you will have nothing to write about…)

C.S. Lewis

We must perpetually try to distinguish, however closely they get entwined by the subtle nature of the facts and by the secret importunity of our passions, those attitudes in a writer which we can honestly and confidently condemn as real evils, and those qualities in his writing which simply annoy and offend us as men of taste.

C.S. Lewis

For in Calormen, story-telling (whether the stories are true or made up) is a thing you’re taught, just as English boys and girls are taught essay-writing. The difference is that people want to hear the stories, whereas I never heard of anyone who wanted to read the essays.

C.S. Lewis

The change which the writing wrought in me (and of which I did not write) was only a beginning; only to prepare me for the gods’ surgery. They used my own pen to probe my wound.

C.S. Lewis

I have at last come to the end of the Faerie Queene: and though I say “at last”, I almost wish he had lived to write six books more as he had hoped to do — so much have I enjoyed it.

C.S. Lewis

The poison was brewed in these West lands but it has spat itself everywhere by now. However far you went you would find the machines, the crowded cities, the empty thrones, the false writings, the barren beds: men maddened with false promises and soured with true miseries, worshipping the iron works of their own hands, cut off from Earth their Mother and from the Father in Heaven. You might go East so far the East became West and you returned to Britain across the great Ocean, but even so you would not have come out anywhere into the light. The shadow of one dark wing is over all Tellus.

C.S. Lewis

We can never know that a piece of writing is bad unless we have begun by trying to read it as if it was very good and ended by discovering that we were paying the author an undeserved compliment.

C.S. Lewis

God lends us a little of His reasoning powers and that is how we think: He puts a little of His love into us and that is how we love one another. When you teach a child writing, you hold its hand while it forms the letters: that is, it forms the letters because you are forming them. We love and reason because God loves and reasons and holds our hand while we do it.

C.S. Lewis

I would not know how to advise a man how to write. It is a matter of talent and interest. I believe he must be strongly moved if he is to become a writer.

C.S. Lewis

Writing is like a ‘lust,’ or like ‘scratching when you itch.’ Writing comes as a result of a very strong impulse, and when it does come, I for one must get it out.

C.S. Lewis

When you give up a bit of work don’t (unless it is hopelessly bad) throw it away. Put it in a drawer. It may come in useful later. Much of my best work, or what I think my best, is the re-writing of things begun and abandoned years earlier.

C.S. Lewis

I would say if a man is going to write on chemistry, he learns chemistry. The same is true of Christianity. But to speak of the craft itself, I would not know how to advise a man how to write. It is a matter of talent and interest. I believe he must be strongly moved if he is to become a writer. Writing is like a ‘lust,’ or like ‘scratching when you itch.’ Writing comes as a result of a very strong impulse, and when it does come, I for one must get it out.

C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis Quotes for Writers

Lewis effectively communicated and connected with different audiences through his craft. He was more than just a theologian—he was a poet and a writer of children and science fiction. His words, written or spoken, were able to stretch our imaginations and confidence: that there’s so much more that we can do, writer or not.

Moreover, he left a legacy that many writers can learn from, explaining the list of quotes below, much needed by writers looking for inspiration and motivation.

[Reality] is not neat, not obvious, not what you expect.

C.S. Lewis

You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.

C.S. Lewis

Since it is so likely that children will meet cruel enemies, let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage.

C.S. Lewis

Read all the good books you can, and avoid nearly all magazines.

C.S. Lewis

Always write (and read) with the ear, not the eye. You shd. hear every sentence you write as if it was being read aloud or spoken. If it does not sound nice, try again.

C.S. Lewis

Write about what really interests you, whether it is real things or imaginary things, and nothing else. (Notice this means that if you are interested only in writing you will never be a writer, because you will have nothing to write about . . .)

C.S. Lewis

Take great pains to be clear. Remember that though you start by knowing what you mean, the reader doesn’t, and a single ill-chosen word may lead him to a total misunderstanding. In a story it is terribly easy just to forget that you have not told the reader something that he needs to know—the whole picture is so clear in your own mind that you forget that it isn’t the same in his.

C.S. Lewis

When you give up a bit of work don’t (unless it is hopelessly bad) throw it away. Put it in a drawer. It may come in useful later. Much of my best work, or what I think my best, is the re-writing of things begun and abandoned years earlier.

C.S. Lewis

Don’t use a typewriter. The noise will destroy your sense of rhythm, which still needs years of training.

C.S. Lewis

Be sure you know the meaning (or meanings) of every word you use.

C.S. Lewis

The way for a person to develop a style is to know exactly what he wants to say, and to be sure he is saying exactly that. The reader, we must remember, does not start by knowing what we mean. If our words are ambiguous, our meaning will escape him. I sometimes think that writing is like driving sheep down a road. If there is any gate open to the left or the right the reader will most certainly go into it.

C.S. Lewis

Always try to use the language so as to make quite clear what you mean and make sure your sentence couldn’t mean anything else.

C.S. Lewis

Always prefer the plain direct word to the long, vague one. Don’t implement promises, but keep them.

C.S. Lewis

Never use abstract nouns when concrete ones will do. If you mean ‘More people died’ don’t say ‘Mortality rose.’

C.S. Lewis

Don’t use adjectives which merely tell us how you want us to feel about the things you are describing. I mean, instead of telling us the thing is ‘terrible’ describe it so that we’ll be terrified. Don’t say it was ‘delightful’; make us say ‘delightful’ when we’ve read the description. You see, all those words (horrifying, wonderful, hideous, exquisite) are only like saying to your readers ‘Please, will you do my job for me.’

C.S. Lewis

Don’t use words too big for the subject. Don’t say ‘infinitely’ when you mean ‘very’; otherwise you’ll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.

C.S. Lewis

We must not of course write anything that will flatter lust, pride or ambition. But we needn’t all write patently moral or theological work. Indeed, work whose Christianity is latent may do quite as much good and may reach some whom the more obvious religious work would scare away. The first business of a story is to be a good story. When Our Lord made a wheel in the carpenter shop, depend upon it: It was first and foremost a good wheel. Don’t try to ‘bring in’ specifically Christian bits: if God wants you to serve him in that way (He may not: there are different vocations) you will find it coming in of its own accord. If not, well—a good story which will give innocent pleasure is a good thing, just like cooking a good nourishing meal. . . . Any honest workmanship (whether making stories, shoes, or rabbit hutches) can be done to the glory of God.

C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis Quotes About Books

Lewis grew up in a household that valued reading and education. His parents were avid readers, and so was he and his brother. The truth is, he started reading by the age of three, then writing stories by five. Moreover, those early stories he wrote with his brother became part of the collection Boxen: The Imaginary World of the Young C.S. Lewis (1985).

Since reading influenced much of Lewis’ life and career, the following collection reflects his thoughts about books. Continue scrolling to check it out.

I can’t imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once.

C.S. Lewis

It is a good rule after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between.

C.S. Lewis

Clearly one must read every good book at least once every ten years.

C.S. Lewis

No book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally – and often far more – worth reading at the age of fifty and beyond.

C.S. Lewis

I never exactly made a book. It’s rather like taking dictation. I was given things to say.

C.S. Lewis

I wrote this story for you, but when I began it I had not realized that girls grow quicker than books. As a result you are already too old for fairy tales, and by the time it is printed and bound you will be older still. But some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again. You can then take it down from some upper shelf, dust it, and tell me what you think of it. I shall probably be too deaf to hear, and too old to understand a word you say, but I shall still be your affectionate Godfather, C. S. Lewis.

C.S. Lewis

Growing maturity is marked by the increasing liberties we take with our travelling… we made the discovery (some people never make it) that real books can be taken on a journey and that hours of golden reading can so be added to its other delights.

C.S. Lewis

Those of us who are blamed when old for reading childish books were blamed when children for reading books too old for us.

C.S. Lewis

What can be better than to get out a book on Saturday afternoon and thrust all mundane considerations away till next week.

C.S. Lewis

If they won’t write the kind of books we like to read we shall have to write them ourselves.

C.S. Lewis

I am a product of long corridors, empty sunlit rooms, upstairs indoor silences, attics explored in solitude, distant noises of gurgling cisterns and pipes, and the noise of wind under the tiles. Also, of endless books.

C.S. Lewis

Our experience is coloured through and through by books and plays and the cinema, and it takes patience and skill to disentangle the things we have really learned from life for ourselves.

C.S. Lewis

The only palliative is to keep the clean sea breeze of the centuries blowing through our minds, and this can be done only by reading old books.

C.S. Lewis

I am a product of endless books. My father bought all the books he read and never got rid of any of them. There were books in the study, books in the drawing room, books in the cloakroom, books (two deep) in the great bookcase on the landing, books in a bedroom, books piled as high as my shoulder in the cistern attic…In the seemingly endless rainy afternoons I took volume after volume from the shelves. I had always the same certainty of finding a book that was new to me as a man who walks into a field has of finding a new blade of grass.

C.S. Lewis

He liked books if they were books of information and had pictures of grain elevators or of fat foreign children doing exercises in model schools.

C.S. Lewis

Ideally, we should like to define a good book as one which ‘permits, invites, or compels’ good reading.

C.S. Lewis

My own eyes are not enough for me…I will see through the eyes of others. Reality, even seen through the eyes of many is not enough…I will see what others have invented. Even the eyes of all humanity are not enough. I regret that the brutes cannot write books. Very gladly would I learn what face things present to a mouse or a bee. More gladly still would I perceive the olfactory world charged with all the information and emotion it carries for a dog.

C.S. Lewis

Naturally, since I myself am a writer, I do not wish the ordinary reader to read no modern books. But if he must read only the new or only the old, I would advise him to read the old.

C.S. Lewis

I am a product […of] endless books. My father bought all the books he read and never got rid of any of them…. I had always the same certainty of finding a book that was new to me as a man who walks into a field has of finding a new blade of grass.

C.S. Lewis

When the voice of your friend or the page of your book sinks into democratic equality with the pattern of the wallpaper, the feel of your clothes, your memory of last night, and the noises from the road, you are falling asleep. The highly selective consciousness enjoyed by fully alert men, with all its builded sentiments and consecrated ideals, has as much to be called real as the drowsy chaos, and more.

C.S. Lewis

Because, as we know, almost anything can be read into any book if you are determined enough. This will be especially impressed on anyone who has written fantastic fiction. He will find reviewers, both favourable and hostile, reading into his stories all manner of allegorical meanings which he never intended. (Some of the allegories thus imposed on my own books have been so ingenious and interesting that I often wish I had thought of them myself.)

C.S. Lewis

Of course all children’s literature is not fantastic, so all fantastic books need not be children’s books. It is still possible, even in an age so ferociously anti-romantic as our own, to write fantastic stories for adults: though you will usually need to have made a name in some more fashionable kind of literature before anyone will publish them.

C.S. Lewis

An unliterary man may be defined as one who reads books once only.

C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis Quotes On Creativity

Have you read any of the books or writings that C.S. Lewis wrote? Have you seen the well-loved fantasy series, “The Chronicles of Narnia?” If so, you’d never question Lewis’ creativity. As someone enraptured by animals and tales of gallantry at an early age, Lewis’ creativity and powerful imagination manifested in his works of fiction from the moment he began writing.

If you need something to fuel your creativity, why don’t you go over the following C.S. Lewis quotes on creativity?

Don’t use words too big for the subject. Don’t say ‘infinitely’ when you mean ‘very’; otherwise you’ll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.

C.S. Lewis

Don’t say it was delightful; make us say delightful when we’ve read the description. You see, all those words (horrifying, wonderful, hideous, exquisite) are only like saying to your readers. ‘Please will you do the job for me?’

C.S. Lewis

Even in literature and art, no man who bothers with originality will ever be original; whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (withour caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed.

C.S. Lewis

We read to know we are not alone.

C.S. Lewis

You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.

C.S. Lewis

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

C.S. Lewis

Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny…

C.S. Lewis

A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.

C.S. Lewis

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

C.S. Lewis

Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.

C.S. Lewis

There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.

C.S. Lewis

Affection is responsible for nine-tenths of whatever solid and durable happiness there is in our lives.

C.S. Lewis

I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy the most probable explantion is that I was made for another world.

C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis Quotes About Literature

Some writers refuse to recognize Lewis’ impact on literature despite his undeniable popular standing. However, that doesn’t hide how this adept writer’s ideas and writings do not seem to lose their relevance over time. Other influential writers like J.K. Rowling and Philip Pullman even acknowledge his excellence in writing for children, proving his worth in the field.

Furthermore, C.S. Lewis also has quotes about literature, another token to support his contribution to literature.

Literature adds to reality, it does not simply describe it. It enriches the necessary competencies that daily life requires and provides; and in this respect, it irrigates the deserts that our lives have already become.

C.S. Lewis

In great literature, I become a thousand different men but still remain myself.

C.S. Lewis

The world does not need more Christian literature. What it needs is more Christians writing good literature.

C.S. Lewis

Nothing that you have not given away will ever be really yours.

C.S. Lewis

With the possible exception of the equator, everything begins somewhere.

C.S. Lewis

A work of (whatever) art can be either ‘received’ or ‘used’. …’Using’ is inferior to ‘reception’ because art, if used rather than received, merely facilitates, brightens, relieves or palliates our life, and does not add to it … When the art in question is literature a complication arises, for to ‘receive’ significant words is always, in one sense, to ‘use’ them, to go through and beyond them to an imagined something which is not itself verbal.

C.S. Lewis

C.S Lewis’s contribution to literature and quotes on writing remain significant today and will still do in the future. He communicates his logic and imagination with clarity, written or spoken word. As a master in his craft, all types of writers will learn a lot from him. He is indeed one of the most influential writers of his day—his influence going beyond his time.

Need more motivation on writing other than these quotes of C.S Lewis? Check out our selection of quotes on writing from other authors here.

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