15 Haruki Murakami Quotes On Writing, Because No One Understands The Craft Quite Like He Does

It seems like every year, one particular name comes up when talking about potential Nobel Prize winners: Haruki Murakami. He has yet to win, and perhaps he never will, but Haruki Murakami quotes on writing prove that he takes his craft very seriously. No one talks about writing quite like he does.

A Japanese-born author, Murakami didn't start writing until he was 29 when, during a baseball game, he had an epiphany, thinking to himself, "I think I can write a novel." He went straight home from the game and began what would become Hear the Wind Sing. Since then, he has penned over 20 books ranging from sci-fi novels to fantastical short story collections to humorous nonfiction. His work has been translated into 50 languages, and in the 37 years since breaking into the international literary scene, has sold millions of copies on several continents. Could you think of a better writing mentor, than someone with those merits? I didn't think so.

Here are 15 Haruki Murakami quotes on writing that will convince you the author deserves the Nobel Prize. Will 2016 be his year to take it home? This fan certainly hopes so.

1. “Writing novels is much the same. You gather up bones and make your gate, but no matter how wonderful the gate might be, that alone doesn't make it a living breathing novel. A story is not something of this world. A real story requires a kind of magical baptism to link the world on this side with the world on the other side.”

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2. “A short story I have written long ago would barge into my house in the middle of the night, shake me awake and shout, 'Hey,this is no time for sleeping! You can't forget me, there's still more to write!' Impelled by that voice, I would find myself writing a novel. In this sense, too, my short stories and novels connect inside me in a very natural, organic way.”

3. “It's a dark, cool, quiet place. A basement in your soul. And that place can sometimes be dangerous to the human mind. I can open the door and enter that darkness, but I have to be very careful. I can find my story there. Then I bring that thing to the surface, into the real world. ”

4. "I know how fiction matters to me, because if I want to express myself, I have to make up a story. Some people call it imagination. To me, it’s not imagination. It’s just a way of watching."

5. "There’s no such thing as perfect writing, just like there’s no such thing as perfect despair."


6. “Memory is like fiction; or else it's fiction that's like memory. This really came home to me once I started writing fiction, that memory seemed a kind of fiction, or vice versa. Either way, no matter how hard you try to put everything neatly into shape, the context wanders this way and that, until finally the context isn't even there anymore. You're left with this pile of kittens lolling all over one another. Warm with life, hopelessly unstable. And then to put these things out as saleable items, you call them finished products - at times it's downright embarrassing just to think of it. Honestly, it can make me blush.”

7. “I often recall these words when I am writing, and I think to myself, 'It’s true. There aren’t any new words. Our job is to give new meanings and special overtones to absolutely ordinary words.' I find the thought reassuring. It means that vast, unknown stretches still lie before us, fertile territories just waiting for us to cultivate them.”

8. “I think memory is the most important asset of human beings. It’s a kind of fuel; it burns and it warms you. My memory is like a chest: There are so many drawers in that chest, and when I want to be a fifteen-year-old boy, I open up a certain drawer and I find the scenery I saw when I was a boy in Kobe. I can smell the air, and I can touch the ground, and I can see the green of the trees. That’s why I want to write a book.”

9. “I find writing novels a challenge, writing stories a joy. If writing novels is like planting a forest, then writing short stories is more like planting a garden.”


10. "When I start to write, I don’t have any plan at all. I just wait for the story to come. I don’t choose what kind of story it is or what’s going to happen."

11. Every time I write a book I put my feet in different shoes. Because sometimes I am tired of being myself. This way I can escape. It’s a fantasy. If you can’t have a fantasy, what’s the point of writing a book

12. When I write about a 15-year old, I jump, I return to the days when I was that age. It’s like a time machine. I can remember everything. I can feel the wind. I can smell the air. Very actually. Very vividly.

13. "Every writer has his writing technique – what he can and can’t do to describe something like war or history. I’m not good at writing about those things, but I try because I feel it is necessary to write that kind of thing."


14. “Dreaming is the day job of novelists, but sharing our dreams is a still more important task for us. We cannot be novelists without this sense of sharing something.”

15. “My short stories are like soft shadows I have set out in the world, faint footprints I have left. I remember exactly where I set down each and every one of them, and how I felt when I did. Short stories are like guideposts to my heart...”