Anaïs Nin Quotes on Writing, Life, and Love

Anais Nin

Anaïs Nin (1903-1977)  was best known for her multi-volume Diary of Anaïs Nin, which became an iconic series of writings in feminist literature. She was a splendid essayist as well.

Hers was the very embodiment of a passion-fueled writing life. Born in France in 1903, Nin spent her teens living in the U.S., becoming self-educated and working as a model and dancer before returning to Europe in the 1920s.

From the earliest of her diaries, written while still in her teens, to one of her last essays, published just a year before her death in 1977, it’s clear that writing was what she believed shaped her life and gave it meaning.

Though it’s generally believed that she wrote her Diaries with an eye toward eventual publication, it wasn’t until the 1960s that they were published and acclaimed as feminist classics, portraying one woman’s lifelong voyage of self-discovery.   

Decades of writing accompanied by scant publication success is ample proof that passion was the main ingredient in her steadfast devotion to the craft. So when Nin examined the “why” of writing, it wasn’t for money, fame, or glory. Rather, it filled a need as elemental as breathing, and that’s what worked for her.

For Anaïs Nin, writing was as much a necessity as breathing. Here are some of her quotes on writing, life, and love:

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“I am resolved to write, write, and write. Nothing can turn me away from a path I have definitely set myself to follow.” (The Early Diaries, 1921)

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“We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.”

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“I am aware of being in a beautiful prison, of which I can only escape by writing.”

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“Life shrinks or expands according to one’s courage.”

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“The personal life deeply lived always expands into truths beyond itself.”

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“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

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Anais Nin quote on blossoming

You might also like: Anaïs Nin: Writing to Find Meaning in Life

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“Anxiety is love’s greatest killer. It creates the failures. It makes others feel as you might when a drowning man holds on to you. You want to save him, but you know he will strangle you with his panic.” (February, 1947)

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“How quickly the minutes fly when you are writing to please your heart. I pity those who write for money or for fame. Money is debasing, and fame transitory and exacting. But for your own heart…Oh, what a difference!” (The Early Diaries , entry dated October, 1921)

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“I believe I could never exhaust the supply of material lying within me. The deeper I plunge, the more I discover. There is no bottom to my heart and no limit to the acrobatic feats of my imagination.” (The Early Diaries, Entry dated 1921)

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“… You don’t write for yourself or for others. You write out of a deep inner necessity. If you are a writer, you have to write, just as you have to breathe, or if you’re a singer you have to sing. (“The Artist as Magician,” interview, 1973)

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“Love never dies a natural death. It dies because we don’t know how to replenish its source. It dies of blindness and errors and betrayals. It dies of illness and wounds; it dies of weariness, of witherings, of tarnishings.”

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Anais Nin

Incest: From a Journal of Love by Anaïs Nin

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“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.”

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“I didn’t have any particular gift in my twenties. I didn’t have any exceptional qualities. It was the persistence and the great love of my craft which finally became a discipline, which finally made me a craftsman and a writer.”  (“The Personal Life Deeply Lived”)

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“How wrong is it for a woman to expect the man to build the world she wants, rather than to create it herself?”

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“If you do not breathe through writing, if you do not cry out in writing, or sing in writing, then don’t write, because our culture has no use for it.”

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Anais Nin

 The Early Diaries of Anaïs Nin: A Writer Unsure of Herself

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“The role of a writer is not to say what we can all say, but what we are unable to say.”

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“I believe one writes because one has to create a world in which one can live. I could not live in any of the worlds offered to me … I had to create a world of my own, like a climate, a country, an atmosphere in which I could breathe, reign, and recreate myself when destroyed by living.  (In Favor of the Sensitive Man and Other Essays, 1976)

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“We do not grow absolutely, chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another; unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative. We are mature in one realm, childish in another. The past, present, and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, or fix us in the present. We are made up of layers, cells, constellations.”

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“You don’t find love, it finds you. It’s got a little bit to do with destiny, fate, and what’s written in the stars.”

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“The possession of knowledge does not kill the sense of wonder and mystery. There is always more mystery.”

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“Throw your dreams into space like a kite, and you do not know what it will bring back, a new life, a new friend, a new love, a new country.”

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The early diaries of Anais Nin

Anaïs Nin page on Amazon


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2 Responses to “Anaïs Nin Quotes on Writing, Life, and Love”

  1. So happy to have found LLG through searching for an Anais Nin quotation. Thanks for all you are and do to inspire, inform, and unite writers.

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