I came across this huge compilation of Mark Twain quotes the other day, and in reading them I noticed that a surprising number of them sounded like particularly good advice for journalists -- so I am founding the Mark Twain School of Journalism right here on mental_floss. Class is in session! And for your first assignment, many, many quotes attributed to Mark Twain were not actually said by him, so fact-check me:
- "Write without pay until somebody offers to pay you. If nobody offers within three years, sawing wood is what you were intended for."
- "Only presidents, editors and people with tapeworm have the right to use the editorial 'we'."
- "I don't give a damn for a man who can spell a word only one way."
- "It is by the fortune of God that, in this country, we have three benefits: freedom of speech, freedom of thought, and the wisdom never to use either."
- "I have a higher and greater standard of principle. Washington could not lie. I can lie but I won't."
- "Get your facts first and then you can distort them as much as you wish."
- "The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug."
- "Why shouldn't truth be stranger than fiction? Fiction, after all, has to make sense."
- "I didn't have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead."
- "Substitute "damn" every time you're inclined to write "very"; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be."
- "My books are water; those of the great geniuses are wine. Fortunately, everybody drinks water."
- "Honesty was the best policy."
- "Honesty: The best of all the lost arts."
- "It is wiser to find out than to suppose."
Well, that just about does it for this article....
"The time to begin writing an article is when you have finished it to your satisfaction."