Malcolm Gladwell Writing Quotes

Malcolm Gladwell’s bestselling books have helped us see human behavior in a new light. Through his writings, we can learn a lot about what it takes to be successful in whatever we choose to undertake.

His quotes on writing offer insights issues that are important to any aspiring writer including:

  • What it means to be successful
  • How to generate ideas
  • How to write well

If you want to learn how to write from Malcolm Gladwell, check out his writing course on MasterClass. Learn more about MasterClass courses here.

If you want to learn more about Malcolm Gladwell, check out his quick biography.

Quotes on Success

1. It’s not how much money we make that ultimately makes us happy between nine and five. It’s whether or not our work fulfills us. – Outliers

2. My earliest memories of my father are of seeing him work at his desk and realizing that he was happy. I did not know it then, but that was one of the most precious gifts a father can give his child. – Outliers

3. Practice isn’t the thing you do once you’re good. It’s the thing you do that makes you good. – Outliers

4. No one who can rise before dawn three hundred sixty days a year fails to make his family rich. – Outliers

5. I’ve always thought of myself as an insanely lucky person, so perhaps the success of my first two books led me to want to examine this phenomenon on some unconscious level. – Goodreads Interview, 2008

Quotes on Getting Ideas

6. The visionary starts with a clean sheet of paper, and re-imagines the world. The tweaker inherits things as they are, and has to push and pull them toward some more nearly perfect solution. That is not a lesser task. – The New Yorker, 2011

7. It is really about talking to people, having people tell you things. That will always be the most efficient and useful way of finding out new and interesting things. You have to expose yourself to as many interesting people as you can. – Goodreads Interview, 2008

Quotes on How To Write Well

8. Good writing does not succeed or fail on the strength of its ability to persuade. It succeeds or fails on the strength of its ability to engage you, to make you think, to give you a glimpse into someone else’s head What The Dog Saw

9. You don’t start at the top if you want to find the story. You start in the middle, because it’s the people in the middle who do the actual work in the world. What The Dog Saw

10. The trick to finding ideas is to convince yourself that everyone and everything has a story to tell. I say trick but what I mean is challenge, because it’s a very hard thing to do. Our instinct as humans, after all, is to assume that most things are not interesting.  What The Dog Saw

11. My writing model is my mother, who is a writer as well. She always valued clarity and simplicity above all else. If someone doesn’t understand what you’re writing, then everything else you do is superfluous. – Goodreads Interview, 2008

12. If any thoughtful, curious reader finds what I do impenetrable, I’ve failed. – Goodreads Interview, 2008

13. There’s no idea that can’t be explained to a thoughtful 14-year-old. If the thoughtful 14-year-old doesn’t get it, it is your fault, not the 14-year-old’s. I think that’s a very important fact. – Goodreads Interview, 2008

14. We have, as human beings, a storytelling problem. We’re a bit too quick to come up with explanations for things we don’t really have an explanation for. – Blink

15. Clear writing is universal. People talk about writing down to an audience or writing up to an audience; I think that’s nonsense. – Goodreads Interview, 2008

16. If you write in a way that is clear, transparent, and elegant, it will reach everyone. – Goodreads Interview, 2008

Quotes on Malcolm Gladwell’s Writing Process

17. I don’t go to an office, so I write at home. I like to write in the morning, if possible; that’s when my mind is freshest. – Goodreads Interview, 2008

18. I might write for a couple of hours, and then I head out to have lunch and read the paper. Then I write for a little bit longer if I can, then probably go to the library or make some phone calls. Every day is a little bit different.  – Goodreads Interview, 2008

19. I’m not highly routinized, so I spend a lot of time wandering around New York City with my laptop in my bag, wondering where I’m going to end up next. It’s a fairly idyllic life for someone who likes writing. – Goodreads Interview, 2008

20. As a writer…you write a first draft and then put it in a drawer. The longer I can put it in a drawer, the better off I am. So I structure my writing so that things can sit. – Interview Magazine, 2017

Bonus Quotes

21. I think when one’s working, one works between absolute confidence and absolute doubt, and I got a huge dollop of each. What The Dog Saw

22. Words belong to the person who wrote them What The Dog Saw

23. I write these books to challenge my own feelings and theories. – Goodreads Interview, 2008

24. My highest compliment is when someone comes up to me to say, “My 14-year-old daughter, or my 12-year-old son read your book and loved it.” I cannot conceive of a greater compliment than that – Goodreads Interview, 2008

Further Reading

If you loved the quotes by Malcolm Gladwell, check out the huge collection of writing quotes below. The collection features the best quotes by some of the most famous writers such as Steven Pressfield, Margaret Atwood, Dan Brown, and Jeff Goins among many more.

The quotes are full of valuable advice for any aspiring writer.

If you are struggling to create a business around your writing and need some encouragement, read the quotes below.

  • Sources Cited for Malcolm Gladwell’s Quotes

Blink (2007) Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking

Goodreads Interview (2008) Interview with Malcolm Gladwell

Interview Magazine (2017) Brit Marling

Outliers (2011) Outliers: The Story of Success

The New Yorker (2011) The Tweaker

What the Dog Saw (2010) What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures