Richard Peck Writer Quotes

richard Peck writing by lights of bridgesRichard Peck, born April 10, 1934 (age 81)is an American novelist, particularly for young adults. He taught junior high and high school English. He left teaching in 1971 to write his first novel, Don’t Look and It Won’t Hurt,  in 1972, in which “A teenage girl struggles to understand her place within her family and in the world.” He has written a book each year since then, totaling 41 books in 41 years.

When the author is not traveling, he works at an L-shaped desk, which affords a sunny window. He writes everything on an electric typewriter because “it has to be a book from the first day,” he explains. He has no daily routine because of all the traveling he does, but follows a very disciplined writing process. He writes each page six times, then places it in a three-ring binder with a DePauw University cover (“a talisman,” he calls this memento from his alma mater). When he feels that he has gotten a page just right, he takes out another 20 words. “After a year, I’ve come to the end. Then I’ll take this first chapter, and without rereading it, I’ll throw it away and write the chapter that goes at the beginning. Because the first chapter is the last chapter in disguise.” He always hands in a completed manuscript, and his editor is his first reader.

Peck believes each book should be a question, not an answer

Here are some of his quotes:

“Ironically, it was my students who taught me to be a writer, though I had been hired to teach them,” he said in a speech published in Arkansas Libraries.”They taught me that a novel must entertain first before it can be anything else. I learned that there is no such thing as a ‘grade reading level’; a young person’s ‘reading level’ and attention span will rise and fall according to his degree of interest. I learned that if you do not have a happy ending for the young, you had better do some fast talking.”.[citation needed]

“You never write about yourself; you just always wind up having written about yourself.”—Oct 10, 2013, to a library full of 4th graders in Pleasanton, CA.
“Nobody but a reader ever became a writer.” – Aug 5, 2013, SCBWI conference

Information from:


Filed under Quotes for Writers

2 responses to “Richard Peck Writer Quotes

  1. ladywinfred

    Man, oh man, talk about disciplined: Write a page 6 times, take out 20 words then put it away and start on another page. I especially liked the bit about his throwing away the first chapter and writing what should have been there in the first place. Very inspiring — thanks, Jules.


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