C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (1952):
Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it. The principle runs through all life from top to bottom. Give up yourself, and you will find your real self. Lose your life and you will save it. Submit to death, death of your ambitions and favorite wishes every day and death of your whole body in the end: submit with every fibre of your being, and you will find eternal life. Keep back nothing. Nothing that you have not given away will be really yours. Nothing in you that has not died will ever be raised from the dead. Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.
John Henry Newman, personal letter (March 2, 1868; ht: Justin Taylor):
First, a man should be in earnest, by which I mean, he should write, not for the sake of writing, but to bring out his thoughts. He should never aim at being eloquent. He should keep his idea in view, and write sentences over and over again till he has expressed his meaning accurately, forcibly, and in few words. He should aim at being understood by his hearers or readers. He should use words which are most likely to be understood — ornament and amplification will come to him spontaneously in due time, but he should never seek them. He must creep before he can fly, by which I mean that humility, which is a great Christian virtue, has a place in literary composition. He who is ambitious will never write well. But he who tries to say simply and exactly what he feels or thinks, what religion demands, what faith teaches, that the gospel promises, will be eloquent without intending it, and will write better English than if he made a study of English literature.