Stephen King – On Writing – Review

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To say that this book [re]inspired me to write would be an understatement. I’ve been on the verge of a new creative journey for a while (a novel, I think, at last), and this work has been instrumental to that end. I think it helped me to realize that the “writer’s club” isn’t some snooty lofty group of people that I could never break into… this book makes that world feel all the more accessible and like home. Obviously I don’t know Stephen King personally, but a humbleness came through in this book, which I found especially powerful.

The Life of a Writer

I’ve always admired the way that Stephen King can keep things moving in his stories without it seeming forced… I nearly finished Carrie in one day. But I also think, beyond that, I relate to Stephen King’s personal experiences in his own life and how he asserts that bits and pieces of a writer’s life are always in their books–how could they not be? Writing (or any art I suppose) can help bring you back to life, King mentions, and that has certainly been the case for me over the years. Writing, even when it was about absolutely nothing, helped get me through the worst times of my life.

My Own Thoughts On Writing

Whenever I embark on a creative project, especially writing, I can find myself paralyzed with possibility, fear that I’ll be made fun of and all of those lovely things … but when I know I have some snapshots or nuggets that are indeed very good that could be woven into a story … it is like magic. The below quote seems to capture that for me.

Something so fragile and yet full of possibility that you are frightened

When I feel full of possibility in any regard in my life, I oftentimes become frightened, afraid of tainting it. But more recently I have just been trying to go with the flow… unearthing fossils, as King calls it, of stories that have likely been buried in me for a very long time.

Specific Tips on Writing from The Book

In this memoir of the craft, King eloquently articulates just the tips that I needed to hear about not using passive voice, interweaving (just enough) backstory, making sure not to be self-indulgent with details, not feeling like you NEED a full outline before you start, sticking to a reading/writing regimen, and the list goes on. If you fancy yourself a competent, maybe even good, writer, I think you’ll find what you’ve been looking for in this book. It provides almost a meta cognition template for thinking about writing projects, what to pay attention in terms of overarching things, but fine details as well. I also thoroughly appreciate the recommended books list at the end. Here are some more specific tips I found particularly helpful:

  • Never tell a thing you can show
  • Adverbs are the devil (e.g., “I never,” Fitzgerald importantly ejaculated.)
  • The look of lines/paragraphs on the page matters for the reader’s experience
  • Bad dialogue can kill
  • The best stories are character driven rather than plot driven
  • Shut the door when you’re writing, metaphorically and literally, so that outside things won’t influence you
  • Be wary of people reading your work too soon, it may stifle your creativity if they give you feedback asking for explanations you haven’t unearthed yet

I’m sure I’m missing many more tips, but those are the ones that readily came to mind and were in my scribbles. I’ll definitely be holding on to this book forever. I’ll leave you fine feathered writers with a last quote:

Writing had helped me get over–had helped me forget myself for at least a little while.

I’ve always felt this way and I think from now on I’ll make sure it is a priority in my life.

 

Much love to you

Natalie

 

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