I’ve not posted much recently. I have been heads down writing and reading to improve my craft. One of the books I’ve read is Stephen King’s On Writing. As a maturing writer, I’m attentive to writing, but also writers. I have long avoided this book because I really do not care for King’s writing. And to be honest, after having read this, I still don’t care for his novel writing.
What a great book about his life and how he thinks about writing. That said, I really did not detect much writing advice other than be concise, avoid adverbs like the plague (though he does use them to some extent in his own fiction), pace is not everything, don’t bore the reader, and if you want to learn how to write then write…all the time. There was a bit more, but this was the essence of it.
What I really enjoyed was King, how he matured into a writer, his early success and failures, what he learned and how. These are the things that this book is really about. You can learn a lot about how to write by studying him more than his writing.
I loved his work ethic, his unrelenting love for his wife and how they have shaped and helped each other, his emphasis on writing because he loves to write, his blunt honesty about his own success and failures, good decisions and bad, his early years (especially how some of those scenes fueled the horror scenes he wrote later), his disdain for the arrogant literary community, his views on writing workshops and critique feedback, etc.
I thought it all very refreshing because there was no pretentious bullshit like you so often read especially from authors that try to use such things to puff themselves up, increase their stature and drive more sales. This book does all those things for King because this is a real view of King as he is in all of his humanity.
Read King’s On Writing
Writers at all levels and ages would do well to read this book. It’s not the only book you should read, but it is one of a small number that should be read to not only gain insight into the craft, but to also gain insight into a writer’s life and how to use that to fuel and improve your fiction.