Who hasn’t heard of Stephen King? I had never read any of King’s books, but I knew he wrote horror stories and people liked them. I would later be impressed by both how many of his books were made into movies and by recognizing ones I had already seen or were at least aware of.
During one of my classes on having a successful graduate school career, the professor quoted Stephen King while impressing upon us the importance of writing. I’m almost pretty sure he also specifically mentioned King’s memoir On Writing. This alone did not provoke any interest in reading any of Stephen King’s works, but maybe a year later while searching online for other advice on becoming successful in graduate school I saw another recommendation to read King’s autobiography. It’s kind of like following advice told by a stranger even though your mom has been telling you the same thing for years.
Several weeks later, I spent some time in a local bookstore studying and writing. After I had finished for the day and headed towards the exit, I recognized the book On Writing on one of the tables in the middle aisle. I contemplated buying the book for a few minutes and finally decided to purchase the last copy of the book in the store. It was money well spent.
I began reading the book immediately and over the next, maybe two weeks, I would read it during my train rides to and from work, during my “downtime” at work, and times before bed. My reading sessions were often limited to brief spurts, but I was able to read it fairly quickly.
I found the book to be easy and enjoyable to read. It had plenty of good advice. I liked how King described his story writing process. He describes stories as found things rather than creations of a writer. A story is like a fossil and a writer’s job is to unearth it. Some stories are extracted well intact while others are not, but they are still real entities that exist. It’s an interesting concept, but I think it also appealed to me because of its similarity to the scientific process.
Below are a few writing tips that stuck out to me:
- Write a first draft. Just write it. Edit later.
- Write every day!
- Read often too. Stephen King listens to audiobooks in addition to reading hard copies.
- Avoid using adverbs.
With such useful advice from such a highly recommended book, by such a highly successful author, I decided to start reading Stephen King books.