On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

Stephen King is a master of the craft!

on writingWhile traveling to Washington, D.C. recently, I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the audio-book version of On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King.  I could literally hear Stephen King’s “voice” in my head as I drove to Quantico, VA and then boarded the train to Union Station. That may have been because he narrated the book himself. To be honest, it was not what I expected at all.

Memoir of the Craft

This “memoir” was broken up into several sections, with the earlier sections devoted to different parts of his life. The last sections are devoted to his advice on the craft of writing. The chapters are preceded by three forewords. This memoir was fascinating to listen to. I was amazed by the way that King wove stories of his life, his craft, and advice to new writers together through the pages. It was inspiring to listen to what he went through to become the success he is today and to hear about how he struggled and worked hard for that success.

King’s advice on the “how-to’s” and “what to avoid” were very practical to a new writer. The term “actionable” comes to mind. It was also very interesting to get his views on writing classes and groups. They mirrored a decision I had recently come to. The important thing is just to write, as much and as often as you can. You should also read a great deal. I liked his comments about those who want to be a writer but are too busy to read.

Stephen King’s memoir, On Writing, is a fascinating and helpful book for both aspiring and experienced authors. It explores writing, the writer’s tool box, and the writing life.  I enjoyed listening to this book very much because I have always loved to read  … and now love to write.

On Writing: A Few Tools for the Writer’s Tool Box.

I am not going to go into great detail here. If you want that, read or listen to the book. But here are a few tips that might whet your appetite.

  • Identify your ideal reader. That one person you are writing the story for. For Stephen King, it’s his wife Tabitha.
  • Shut the door each day and keep it shut until your goal is met. Television is a distraction and a great time waster.
  • Plot and theme may not be the “be all and end all” of successful writing. Create a situation and let the story unfold. Let your characters tell you the story.

Hindsight is always 20/20, but I wish I had read his book before starting my novel, Serpents Underfoot. Don’t get me wrong. I think it’s a great read, if I may say so myself. And, everyone who has read Serpents Underfoot seems to agree. In fact, I wrote my novel more or less in the way he describes writing should be done. It is just that there were a lot of tips and advice in his book that could have made the writing process smoother and given me a greater understanding of my initial faltering steps in developing my own skills in this craft called writing. These tips will certainly help in my future projects.

4 thoughts on “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King”

  1. Great review D.C. I recently heard about King’s book and put it on my list. I’m even more excited to read it now that I read your review. It sounds fascinating. I agree about his (and your) tips about writing. The more we write the better we can become. Reading is a great way to learn how to write better too. Reading and writing go hand in hand. Thanks!

    1. Hey Dutch, Thanks for your comment. I do highly recommend the book. Several writers I have spoken with recommended reading it 3 or 4 times because of all the great advice and tips found within its pages. I don’t think I will have much trouble doing that at all!

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