Stephen King - On Writing (9)

Stephen King’s On Writing is part memoir, part “how to write” manual. I’ve seen it referenced a million times, and it seemed like a good follow up to Patti Smith’s writing-in-a-coffee-shop memoir. This book deserves the love it gets. 

The first half of the book is entirely memoir, which introduces people like me to the writer and would appeal to fans who don’t care a whit about writing. 

The second half is the writing tutorial. The gist is: read a lot; learn the basics of grammar and structure so you have control; write the first draft without concern for what anyone else might think; then edit ruthlessly. 

Favourite Quotes

“When you write a story, you’re telling yourself the story,” he said. “When you rewrite, your main job is taking out all the things that are not the story.”
One of the really bad things you can do to your writing is to dress up the vocabulary, looking for long words because you’re maybe a little bit ashamed of your short ones. This is like dressing up a household pet in evening clothes.



It’s a blue collar approach to writing, geared more towards describing how a solid writer can develop her skill and win the chance to keep writing. It’s not about the product so much as it’s about creating the conditions whereby someone who wants to write gets to spend most her time doing just that.

This approach likely offends people who want to write the Greatest Novel of Our Time. Given the choice, I’d take doing something I love for the rest of my life over hitting the jackpot one single time. 

What’s Next?

Dunno. I figured a Stephen King novel would be a good follow up, but the Audiobooks are unlistenable. I need to cross back over to audiobooks, but don’t know where to go from here.