Good evening everyone!
It was very tempting to call this post On On Writing.
Today I want to talk to you about the book called On Writing by Stephen King. A lot of writers read this as they are writing their NaNoWriMo as inspiration to keep them going. Some writers even refer to this book as the bible for all writers. After hearing all this wonderful gushing about the book – and not having read a Stephen King novel before, I decided to dive right in and read this book. I started it, read seventy pages, and then put the book down. I didn’t feel compelled to come back to the book for six months before one day I decided I was going to give it another shot. And on that day? I managed to read the entire book in a single sitting. I did not stop for anything. After that mixed reading experience, I want to share with you why if you’re writing the novel, this book isn’t for you at all, it is perfectly suited to you, and why we should all marry Stephen King’s wife. Well, not actually, but you’ll see what I mean!
WHY YOU SHOULDN’T READ THIS WHILE WRITING
The first reason why you shouldn’t read this while writing, is that the beginning part of this novel tells us about Stephen King’s writing journey and how he came to be published. It doesn’t start as him being an adult and sending off query letters, but can go quite a bit into his childhood and background too. When I first picked up this book, I didn’t expect this section to be in there. I thought it jumped right into the whole writing advice thing – which is why I decided to put the book down. I didn’t mind reading about King’s life, but it wasn’t what I was looking for. And when you’re writing a novel, it might not be what you need to be reading either. Perhaps it would be more worth your time to read a book which jumps right into the writing advice you need.
I was also writing at the time that I was reading this novel, and it made me feel very demotivated. Yes, King wasn’t published the first time he sent off his work to a tradition publisher. But when a company did accept his first novel, well, the figure he got for it was pretty good. King does reassure us that not everyone has such a big first break, but as I was reading, the only thought swirling around my head was that, ‘oh gosh. That’s never going to happen to me!’ Suddenly, I wasn’t up for writing too much. What was the point?
Even then, when I got through all the King’s-life-story bit, I was sorely disappointed with the writing advice. Thanks to endless quotes and this wonderful thing called the Internet, all the tips were things I had already heard before! I had knew all this advice, and therefore I wasn’t learning anything more. The Internet had definitely given me all the spoilers it could possibly cram into my mind. (Don’t worry Internet, I do forgive you.)
WHY YOU DEFINITELY SHOULD READ IT WHILE WRITING
YET, all those reasons aside, you should definitely be reading this one while writing. First and foremost, it does tell you all the writing advice you’ve probably already heard. To his credit, King did say all of this stuff – it just turned up on the internet all over the place as well. But sometimes, in the process of writing, you need age old information you’ve already heard before to be repeated to you in order for it to really hit home. It’s a reminder when it comes to all those tips.
And oh yeah, even though the internet spoiled a lot, it didn’t manage to spoil everything! There were still a lot of tips in there that I am sure some people haven’t heard of, but really could benefit from reading as well. So there is some credit to the writing advice section as well.
Secondly, this book seriously motivated me. Although I did have to get through part one and also the writing advice section (which I enjoyed more than part one), part three was something I didn’t even know ever happened to King. He went through an accident, and I am not going to say more than that because I believe this is something you really need to read for yourself. But it was a seriously moving story, and about how he got back into writing after that. It wasn’t easy. It wasn’t pretty. But he did it. And if he could be at such a low place and still write, guess what? YOU CAN TOO!
And lastly, when I finished the whole book and looked back on part one – all about Stephen King’s life and all – it showed me that you can always be published. It doesn’t matter who you are, or what you’ve done before. There’s a chance out there, and it has your name on it. Whether it’s a big or small break, take all you can.
WHY WE ALL NEED TO MARRY STEPHEN KING’S WIFE. OR WELL, SOMEONE LIKE HER
As I read this book, I got to know Stephen King’s wife a bit through the novel. She was someone who challenged him for the better, who motivated him, and encouraged him to be a better person. She didn’t take any nonsense, and was also a beta reader for basically all his work. Some authors will tell you to have someone you hate, and you should write to defy them and show them what you’ve got. And yes, maybe that is all fine and dandy. But we all need to have someone who is going to support you through the highs, the lows, and will encourage your writing no matter what. They will give you brutal criticism, and tell you what you did well as well. They will be the person who pushes you to your full potential.