Summer reading: advice on writing by famous writer

Summer reading: advice on writing by famous writer

«Life isn’t a support-system for art. It’s the other way around.»

On Writing, Stephen King

During the course of this week, I’ve read a new type of book for me: On writing, by Stephen King. This book is «a memoir of the craft», with the writer recounting some of his life experiences and how they shaped him, as well as providing some writing advice. While it is, of course, an entertaining and informative read, maybe what I appreciate the most is being able to get into a writer’s head. What can I find that we have in common? And in which ways do we think differently?

If you are an aspiring writer, you haven’t read a tone of advice before (how striking and new can advice sound these days, anyway?) and have nothing against the author, I’d tell you to grab a copy and get ready to face some truths.

And, in case you are hesitant, here I highlight those bits and pieces that I particularly loved:

  • «There’s no Idea Dump, no Story Central, no Island of the Buried Bestsellers; good story ideas seem to come quite literally from nowhere, sailing at you right out of the empty sky: two previously unrelated ideas come together and make something new under the sun. Your job isn’t to find these ideas but to recognize them when they show up.»
  • «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.»
  • «Writing is a lonely job. Having someone who believes in you makes a lot of difference. They don’t have to make speeches. Just believing is usually enough.»
  • «[…] stopping a piece of work just because it’s hard, either emotionally or imaginatively, is a bad idea. Sometimes you have to go on when you don’t feel like it, and sometimes you’re doing good work when it feels like all you’re managing is to shovel shit from a sitting position.»
  • «Life isn’t a support-system for art. It’s the other way around.»
  • «If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.»
  • «If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that. Reading is the creative center of a writer’s life.»
  • «But once your basic story is on paper, you need to think about what it means and enrich your following drafts with your conclusions. To do less is to rob your work (and eventually your readers) of the vision that makes each tale you write uniquely your own.»
  • «Do all opinions weigh the same? Not for me. In the end I listen most closely to Tabby, because she’s the one I write for, the one I want to wow. If you’re writing primarily for one person besides yourself, I’d advise you to pay very close attention to that person’s opinion […]. And if what you hear makes sense, then make the changes. You can’t let the whole world into your story, but you can let in the ones that matter the most. And you should.»
  • «2nd draft= 1st draft – 10%»

And now, go write or go read some more.

Or go live, because that’s really what we are here for. 💃

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