Originally posted at my blog Chasing Empty Pavements
Umm... why have I not read this book in its entirety before? I feel like I wasn't truly a writer until I read this one front to back. I've had several fiction/creative writing classes that used part of On Writing as a "tool" (pun intended) to help students with the writing process. Honestly, I have no clue why I didn't read the entire thing until now. Maybe, I felt I had better things to read, or write or do. Now I know that was a huge mistake. By far, the best "writing" manual I've read.
The Good: Well the first thing I loved about this book and almost all of Stephen King's fiction is his ability to put it all out there. He even admits that what he's writing... it could be complete crap or it could actually be useful morsels of information...he is Stephen King and all. I love his humor, crass and even the times when I didn't necessarily agree with what he was saying, he said it in a way that was so...straight forward that you couldn't help but appreciate what he said anyways. He doesn't sugarcoat anything, but he's also one of those writers that knows sometimes people make things way harder than they need to be. I love that he's honest about where he started, how he got his start and his own writing process. So many authors these days seem like a mystery. They either have this magical beginning that seemed to bloom for them, or they are a Cinderella story (Amanda Hocking anyone?). I also really enjoyed getting to know Stephen King a little better. I was reading his books before I could even really understand what some of them were about. I think above everything though, this novel is just a down to earth guide for writers. I really gleaned a lot from this Mr. King's memoir/writing guide, and I truly do think every *serious* writer should have to read it. I'd like to share a few of my favorite words of wisdom from the master of horror.
**This one reminds me of my fiance
"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" -pg. 74
"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." -pg. 77-78
"You must not come lightly to the blank page." -pg. 106
"The best from of dialogue attribution is said." -pg. 127
"Good writing is often about letting go of fear and affection." -pg. 128
"If you don't want to work your ass off, you have no business trying to write well"- pg. 144
"If you want to be a writer, you do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot." -pg. 145
"Quite often the bad books teach you more than the good ones."-pg 145
"The Grapes of Wrath may fill a new writer with feelings of despair and good old-fashioned jealously-- "I'll never be able to write anything that good, not if I live to be a a thousand--" but such feelings can also serve as a spur, goading the writer to work harder and aim higher."- pg.146
"You cannot hope to sweep someone else away by the force of your writing until it has been done to you."- pg. 146
"When you find something at which you are talented, you do it (whatever it is) until your fingers bleed or your eyes are ready to fall out of your head."- pg 150
The Bad: Really there isn't anything "bad" about this book. Mainly, I would have liked a little more guidance or direction in terms of writing. I mean, he does touch on things like character, plot, dialogue but I would have liked to have some more words of wisdom from someone who has written over 50 novels and obviously loves the craft.
Overall, this was an absolutely brilliant read. I highly recommend it for readers and writers alike. Even if you aren't interested in writing or the process, getting a little bit personal with Stephen King is worth this read.