April 2008 • Journal 01 • Issue 01

“On Writing” – Stephen King

On Writing by Stephen King

  • Title: On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
  • Author: Stephen King
  • Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket; Reprint edition (July 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743455967
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743455961

I am not a Stephen King fan. I don’t like scary movies and not surprisingly have never been interested in reading any of his books. However, I have heard that as a writer he is rather amazing. So, when I heard good reviews of his book on the process of writing, I thought he deserved a shot. It was the right call.

Far more than a textbook, this is a story-driven invitation to consider his development as a writer, the practices that shape the rhythms of his writing, and his insights into what makes for good and bad writing. Yes, sometimes he is a bit crass and certainly he is focused on writing fiction, but the book is loaded with lessons and ideas that have implications for everyone who writes. I loved his notion that writing is magic-a form of telepathy. The thoughts, ideas, and images in the mind of the writer are teleported through the page into the mind of the reader. In the end, people you have never met are touched through the magic of what you write. The book includes his insights on:

  • when and where to write
  • where good ideas come from
  • daily practices that make a difference
  • the role of vocabulary, grammar, etc.
  • the relationship between the first draft and the re-writing processes

My personal bias is that non-fiction writers would do well to consider how to better tell stories. Decide for yourself, but if you have contemplated any significant writing, it is a worthy read.

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