Lou's Reviews > On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

On Writing by Stephen King
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Sep 25, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: november-read-2011, writing, non-fiction
Read in November, 2011

This is a must read for writers, readers and Stephen King fans.
Fully laden with inspiration to walk the walk and start that journey of writing a story of you're own from short story to a full novel. Imagine great writers of the past like Dickens around to give advice to aspiring writers it's a real opportunity to grasp.

This man, Stephen King, worked hard to make himself into a writer and had sheer determination, from working all hours to pay his college education to writing his first stories in a trailer. He was a single parent child with one brother. His life story is what dreams are made of, he defeated the single parent upbringing stereotype and made things work. When he was awaiting that call from his agent on selling the paperback rights for Carrie he was only expecting around a $40'000 mark and received an astonishing $400'000 payout. He really loves to write and does mention it was 'never about the money.' His marriage is solid and that helped his career, he met his wife Tabitha at a poetry workshop and both their loves for writing was an important ingredient to their marriage.
From a millworker to one of the greatest writers. He had written Running Man in a week and writes one word at a time, he tells us in his book that it's all about the story never the plot.
Write what you know, fresh images and simple vocabulary believable characters graceful narration, and truth telling all the hallmarks of good writing.
It is really nice to hear him say that if you don't have time to read you don't have time to write, a bad story can teach the reader so much on how not to write a story. Reading is an essential core to successful story writing. As I ponder all this advice I am also looking to try and start writing a story.
He says that 1000 words a day is good and to all importantly have that room to write, cut yourself off from distractions, immerse yourself and close that door to the world and write one word at a time.

It was interesting to hear of his time in London at The Brown's Hotel. He wrote at Rudyard Kipling's desk the first words of his novel Misery.
Here is a photo of the table and what he said.
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
"I wrote most of Misery by hand, sitting at Kipling's desk in Brown's Hotel in London.....Then I found out he died at the desk. That spooked me, so I quit the hotel."
---From a 1998 interview with journalist Peter Conrad

Close that door, close out the world and immerse yourself in writing your story!

Some quotes from the book.

"Read to measure ourselves against the good and the greats and to what can be done."

"If you don't have the time to read you don't have the time to write."

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
REVIEWHERE TOO.
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Quotes Lou Liked

Stephen King
“The road to hell is paved with adverbs.”
Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

Stephen King
“If you're just starting out as a writer, you could do worse than strip your television's electric plug-wire, wrap a spike around it, and then stick it back into the wall. See what blows, and how far. Just an idea.”
Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

Stephen King
“Writing isn't about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it's about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well. It's about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy.”
Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

Stephen King
“I like to get ten pages a day, which amounts to 2,000 words. That’s 180,000 words over a three-month span, a goodish length for a book — something in which the reader can get happily lost, if the tale is done well and stays fresh.”
Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

Stephen King
“Description begins in the writer’s imagination, but should finish in the reader’s.”
Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

Stephen King
“The scariest moment is always just before you start.”
Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

Stephen King
“you can, you should, and if you’re brave enough to start, you will.”
Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

Stephen King
“Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open.”
Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

Stephen King
“So okay― there you are in your room with the shade down and the door shut and the plug pulled out of the base of the telephone. You've blown up your TV and committed yourself to a thousand words a day, come hell or high water. Now comes the big question: What are you going to write about? And the equally big answer: Anything you damn well want.”
Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

Stephen King
“Bad writing is more than a matter of shit syntax and faulty observation; bad writing usually arises from a stubborn refusal to tell stories about what people actually do― to face the fact, let us say, that murderers sometimes help old ladies cross the street.”
Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft


Reading Progress

11/11 page 30
10.0%
11/11 page 150
51.0% "Inspiring, King was such a hard worker and striver since his youth."
03/18 marked as: read
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Comments (showing 1-12 of 12) (12 new)

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Erin ☕ *Proud Book Hoarder* I highly recommend this one. It was half autobiography, half writing advice. Wish it was heavier on the biography just because I find the segments on his life fascinating, his enthusiasm for cinema and books and all the childhood stuff was convincing through the pages.


message 2: by Jim (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jim I listened to this & wished just the opposite of Erin. His whining over being hit by the guy in the van was very distracting. With the title of the book, it wasn't what I was expecting.

Before anyone jumps salty, I agree that getting hit sucked for King. I just didn't think this book was the place for him to complain about it. And, yes, I did feel that he was whining. Bad things happen to good people all the time. It sucks, but it happened. Suck it up & move on.


Rachel I agree with Jim that the tone of the book does change post-accident. Although, to me he comes off less "whiny" and more bitter which I kind of expect seeing as he was writing about his accident so soon after it happened. The emotional healing hadn't had time to happen.


message 4: by Lou (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lou Interesting.


Erin ☕ *Proud Book Hoarder* Yes its true about the accident, I think he did vent in the book. I didnt realize the details were so bad though with his injuries so put it more to that.


message 6: by Mark (new)

Mark Great review. It's a tremendous book on the art and craft of writing, and it made me appreciate King in whole new ways. I didn't see the stuff about the accident as being at all "whining"--I think it was the accident that gave King a focus he'd never had before. I do feel King can be way too verbose and wordy: I have read several of his novels and for each of them I wished it had been shorter and more tightly edited. Interestingly, the short stories he wrote after the accident (e.g., those published in THE NEW YORKER) are some of his best and tightest work. And also some of his most literary. (Sorry, I do cop to that prejudice.) Finally, I have stayed at the lovely Brown's hotel myself, and am disappointed I never realized that either Kipling or King had preceded me there!


message 7: by Lou (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lou Mark wrote: "Great review. It's a tremendous book on the art and craft of writing, and it made me appreciate King in whole new ways. I didn't see the stuff about the accident as being at all "whining"--I thin..."

True about his wordiness, The Dark Tower series is a good example of him getting too wordy, in the 4th book and I am finding now in the fifth book, he does not get to the point and looses the readers interest, rambles on.
I think the Kipling desk is in a special suite for VIP guests and not available for guest viewing.


message 8: by Tilly (new) - added it

Tilly Slaton Fantastic book


message 9: by Dan (new) - rated it 4 stars

Dan Schwent This is one of my two favorite books about writing.


message 10: by Mark (new)

Mark Dan, what is the other?


message 12: by Mark (new)

Mark Super--I've heard great things about that, and I bet Block would be instructive and entertaining on the topic.


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