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Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Reflecting on Stephen King's On Writing

The Book: On Writing
Author: Stephen King
Genre: Memoir, Instructional texts, self-help
Target audience: Aspiring writers

I didn't really feel like I could review this book because the reason I was reading it was to find writing salvation. Or at the very least find out why so many writers recommend it to aspiring writers. I do want to share my thoughts on what I've learnt from this book because you might decide it could be helpful to you too.

This book taught me that:
  • My way of writing is okay. I'm not a plotter. I can't write a story when I've mapped out chapter by chapter what happens. It just doesn't work for me. I prefer to start with an imaginative photograph of a scene and then let the story unravel from there as I type. Apparently this does not mean I'm a failure. Phew!
  • I must write every day. Especially when I don't feel like it to keep my characters fresh in my mind. I am so trying to do this even if I only manage 200 words. I have only missed one day out of the last 20 and that was because I was at a wedding.
  • I must already have some of the skills I need because I understood all of the talk about grammar and vocabularly. Apparently my English degree wasn't a huge waste of time and money after all.
  • I must write with the door of my study closed for my first draft and resist temptations to show it to my sister. (That is a tough one but I totally agree with Mr King that it has a weird effect on me).
  • I must turn off the internet before I start writing to minimise distractions. (That is a lot easier than it sounds but I've done it two days in a row! Go me!)
  • I must keep reading! (So pleased that I have permission to read at least 80 books per year and that this is not wasting my writing time. I love this one Mr King. Thank you very much for this. I think perhaps it will be my salvation.)
Yep, this book is really good for learning about writing. Plus it has some really funny anecdotes from Stephen's childhood. I love it!


Christina/Book Addict said...

Sounds like a really helpful book. I had no idea you were writing something. Can you spare any details? I think turning off the internet would be a MUST for me---it always distracts me!

Shweta said...

Hey Becky , you know what I am reading this book at the moment. Not that I am planning to write a book or anything but just to improve my skills ( at least to write decent enough so that no one squirms when they read my reviews:) )

You have been writing ? I didn't know that!

Allie said...

On Writing is one of those books that is always on my desk, especially when I am writing. It is just so inspiring.

Nina said...

I didn't know you where writing something. Can you tell us more?? :)
Sounds like a great book for aspiring writers.

Charlotte (The Book on the Hill) said...

I didn't know you were writing ! I had never heard of this book, it does sound really helpful and interesting. I love your thoughts on it. And I'm glad you're still allowed to read, what would we do without your reviews ? :)

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

Cute review! :) I've heard about this one.

Carla said...

I have seen so many authors recommend this book for writers because the advice is amazing. I'm glad that you took something from it. i may have to purchase this in the future.

Caroline said...

Oh Becky! you totally sold me on that one !!!
Great post ;-)

Lauren said...

This is very useful. I think I need to get this one. Although I hope he says it's okay to be a plotter too, because that seat-of-your-pants writing is impossible for me. And the permission to read a huge amount of books? Awesome.

Luisa at Chicklish said...

It's definitely a great book for writers. Happy writing, Becky!

Megan Hoover-Swicegood said...

I loved this book. It was funny and realistic. I like how he says writing is a job and you have to treat it that way. So true. So many people romanticize writing and sit around waiting for their great inspiration and mad dash through the night. It just doesn't work that way. I think this is a great book for writers. Don't miss Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott either - also a great book for writers.

Keith Charters said...

Becky, you're spot on with this. The middle chapters - the 'Here's How To Write' bit - tell you about as much as any tutor can about the craft. I read it a few years ago and don't think I've used an adverb since. Ok, I have, but I do always ask myself 'do I really need this?' first.
And like the others, I didn't know you were writing. All power to your typing fingers.

Becky said...

Okay, so I kind of feel like my secret is out. Well, actually me writing something has never been a secret. I just don't like to talk about it all that much unless you happen to be my poor husband because he has to listen to me waffle for hours.

I am also hugely superstitous where my premise is concerned. Even poor hubby doesn't know what my book is about. This is what I can tell you: It is a 13+ novel with one paranormal element. It also happens to be set in the UK.

Thanks to everyone for their very supportive comments.

Josette said...

I think that Stephen King is a fantastic writer and read some of his novels. He's really good with thrillers especially with his first novel, Carrie. That book gave me one nightmare when I was reading it halfway. It was either caused by the way he wrote and the plot or maybe I was easily freaked out.

But this book, On Writing, is one that I'd really like to read. I enjoyed reading the list that you wrote out, the things that you learnt from the book. :)

YellowBanana said...

Ahh this is on my wishlist. You've completely convinced me to buy it now :D. I particularly like the last bullet point. Also, awesome, you're writing a novel- happy writing!

Medeia Sharif said...

The pesky internet. I don't want to turn it off when I'm writing, though, because I always need it for quick research...which leads to loafing.