On Writing, A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

Instead of a standard book review, here’s a list:

What I learned from King’s On Writing:

  • A writer can come from any walk of life.  There is no set path that you must take to find success.  In fact, the more varied and difficult the path the better the writing will be.
  • Manuscript editing and revision is best done after you haven’t looked at it for a while, King recommends no less than six weeks.
  • Never give up, sometimes the most hopeless writing task produces the best work.
  • A first draft should be written with the door closed.  During this phase, concentrate on getting the story right.  Then you can get advice from the outside world.
  • Start a story with an interesting scene or situation and keep writing until the characters let you know the story is finished.
  • Don’t let the ‘Decency Police’ dictate what kind of language your characters can and cannot use. Be real.
  • Write everyday, ideally in the same place at the same time.
  • Write because you have a burning desire to create a fantastic story to share with the world, not because it might bring you success and wealth.  Readers can tell.
  • While writing, think of a specific person who you are writing for – your perfect reader.  Try to write in such a way to make that person love the book.  This person may be make-believe.
  • “Formula for success: 2nd Draft = 1st Draft – 10%…”  If it isn’t necessary, cut it!
  • It is important to get facts correct, but it is not necessary to spill all the facts on the page.

As writing advice books go, this is a keeper.  I would recommend it to anyone, especially those thinking about writing a novel and don’t know where or how to start.  King’s overall message is of encouragement, he wants others to find success and joy in writing.

For some well picked excerpts from the book: Click here.


About Jodi

Jodi L. Milner is a writer, mandala enthusiast, and educator. Her epic fantasy novel, Stonebearer’s Betrayal, was published in November 2018 and rereleased in Jan 2020. She has been published in several anthologies. When not writing, she can be found folding children and feeding the laundry, occasionally in that order.
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11 Responses to On Writing, A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

  1. Sage advice indeed. I find myself reading parts of this book over and over.

  2. nrhatch says:


    Thanks Jo.

  3. Lua says:

    This has been at the top of my reading list for so long, but for some reason I never got around to actually reading it! I’m hoping this summer will finally be the time but thank you for sharing the great list you made, now I’m even more curious 🙂

    • tsuchigari says:

      It’s a good read for anyone who wants to write a book but keeps having doubts – hey wait, that’s us! I need to put the Terry Brooks writing on my list also (along with a couple dozen others…)

  4. petekarnas says:

    This is a wonderful book, not only for aspiring writers but for avid readers as well. The insight that King gives to writers opens a window into how I’ve read books (King’s especially, but others as well). Good post!

  5. Pingback: Weekly Review #16 « My Literary Quest

  6. John says:

    I read King for the first time when I was about 15. My clearasill wasn’t quite dry when I picked up MISERY. By the end I felt two things were true: people go nuts over fiction, and that I wanted to make them go nuts over my fiction.

    Thanks for the post. Quite groovy.

  7. cagolden71 says:

    This is one of my favorite books about the writing process. Another good one is Bird By Bird:Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott.

  8. Chazz Byron says:

    I just finished this book recently and it was an amazing read, I think I’ve learnt more from this book than any writing course

  9. Pingback: Online Degrees: 52 Writing Tips & Techniques That Are Incredibly Therapeutic

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