Posted by: Jodi | May 27, 2010

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.



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

  2. Excellent!

    Thanks Jo.

  3. 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 🙂

    • 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. 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!

    • I never thought of it like that, but of course you’re right. It helps both readers and writers understand the process of creating a novel.

  5. […] On Writing, A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King – A list of lessons I learned from the book […]

  6. 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. 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. 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. […] It allows you control. When you use writing as a form of therapy you are the one who is in control of what you talk about and how far it goes. […]


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