Reading Stephen King on Writing was as captivating as it was inspiring, as fascinating as it was practical, and for me as a writer downright scary. That knee-jerk reaction of fight or flight had me opting for flight, throwing in the towel and silently screaming ‘What’s the point?’
After several deep breaths and a glass or two of wine I took myself in hand.
Yes Stephen King is one of the best selling writers of all time, ever, but as his memoirs reveal this status wasn’t handed to him on a plate. He worked multiple hard-slog, low-paid jobs and trained to be a teacher; anything to pay the bills and support his family, fitting in his writing in the evening or at lunch times. Sounds tough, I know.
He said he was having fun; that writing was a brief escape from the daily grind of work. I get that. Writing, just like reading a good story, takes you off to another world. I use to do that, snatch an hour here and there, these days I seem to be more productive in bigger chunks of time. Like my week in Andalusia a few months back when I wrote around 20,000 words. The only problem with that is the long dry spells in between; my novel writing becomes sporadic leaving my characters in limbo until I bring them to life again.
Stephen King says that a first draft should be written in 3-4 months; is it any wonder I was ready to abandon ship when I’m already 8 months in with a third of the novel still to be written! You can see now why my initial reaction was to flee this long uphill struggle with my conscience; “I should be writing – I don’t have time” etc.
Perhaps you think it would be easy for me to bury my notebooks in a drawer, forget about writing fiction; after all I have enough going on with two jobs, life is too short to put another pressure on myself. Trouble is characters and scenarios keep popping into my head and I can’t ignore them.
So I’m staying to fight; I’m writing for me and to give my characters a shot at life outside my head.
Of course the dream is to be on the top sellers’ shelf, but the reality is that its hard work and a big chunk of luck that gets you there. I stuck with Stephen King on Writing, soaking up the advice of the master of the craft. Now I am applying it to my writing skills in the hope that I can give you a novel you’ll talk about to all and sundry!
Here are just a few snippets from Stephen King on Writing that I thought worth sharing...
“I don’t believe writers can be made, either by circumstance or self-will... talent can be strengthened and sharpened”
“Good story ideas come from nowhere. Your job isn’t to find these ideas but to recognise them when they show up”
“When you write a story, you’re telling yourself the story. When you rewrite, your main job is taking out all the things that are not the story”
Whether you’re a writer or a reader, this is definitely a book to put on your ‘to read’ list.