ON WRITING by Stephen King | Review

“Long live the King” hailed Entertainment Weekly upon publication of Stephen King’s On Writing. Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer’s craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have. King’s advice is grounded in his vivid memories from childhood through his emergence as a writer, from his struggling early career to his widely reported, near-fatal accident in 1999–and how the inextricable link between writing and living spurred his recovery. Brilliantly structured, friendly and inspiring, On Writing will empower and entertain everyone who reads it–fans, writers, and anyone who loves a great story well told. {Goodreads}

I’ve been around Stephen King’s books and stories for most of my life. Not only is my mother a huge fan of his writing, but it’s sort of difficult to grow up as a self-proclaimed bookworm and not be around his books. Stephen King is a prolific writer with the added popularity of many of his books being made into movies and television shows. Although I’ve only read a few of his books (The Gunslinger, which I disliked, and The Shining, which I enjoyed), I have nevertheless always admired King for his remarkable creativity and ability to write so much. When I learned that he had written a memoir all about his life as a writer and how he goes about the writing process I knew that I would have to read it. So, in the airport waiting to fly back to Oxford, I began.

On Writing is a perfect blend of personal memoir and writing advice. In a book like this I feel as though starting with the more personal parts is necessary in order to give the reader context and establish credibility with the audience. Who is this man, and what makes him qualified to dish out advice? (Even though I’m pretty sure most of us could answer those two questions without a moment’s hesitation.) It’s also reassuring to learn that King did not immediately become a bestselling author the first time he put a pen to paper; rather, he worked tirelessly to improve his writing over time through incessant practice and persistently putting his work out there for others to see. This personal section also helped put a lot of King’s work in perspective and would likely be even more interesting for someone more familiar with several of his novels.

There are countless points in this book that I found myself nodding my head along with, endlessly surprised by the way King is somehow able to put into words what the process of writing actually feels like. He manages to articulate precisely how it feels when you suddenly have a spark of inspiration as well as the uncertainty of not knowing what direction your writing should take next. Most importantly, he deftly describes how important and necessary writing feels to those who do it.

“Writing is not life, but I think that sometimes it can be a way back to life.”

However, I think it should be said that, like any advice, King’s tips and tricks for writing should be taken with a grain of salt. Not everyone has the luxury of being able to carve out enough time in the day to consistently write thousands of words. The tone of the book can also definitely come off a bit cocky and flippant– although I suppose if you’ve been as successful as Stephen King, you can sort of get away with this. To King’s credit, he does make it clear that this advice is just that: advice, not writing rules set in stone. This book is nothing if not authentic, genuine, and brutally honest.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading On Writing and would definitely return to it again in the future for some inspiration and important reminders. While I don’t necessarily agree with all of King’s advice, I do appreciate his honesty and willingness to be so open with readers. It makes me want to read more of his fiction now!

What are your thoughts on On Writing? Do you have a favorite book by Stephen King? What’s your best piece of writing advice? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

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12 thoughts on “ON WRITING by Stephen King | Review

  1. I actually really enjoyed reading The Gunslinger because I thought it was so well done and the story was intriguing. But it was so, so dark that I couldn’t bring myself to read any more of the series. It was just too dark. I’ve never read The Shining though, maybe I’ll try that sometime! The only other King book I read was a Richard Bachman story, it was weird.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve wanted to read this one for quite some time now, but I just haven’t for some reason. Like you, I’m not overly familiar with King’s work personally, but, of course, it’s STEPHEN KING so even if I’m not familiar, I’m familiar lol. Even if he does come across a little cocky in this one, I’m glad to see that he doesn’t think his techniques/advice are law when it comes to writing (wish I could say the same about some of my professors).

    Great review!!
    – Lefty @ The Left-Handed Book Lover

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I picked up On Writing from the library a few months ago but didn’t have time to finish it then! I have been dying to pick it back up for so long I just need to get my hands on it again!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve found On Writing to be one of the best writing books there is. He’s so prolific it’s intimidating, and says that projects should be done within three months or you’ll get bored. He’s sort of the Tony Stark of writing.

    Liked by 1 person

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