Review: “On Writing” by Stephen King

KingOn Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King. Scribner Books. 288 pages. 

To be totally honest, this is the third time that I have read this book. But there’s a very good reason why I’ve chosen to use this as one of the textbooks in my Narrative Writing class, even though some of the students and faculty in our Christian university might raise an eyebrow when they hear the name “Stephen King.”

But I do believe that Mr. King has a lot to share about the craft of writing. His is very much a no-nonsense approach to writing, which dovetails very nicely with my attitudes about the field. He’s written 30 books, all of them best-sellers, and whether you’ve read any of his books or not, you can’t argue with his popularity.

But it’s not just a matter of selling books. Steven King shares a philosophy about writing that helps would-be writers understand that it’s not just about selling another book. Here are a few tidbits from his book:

“Put your desk in the corner, and every time you sit down to write, remind yourself why it isn’t in the middle of the room. Life isn’t a support-system for art. It’s the other way around.”

“I’m convinced that fear is at the root of most bad writing.”

“Writing is refined thinking.”

“Every book you pick up has its own lesson or lessons, and quite often the bad books have more to teach than the good ones.”

“Reading is the creative center of a writer’s life.”

And finally:

“I used to tell interviewers that I wrote every day except for Christmas, the Fourth of July, and my birthday. That was a lie….The truth is that when I’m writing, I write every day.”

The book is less about putting sentences, paragraphs and pages together (although he does touch on that) and more about how to make a life as a writer and survive. I sincerely consider it indispensable for any writer or would-be writer, and I’ll continue to use it with my writing classes until I find something better, which I don’t suspect will be anytime soon.

I give this one a hearty five stars out of five.

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