On Writing by Stephen King

“So okay― there you are in your room with the shade down and the door shut and the plug pulled out of the base of the telephone. You’ve blown up your TV and committed yourself to a thousand words a day, come hell or high water. Now comes the big question: What are you going to write about? And the equally big answer: Anything you damn well want.”

Books on writing often start with the strange assumption that the reader is already wonderfully disciplined, and merely needs guidance in regards to adjectives and paragraph structure. King is more helpful. He explains the nuts and bolts of his trade rather than the just the tweaks needed to finished products. He takes the time to dispel myths about the magic of ‘inspiration’ as the cause of good stories, and encourages you to approach the craft in the way of a carpenter: it can be difficult, yes, but once you’ve learned the tools of the trade the most useful thing you can do is sit at your desk every morning.

King’s books do not crave being taken seriously, they merely hope that they are. They embrace some ridiculous premises, and are happy to sit on genre shelves while their creator bathes in money, but if you approach them with trust they are often refreshingly honest portraits of very strange situations. This makes him the perfect person to explain the actual process of fiction writing, as he avoids romantic ruminations which impede serious discussion of what should be, above all else, hard work.

King is above all practical, but also infectiously enthusiastic. His love for the craft shines through, and his focus on the joy of his job makes you able to take him more seriously when he talk about the difficulties.

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