Stephen King’s “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft” is a unique and insightful book that transcends the typical boundaries of genre. Part memoir, part writing guide, it offers readers a fascinating glimpse into the life and mind of one of the most prolific and successful authors of our time.
The book is divided into three sections. The first, “C.V.,” provides a biographical account of King’s life, detailing his early experiences as a writer and the challenges he faced on his journey to success. This section humanizes the author, making him relatable to aspiring writers who may be grappling with their own doubts and obstacles.
The second section, “On Writing,” is where King imparts his wisdom and advice about the craft of writing. He discusses everything from grammar and style to the importance of reading and the writer’s toolbox. King’s writing tips are practical and down-to-earth, making them accessible to writers of all levels. Never, ever use adverbs — they are for the weak! Plots are not good for writing either; he recommends characters and situations versus plot driving the story. He advocates for simplicity and clarity in writing, emphasizing the importance of storytelling over literary pretension.
One of the most memorable aspects of “On Writing” is King’s candid account of his near-fatal accident in 1999. His description of how he continued to write and recover from his injuries is both inspirational and a testament to his dedication to the craft. This personal anecdote adds depth and authenticity to the book.
The final section, “On Living: A Postscript,” reflects on King’s life after the accident and offers a glimpse into his writing routine. He continues to emphasize the importance of persistence and discipline in a writer’s life.
Overall, “On Writing” is a valuable resource for aspiring writers and an engaging read for fans of Stephen King. I have no urge to become an author (I don’t think…) but it was still very interesting in the way that it discusses his process. For example, I have always told students to have a notebook with them so that they can write ideas down as they come to them. King says this is silly – the only good ideas are the ones that keep coming back, so there is no use for a notebook. It demystifies the writing process while celebrating the art of storytelling. King’s conversational style and no-nonsense advice make this book an enduring classic in the realm of writing guides, and it serves as a testament to the idea that even the most successful authors had to start somewhere and face their own share of challenges.