Stephen King on Writing: 8 Lessons From the Acclaimed Author
“Words create sentences; sentences create paragraphs; sometimes paragraphs quicken and begin to breathe.”
These are lines from Stephen King’s On Writing, a memoir that touchingly talks about his writing endeavors. It is hard to find anyone who has not read Stephen King’s novels. He is known as one of the greatest living writers of our time. With over 60 published novels and over 200 short stories, he is revered for his art of writing supernatural fiction.
Many of Stephen King’s novels and stories have been made into TV shows and adapted for the big screen. King clearly knows his craft, and he is a writer who has successfully published one thriller after another. In this blog, we list the top writing tips from Stephen King.
Stephen King on Writing: 8 Top Tips
On different occasions, King has shared valuable insights into what makes a good writer. Here are a few of our favorites.
1. Read, read, read
A quote from On Writing by Stephen King goes like this, “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.”
According to King, if you are serious about becoming a writer, you need to read a lot. Learn about different authors and their writing styles to see what works for you and what doesn’t. Whatever you read, remember the things you can carry into your work. The more you read, the more you will understand the author’s craft and methods to achieve it. Reading can also help you differentiate exceptional writing from mediocre writing.
2. Avoid using too many adverbs
Although you don’t need to avoid adverbs altogether, it is better to learn when to use them. New writers often use too many adverbs to make their writing look more impressive. But, adverbs can take the reader away from the true meaning the piece wants to convey, and can ruin the quality of your work. In King’s own words, “The road to hell is paved with adverbs.”
3. Try to write every day
Be it for web content writing or fiction writing, if you want to be a good writer, you need to build a writing habit. Stephen King writes daily in the morning, takes a nap and drinks tea in the afternoon, and makes time for his family too. However, you do not need to follow the same routine. The important thing is that you take the time to write every day. Aim to write down a certain number of words and build on that slowly.
4. Adopt simplicity
King says, “Kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.” The phrase “kill your darlings” means getting rid of unnecessary elements in your writing, even though you may have worked hard on them.
A crucial Stephen King writing lesson is to chop off flowery language, as it may come across as superfluous and awkward. Write crisp content in a natural style. Break down harder, complex concepts or information into shorter, consumable chunks. Instead of using complicated words, use simple words effectively.
5. Write for yourself first
First, write for yourself and then for your audience. This is your story, and you have all the freedom to explore it in a way you see fit. Once you offer it to others, it will no longer be just yours. They will form opinions, make suggestions, and influence the story’s direction. So you should write the first draft according to your vision. The second draft is when you should consider the reader’s side.
6. Create a good writing environment
Set up a space where you will feel inspired to write. King suggests creating your own writing shelter for enhanced productivity. A place where you can always write without distractions, such as phones, TV, video games, and the like. It is advisable to choose a spot that is peaceful and quiet, as it will enable you to think freely and effectively.
7. Failure is motivation
Almost no one wins the jackpot on the first try. And King’s story was the same. Initially, letters of rejection kept getting accumulated for every story he presented. He says that everyone goes through failure and is given a choice: give up or move on. People rarely go for the second one. Failure is a powerful fear that we struggle to overcome. But the more experience you accumulate, the better the chances of improvement. Keep it up, and soon, you’ll be able to overcome your shortcomings. This is one of the biggest writing tips from Stephen King.
8. Be yourself
Who you are is what makes you unique. Be bold enough to express yourself in your writing. It will have more resonance; it is natural, and in our opinion, it can also be therapeutic. After all, you want your audience to appreciate you for who you truly are. Keep your content genuine and valuable. A good place to start is reading genres that you truly resonate with. They may help you find your true voice.
Writing is a personal journey. Of course, along the way, there are tutorials, writing lessons, and guides to help you, but you have to develop your own style and voice. When writing, it is crucial to find your own style, use an active voice, and write for yourself first. Also, do not let your writing be overshadowed by flowery or extremely pompous language.
What King’s writing lessons give you are ideas on where to start based on how his journey has been. Finally, Stephen King’s On Writing is an excellent read for any aspiring writer, no matter what style they pursue. If you haven’t read it yet, we suggest you read it. But until you do, we hope this blog gives you some inspiration.
There are ideas everywhere. You can seek inspiration from your immediate surroundings, people you interact with, and by reading books, such as Stephen King’s On Writing. Another well-known technique to hunt for content ideas is the internet.
The following are three of King’s best quotes on writing:
– “When you write a book, you spend day after day scanning and identifying the trees. When you’re done, you have to step back and look at the forest.”
– “The scariest moment is always just before you start. After that, things can only get better.”
– “I think the best stories always end up being about the people rather than the event, which is to say character-driven.”
You must read a lot. According to King, if you don’t have the time to read, it is likely that you won’t be able to cultivate the craft of writing.