Why have I never read On Writing by Stephen King before now?
It’s phenomenal. I picked it up at my local used bookstore, Ukazoo, a few months ago. It’s the perfect read as NaNoWriMo 2017 approaches. I’ve been alternately reading it and listening to the audiobook all week.
It’s good timing – picking up this book at this moment.
This week has been pretty excellent. It’s been a reprieve from the chaos and the angst that have been plaguing me. I did not obsessively look for jobs, evaluate career options, or reflect on my professional purpose.
It was a relief. To have a day that was not dominated by obsessive seeking.
I’m not sure what’s been different. Tee and I had a long talk on Saturday about my job hunting, which gave me some clarity. The exact visualization of “what I want” keeps changing. But just for today – it feels really good to set job hunting aside, to accept what I’m currently doing, and to start getting excited again about writing. Which is what I wanted to do most in the world when I was ten years old.
Here are my takeaways (some paraphrased) from On Writing:
-Write for you. Then REWRITE for others, taking out everything that’s not the story. (“Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open.”)
-“Good description is a learned skill, one of the prime reasons why you cannot succeed unless you read a lot and write a lot. It’s not just a question of how-to, you see; it’s also a question of how much to. Reading will help you answer how much, and only reams of writing will help you with the how. You can learn only by doing.”
-“Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well. It’s about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy.”
“Description is what makes the reader a sensory participant in the story. Good description is a learned skill,one of the prime reasons you cannot succeed unless you read a lot and write a lot. It’s not just a question of how-to, you see; it’s a question of how much to. Reading will help you answer how much, and only reams of writing will help you with the how. You can learn only by doing.”
-“If you expect to succeed as a writer, rudeness should be the second-to-least of your concerns. The least of all should be polite society and what it expects. If you intend to write as truthfully as you can, your days as a member of polite society are numbered, anyway.”
-“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.”
-“Your job isn’t to find these ideas but to recognize them when they show up.”
This was way too many quotes. I restrained myself or there would be way more.