Saturday, February 19, 2011

On writing: Lessons from the king

     I'm trying to be a writer, but it's harder than I thought it would be.

     As I started putting my ideas to paper, (I currently have two major ideas for novels), I soon realized that I needed help honing my craft. Whatever that "craft" is. I started shopping for helpful writing advice on the internet and in books. The first writing book I picked up was On Writing by Stephen King, which has been hailed by many a successful author as the go-to guide to writing. The big kahuna.

    I've decided to share what I've learned so far from the King in the form of memorable quotes from the memoir. But believe me, there are far more nuggets in the rest of the book than I'm including here. This thing is chock-full of noteworthy guidance!

from On Writing:

Let's get one thing clear right now, shall we? There is no Idea Dump, no Story Central, no Island of the Buried Bestsellers; good story ideas seem to come quite literally from nowhere, sailing at you right out of the empty sky: two previously unrelated ideas come together and make something new under the sun. You job isn't to find these ideas but to recognize them when they show up.
If you write (or paint or dance of sculpt or sing, I suppose), someone will try to make you feel lousy about it, that's all. I'm not editorializing, just trying to give you the facts as I see them.
The idea that creative endeavor and mind-altering substances are entwined is one of the great pop-intellectual myths of our time.
It starts with this: put your desk in the corner, and every time you sit down there 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.
With the passive voice, the writer usually expresses fear of not being taken seriously... With adverbs, the writer usually tells us he or she is afraid because he/she isn't expressing himself/herself clearly, that he or she is not getting the point or the picture across.
You cannot hope to sweep someone else away by the force of your writing until it has been done to you.
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.
 Description begins with the writer's imagination, bu should finish in the reader's. When it comes to actually pulling this off, the writer is much more fortunate than the filmmaker, who is almost always doomed to show too much... including, in nine cases out of ten, the zipper running up the monster's back.
Some people don't want to hear the truth, of course, but that's not your problem. What would be is wanting to be a writer without wanting to shoot straight.

     This is what I've learned so far from the King. But that's not really the hard part, it is? Now I've got to figure out how to actually use this stuff in my writing, without coming off as a watered-down wannabe. Yikes.



  1. Hi :)

    Found your blog through Twitter - nice to meet a fellow writer. I'm a new follower!

    On Writing is fantastic. How Not To Write A Novel by Sandra Newman and Howard Mittelmark is pretty good too. Very tongue in cheek and entertaining but full of good advice.

    Good luck on starting your journey x

  2. Hi yourself!

    Thanks for visiting. You are officially my first follower! (happy dance.)

    Thanks for the recommendation, I've never heard of that particular book before!

    Have a great day :)

  3. This is great. I'm not an aspiring novelits but I've entered quite a few contests and I've won plus, everyone keeps telling me to keep writing. The problem is, I don't "feel like it": I don't feel any kind of necessity unless I'm denouncing an unfair situtation and/or keeping my book bloggers posted on my books.

    Maybe, when I'm done with my English degree (and we will get a job, don't be so pessimistic!!) I'll find inspiration. Until now, I love reading you.