On Writing

Five tips from Stephen King on Writing

Having sold 350 million copies of his books, Stephen King is what you would call a successful writer. He created a manual on the craft entitled, “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft” where he highlights his favorite tips for writing. Below are five of Mr. King’s tips for writers:

  1. Don’t worry too much about grammar. “Language does not always have to wear a tie and lace-up shoes. The object of fiction isn’t grammatical correctness but to make the reader welcome and then tell a story… to make him/her forget, whenever possible, that he/she is reading a story at all”.
  2. Keep reading.  “You have to read widely, constantly refining (and redefining) your own work as you do so. If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write.”
  3. Tune out the TV.  “Most exercise facilities are now equipped with TVs, but TV—while working out or anywhere else—really is about the last thing an aspiring writer needs. If you feel you must have the news analyst blowhard on CNN while you exercise, or the stock market blowhards on MSNBC, or the sports blowhards on ESPN, it’s time for you to question how serious you really are about becoming a writer. You must be prepared to do some serious turning inward toward the life of the imagination, and that means, I’m afraid, that Geraldo, Keigh Obermann, and Jay Leno must go. Reading takes time, and the glass teat takes too much of it.”’
  4. Finish within three months. “The first draft of a book—even a long one—should take no more than three months, the length of a season.”
  5. Do it one word at a time.  “A radio talk-show host asked me how I wrote. My reply—’One word at a time’—seemingly left him without a reply. I think he was trying to decide whether or not I was joking. I wasn’t. In the end, it’s always that simple. Whether it’s a vignette of a single page or an epic trilogy like ‘The Lord Of The Rings,’ the work is always accomplished one word at a time.”

Read more of Stephen King’s writing tips here.