Stephen King, for me, is the God of writing. He knows how to create believable characters that will make you feel all kinds of emotions (a wide, wide range of emotions at that), he creates genre-defining works and his stories are simply incomparable to any other on the planet (though I do know a couple of them which have been inspired by others’ stories, though he writes everything better – so he just makes them all awesome!)
When it comes to writing, I blindly follow his advice because his advice is always solid advice. He never bullshits, he never lies or tries to paint a picture other than how it is in reality; it is always straight up and eye-opening. So here is a list of 10 Best Advice On Writing By Stephen King that I always adhere to when it comes to writing my own stories and books.
10 Best Advice On Writing By Stephen King
1. “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.”
It is pretty straight-forwards advice (I told you, SK kids you not), still most writers don’t get it – the secret is to read and writer. Simple as that.
2. “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.”
This is the first advice I followed when I began writing. I simply read so much that after 500 books I already knew the deepest and the darkest secrets of writings that most writers would kill for. So read – as much as you possibly can. Read even more than you write so that when you write, you can write better.
3. “There should be no telephone in your writing room, certainly no TV or videogames for you to fool around with. If there’s a window, draw the curtains or pull down the shades unless it looks out at a blank wall.”
This is more on the lines of discipline training your brain into writing with a focused mind. While learning to develop the habit of writing, this is the one advice you NEED to follow.
4. “I think that every novelist has a single ideal reader; that at various points during the composition of a story, the writer is thinking, ‘I wonder what he/she will think when he/she reads this part?’”
I’m sure any writer who has written more than 1L words would definitely know what this this all about. Ideal reader is what keeps a writer going and it is the best motivator, at least for me, when it comes to writing my own stories.
5. “One of the really bad things you can do to your writing is to dress up the vocabulary, looking for long words because you’re maybe a little bit ashamed of your short ones. This is like dressing up a household pet in evening clothes. The pet is embarrassed and the person who committed this act of premeditated cuteness should be even more embarrassed.”
Keep it simple, folks. Good writing is not what words you use, it is HOW you use your words.
6. “If you intend to write as truthfully as you can, your days as a member of polite society are numbered.”
This is one of my favourites! Welcomes to the ugly part of writing 🙂
7. “I like to get ten pages a day, which amounts to 2,000 words. That’s 180,000 words over a three-month span, a goodish length for a book.”
That is how a writing habit looks like and you can see the results it produces. I try to use it as my inspiration and write at least a couple hundred words everyday (at least.) Start with 100-200 words and gradually increase as you feel comfortable settling into the habit of writing.
8. “I think the best stories always end up being about the people rather than the event, which is to say character-driven.”
The stories are always about the characters, so make sure you get your characterisation on point and your story will be good.
Related reading: 7 Types Of Characters In Fiction
9. “You cannot hope to sweep someone else away by the force of your writing until it has been done to you.”
This is why you need to read so that you can first feel the magic that writing it before you can even think of creating it yourself.
10. “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? Writing is magic, as much the water of life as any other creative art. The water is free. So drink.”
This one is deep and to put it simply don’t do it for anything but the love of writing. If you can’t live peacefully without writing, then you write. Other things are like pit-stops, not the destination or the reason for the journey in the first place. If it is not why you write, then you better not write.
So these are some savage advice from the king of Fiction himself. If you want to explore more of his AWESOME books or want to know more about him (if you still don’t know him yet) then check out the articles below, they are all pretty great:
- List Of Books By Stephen King – Wikipedia
- Stephen King Bibliography – Wikipedia
- The 10 Best Stephen King Books – Rolling Stone’s Readers’ Poll
- The 20 best Stephen King books, ranked by Goodreads reviewers – Insider Reviews
- The 17 Best Stephen King Books Ever Written, Ranked – GoodHouse Keeping
- 13 Best Stephen King Books to Read in 2021, Ranked – The Manual
- The 13 Best Stephen King Books to Horrify You—Or Warm Your Heart – Vanity Fair