If I were to summarize the message of Stephen King’s On Writing (2000) in a single sentence — and why would I do that, but here goes anyway — it’s a message he repeats over and over: “Write the first draft with the door closed, the second with the door open.”
By that he means write quickly, passionately, focusing on getting the story inside you down on paper. Then, he says, you can start to think about your Ideal Reader, your use of adverbs, and whether you’ve over-described a minor setting.
And because we all have busy lives that force that door open when we’d rather it stay shut, I’ll end my month of quotes from King with this:
“In truth, I’ve found that any day’s routine interruptions and distractions don’t much hurt a work in progress and may actually help it in some ways. It is, after all, the dab of grit that seeps into an oyster’s shell that makes the pearl, not pearl-making seminars with other oysters.” (P. 232)
I’m continuing my month of quotes from one of the perennial favorite craft books, Stephen King’s On Writing (2000).
“Reading is the creative center of a writer’s life.” (P 147)
This month, I’m sharing favorite quotes from Stephen King’s classic, On Writing (2000).
“[T]he reader must always be your main concern; without Constant Reader, you are just a voice quacking in the void.” (P 124)
I just reread Stephen King’s On Writing, which I first read when it came out in 2000. It’s a perennial on writers’ lists of favorite craft books for good reason. It might sound odd for a cozy mystery writer who’s more than a tad squeamish to admire a horror writer and be inspired by him, but I do and I am. For the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing some of my favorite quotes from On Writing.
“You can approach the act of writing with nervousness, excitement, hopefulness, or even despair—the sense that you can never completely put on the page what’s in your mind and heart. You can come to the act with your fists clenched and your eyes narrowed, ready to kick ass and take down names. You can come to it because you want a girl to marry you or because you want to change the world. Come to it any way but lightly. Let me say it again: you must not come lightly to the blank page.” (P. 106)
(Cover image from the 2010 anniversary edition.)
“Reading is the creative center of a writer’s life.”
Stephen King, On Writing
(Illustration: Mixed media, by Leslie Budewitz)