Some time ago, I began posting the occasional random thoughts on writing. Not my own writing per say (I like to think I’m nowhere near boorish enough to ever consider such a thing), but the craft of writing in general. Why? Because most of us that write/read voraciously love to nerd out over such machinations, but often times find it difficult to find someone to do that w/.

In response to that – and to some offline conversations I’ve been having of late – I thought this might be a good time to dig into that virtual well of authorial philosophizing known as Stephen King (or as many have been known to refer to him…Uncle Steve).

Regardless of what you think of his work (if you know him solely as horror, you're missing out), there is a certain elegance to his prose, and a quality to his story construct that is undeniable. Couple that with the undeniable facts that he has been a bastion of success for DECADES and a complete trailblazer in a genre that until he came along was basically Lovecraft and a few scattered classics that later became B-level monster movies, and you have some that at the very least deserves our respect and appreciation.

To that end, and to bring things full-circle, I offer the 21 best quotes he has ever made about writing….given w/ a full money-back-guarantee that AT LEAST one of them will resonate w/ the writer in all of us…

(My personal favorites are in bold)

  1. Writing is a lonely job. Having someone who believes in you makes a lot of difference.
  2. 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.
  3. Books are a uniquely portable magic.
  4. Writing is seduction.
  5. Description begins in the writer’s imagination, but should finish in the reader’s.
  6. If you’re just starting out as a writer, you could do worse than strip your television’s electric plug-wire, wrap a spike around it, and then stick it back into the wall. See what blows, and how far. Just an idea.
  7. The most important things to remember about back story are that (a) everyone has a history and (b) most of it isn’t very interesting.
  8. By the time I was fourteen the nail in my wall would no longer support the weight of the rejection slips impaled upon it. I replaced the nail with a spike and went on writing.
  9. The road to hell is paved with adverbs.
  10. 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.
  11. When you write a book, you spend day after day scanning and identifying the trees. When you’re done, you have to step back and look at the forest.
  12. Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.
  13. The scariest moment is always just before you start. After that, things can only get better.
  14. Can I be blunt on this subject? If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.
  15. The more you read, the less apt you are to make a fool of yourself with your pen or word processor.
  16. Running a close second [as a writing lesson] was the realization that stopping a piece of work just because it’s hard, either emotionally or imaginatively, is a bad idea. Sometimes you have to go on when you don’t feel like it, and sometimes you’re doing good work when it feels like all you’re managing is to shovel shit from a sitting position.
  17. But it’s writing, damn it, not washing the car or putting on eyeliner. If you can take it seriously, we can do business. If you can’t or won’t, it’s time for you to close the book and do something else. Wash the car, maybe.
  18. 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. Your job isn’t to find these ideas but to recognize them when they show up.
  19. Kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.
  20. Let me say it again: You must not come lightly to the blank page.
  21. Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open.
  22. We need to experience the mediocre and the outright rotten; such experience helps us to recognize those things when they creep into our own work, and to steer clear of them.
  23. We’ve all heard someone say, ‘Man, it was so great (or so horrible/strange/funny)…I just can’t describe it.’ If you want to be a successful writer, you must be able to describe it, and in a way that will cause your reader to prickle with recognition.
  24. This isn’t the Ouija board or the spirit world we’re talking about here, but just another job like laying pipe or driving long-haul trucks.
  25. You cannot hope to sweep someone else away by the force of your writing until it has been done to you.
  26. Optimism is a perfectly legitimate response to failure.
  27. I’ve written because it fulfilled me…I did it for the buzz. I did it for the joy of the thing. And if you can do it for the joy, you can do it forever.

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Thanks so much, and happy reading!