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PR Isfeld

Reading: "On Writing"
Reading: “On Writing”

“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.”

–Stephen King


Stephen King’s On Writing was the first book on writing as a craft that I read at the dawn of the new millennium. I was captivated by the way he weaves together stories from his own life with practical insights into his writing process, blending memoir with teaching, and demonstrating the techniques in his own prose. There are few writers in the world who know as much about engaging large audiences at a visceral level.

The first part of the book describes King’s difficult childhood with his single mother, which led him to storytelling as a way to please the adults and give himself a sense of control in his disordered world. He describes a series of frights and embarrassments from his childhood that continue to haunt his fiction in the form of the dangers of the natural world, the negative transformations of people, and the betrayals of machines. It’s a fascinating glimpse into the psychological soup he draws on when it’s time to create.

King takes a no-nonsense approach to his craft, brushing aside literary pretensions about inspiration and cutting to the chase: the business of getting words on the page, every single day. He emphasizes the importance of perseverance, discipline, practice and experimentation over perfection. According to him, if you’re not willing to write badly, you will never write well. He has no time for those who don’t take the craft seriously:

“I’m not asking you to come reverently or unquestioningly; I’m not asking you to be politically correct or cast aside your sense of humor (please God you have one). This isn’t a popularity contest, it’s not the moral Olympics, and it’s not church. 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.”

For anyone who does want to write well, On Writing brims with techniques and practical tips that can be immediately put to use. From the importance of establishing a routine to the art of crafting compelling characters, King covers a wide range of topics with clarity and insight. Whether you’re grappling with writer’s block or tinkering with an intricate plot, this book offers insights that are as relevant today as they were more than twenty years after they were first published.

King’s love of story, both as a writer and as a consumer of 70 to 80 books a year, shines through on every page of On Writing. His reminder that writing is a profound act of connection with readers rings true .especially in an era when technology can threaten to isolate us from each other. More than twenty years after its original publication, On Writing is still very relevant.