Advertising
Advertising

Advice From Stephen King On How To Become A Great Writer

Advice From Stephen King On How To Become A Great Writer

Do you wish you were a brilliant writer? Stephen King has written over 50 books and has millions of fans. As one of the most popular horror writers alive, he knows how to write an interesting and captivating book, and he has just published a book called “On Writing” that provides valuable insights on how to improve your writing.

Check out 15 pieces of advice from Stephen King’s book on how to be a better writer here.

1. Don’t Worry Too Much About Grammar

“Language does not always have to wear a tie and lace-up shoes,” advises King. If you are telling a story, the most important part is to tell the story well so don’t worry too much about focusing on grammar. When someone is reading a great story, they often forget they are even reading at all.

2. Utilize The Power Of Description

“Description begins in the writer’s imagination, but should finish in the reader’s,” writes King.  Make sure your descriptions are clear and concise, and don’t get too lost in your own writing. Keep the story going and use simple vocabulary so as not to confuse the reader.

Advertising

3. Don’t Be Pretentious

“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,” says King. Speak clearly and try to avoid using jargon.

4. Prepare And Plan For Criticism

“If you write (or paint or dance or sculpt or sing, I suppose), someone will try to make you feel lousy about it, that’s all,” writes King. Continue to write even when you don’t feel like it, and remain optimistic whenever you encounter failure.

5. Don’t Focus On Trying To Please Others

“If you intend to write as truthfully as you can, your days as a member of polite society are numbered anyway,” King writes. King himself has received many angry letters from people who dislike his work. Not every person who reads your book will love it – and that’s fine.

6. Enjoy Your Writing

On writing, King says, “I did it for the pure joy of the thing. And if you can do it for joy, you can do it forever.” Your work shouldn’t get you down; it should inspire and excite you – it should be one of your passions.

Advertising

7. Write Without Distractions

King advises you to write without distractions; “Write with the door closed; rewrite with the door open.” Shut the door and turn off your phone so you can fully connect with your writing.

8. Write About Everything, Including The Bad Stuff

“The most important things are the hardest things to say,” says King. “They are the things you get ashamed of because words diminish your feelings.” If your writing is going to be well-rounded and full, you will eventually have to cover a negative or difficult subject. Don’t fear these subjects – throw yourself right in!

9. Don’t Steal Someone Else’s Voice

King believes that “you can’t aim a book like a cruise missile.” Instead of creating pale imitations of other people’s work, explore all the corners of your own mind and experiences to create something unique and original.

10. Take Your Work Seriously

“You can approach the act of writing with nervousness, excitement, hopefulness, or despair,” says King. “Come to it any way but lightly.” If you do not believe in your work or you treat it lightly, you may need to put the pen down for a while and come back to writing in the future.

Advertising

11. Take Risks

“I’m convinced that fear is at the root of most bad writing,” King says. The best writers have their own styles and regularly break the rules of conventional writing. Don’t fear your mind; embrace it and see what you create!

12. Write Every Day

“Once I start work on a project, I don’t stop, and I don’t slow down unless I absolutely have to,” says King. Writing shouldn’t be a job you hate, and writing every day stops the story going stale in your mind.

13. Finish Your First Draft In Three Months

“The first draft of a book — even a long one — should take no more than three months, the length of a season,” he says. Writing every day will help you to achieve this, and it helps you to stay committed to this big project.

14. Don’t Fear Cutting Your Work

Many writers struggle to cut parts of their writing that they particularly enjoyed, but King advises, “Kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.” It may be tough, but is important to cut out the dull parts to keep the story flowing. Try to remember that your first draft is almost never the same as the final draft.

Advertising

15. Take A Break From Your Work Before You Come Back To It

When you’re finished writing, take a break for a few weeks before you read your writing. King suggests 6 weeks, which means you will have a clear, unbiased head when you finally read your writing.

What did you think of this list? Share it with your friends who love to write and see what they think!

Featured photo credit: NY Post via nypost.com

More by this author

Amy Johnson

Amy is a writer who blogs about relationships and lifestyle advice.

If You Feel Trapped, Do These 9 Things To Take Your Life Back If You Feel Trapped, Do These 9 Things To Take Your Life Back This List of 50 Low-cost Hobbies Will Excite You Daily Routine of Successful People That Will Inspire You to Achieve More 15 Inspirational Weekend Activities to do by Yourself 15 Amazing Design Ideas For Your Small Living Room

Trending in Communication

1 How to Get Motivated and Be Happy Every Day When You Wake Up 2 How to Start Over and Reboot Your Life When It Seems Too Late 3 7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer 4 If You Think You’re in an Unhappy Marriage, Remember These 5 Things 5 Feeling Stuck in Life? How to Never Get Stuck Again

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on March 14, 2019

7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

Recruiters might hold thousands of interviews in their careers and a lot of them are reporting the same thing—that most candidates play it safe with the questions they ask, or have no questions to ask in a job interview at all.

For job applicants, this approach is crazy! This is a job that you’re going to dedicate a lot of hours to and that might have a huge impact on your future career. Don’t throw away the chance to figure out if the position is perfect for you.

Here are 7 killer questions to ask in a job interview that will both impress your counterpart and give you some really useful insights into whether this job will be a dream … or a nightmare.

1. What are some challenges I might come up against this role?

A lesser candidate might ask, “what does a typical day look like in this role?” While this is a perfectly reasonable question to ask in an interview, focusing on potential challenges takes you much further because it indicates that you already are visualizing yourself in the role.

It’s impressive because it shows that you are not afraid of challenges, and you are prepared to strategize a game plan upfront to make sure you succeed if you get the job.

It can also open up a conversation about how you’ve solved problems in the past which can be a reassuring exercise for both you and the hiring manager.

How it helps you:

If you ask the interviewer to describe a typical day, you may get a vibrant picture of all the lovely things you’ll get to do in this job and all the lovely people you’ll get to do them with.

Asking about potential roadblocks means you hear the other side of the story—dysfunctional teams, internal politics, difficult clients, bootstrap budgets and so on. This can help you decide if you’re up for the challenge or whether, for the sake of your sanity, you should respectfully decline the job offer.

2. What are the qualities of really successful people in this role?

Employers don’t want to hire someone who goes through the motions; they want to hire someone who will excel.

Asking this question shows that you care about success, too. How could they not hire you with a dragon-slayer attitude like that?

Advertising

How it helps you:

Interviewers hire people who are great people to work with, but the definition of “great people” differs from person to person.

Does this company hire and promote people with a specific attitude, approach, worth ethic or communication style? Are the most successful people in this role strong extroverts who love to talk and socialize when you are studious and reserved? Does the company reward those who work insane hours when you’re happiest in a more relaxed environment?

If so, then this may not be the right match for you.

Whatever the answer is, you can decide whether you have what it takes for the manager to be happy with your performance in this role. And if the interviewer has no idea what success looks like for this position, this is a sign to proceed with extreme caution.

3. From the research I did on your company, I noticed the culture really supports XYZ. Can you tell me more about that element of the culture and how it impacts this job role?

Of course, you could just ask “what is the culture like here? ” but then you would miss a great opportunity to show that you’ve done your research!

Interviewers give BIG bonus point to those who read up and pay attention, and you’ve just pointed out that (a) you’re diligent in your research (b) you care about the company culture and (c) you’re committed to finding a great cultural fit.

How it helps you:

This question is so useful because it lets you pick an element of the culture that you really care about and that will have the most impact on whether you are happy with the organization.

For example, if training and development is important to you, then you need to know what’s on offer so you don’t end up in a dead-end job with no learning opportunities.

Companies often talk a good talk, and their press releases may be full of shiny CSR initiatives and all the headline-grabbing diversity programs they’re putting in place. This is your opportunity to look under the hood and see if the company lives its values on the ground.

Advertising

A company that says it is committed to doing the right thing by customers should not judge success by the number of up-sells an employee makes, for instance. Look for consistency, so you aren’t in for a culture shock after you start.

4. What is the promotion path for this role, and how would my performance on that path be measured?

To be clear, you are not asking when you will get promoted. Don’t go there—it’s presumptuous, and it indicates that you think you are better than the role you have applied for.

A career-minded candidate, on the other hand, usually has a plan that she’s working towards. This question shows you have a great drive toward growth and advancement and an intention to stick with the company beyond your current state.

How it helps you:

One word: hierarchy.

All organizations have levels of work and authority—executives, upper managers, line managers, the workforce, and so on. Understanding the hierarchical structure gives you power, because you can decide if you can work within it and are capable of climbing through its ranks, or whether it will be endlessly frustrating to you.

In a traditional pyramid hierarchy, for example, the people at the bottom tend to have very little autonomy to make decisions. This gets better as you rise up through the pyramid, but even middle managers have little power to create policy; they are more concerned with enforcing the rules the top leaders make.

If having a high degree of autonomy and accountability is important to you, you may do better in a flat hierarchy where work teams can design their own way of achieving the corporate goals.

5. What’s the most important thing the successful candidate could accomplish in their first 3 months/6 months/year?

Of all the questions to ask in a job interview, this one is impressive because it shows that you identify with and want to be a successful performer, and not just an average one.

Here, you’re drilling down into what the company needs, and needs quite urgently, proving that you’re all about adding value to the organization and not just about what’s in it for you.

How it helps you:

Advertising

Most job descriptions come with 8, 10 or 12 different job responsibilities and a lot of them with be boilerplate or responsibilities that someone in HR thinks are associated with this role. This question gives you a better sense of which responsibilities are the most important—and they may not be what initially attracted you to the role.

If you like the idea of training juniors, for example, but success is judged purely on your sales figures, then is this really the job you thought you were applying for?

This question will also give you an idea of what kind of learning curve you’re expected to have and whether you’ll get any ramp-up time before getting down to business. If you’re the type of person who likes to jump right in and get things done, for instance, you may not be thrilled to hear that you’re going to spend the first three months shadowing a peer.

6. What do you like about working here?

This simple question is all about building rapport with the interviewer. People like to talk about themselves, and the interviewer will be flattered that you’re interested in her opinions.

Hopefully, you’ll find some great connection points that the two of you share. What similar things drive you head into the office each day? How will you fit into the culture?

How it helps you:

You can learn a lot from this question. Someone who genuinely enjoys his job will be able to list several things they like, and their answers will sound passionate and sincere. If not….well, you might consider that a red flag.

Since you potentially can learn a lot about the company culture from this question, it’s a good idea to figure out upfront what’s important to you. Maybe you’re looking for a hands-off boss who values independent thought and creativity? Maybe you work better in environments that move at a rapid, exciting pace?

Whatever’s important to you, listen carefully and see if you can find any common ground.

7. Based on this interview, do you have any questions or concerns about my qualifications for the role?

What a great closing question to ask in a job interview! It shows that you’re not afraid of feedback—in fact, you are inviting it. Not being able to take criticism is a red flag for employers, who need to know that you’ll act on any “coaching moments” with a good heart.

As a bonus, asking this question shows that you are really interested in the position and wish to clear up anything that may be holding the company back from hiring you.

Advertising

How it helps you:

What a devious beast this question is! On the surface, it looks straightforward, but it’s actually giving you four key pieces of information.

First, is the manager capable of giving you feedback when put on the spot like this? Some managers are scared of giving feedback, or don’t think it’s important enough to bother outside of a formal performance appraisal. Do you want to work for a boss like that? How will you improve if no one is telling you what you did wrong?

Second, can the manager give feedback in a constructive way without being too pillowy or too confrontational? It’s unfair to expect the interviewer to have figured out your preferred way of receiving feedback in the space of an interview, but if she come back with a machine-gun fire of shortcomings or one of those corporate feedback “sandwiches” (the doozy slipped between two slices of compliment), then you need to ask yourself, can you work with someone who gives feedback like that?

Third, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about before you leave the interview. This gives you the chance to make a final, tailored sales pitch so you can convince the interviewer that she should not be worried about those things.

Fourth, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about period. If turnover is keeping him up at night, then your frequent job hopping might get a lot of additional scrutiny. If he’s facing some issues with conflict or communication, then he might raise concerns regarding your performance in this area.

Listen carefully: the concerns that are being raised about you might actually be a proxy for problems in the wider organization.

Making Your Interview Work for You

Interviews are a two-way street. While it is important to differentiate yourself from every other candidate, understand that convincing the interviewer you’re the right person for the role goes hand-in-hand with figuring out if the job is the right fit for you.

Would you feel happy in a work environment where the people, priorities, culture and management style were completely at odds with the way you work? Didn’t think so!

More Resources About Job Interviews

Featured photo credit: Amy Hirschi via unsplash.com

Read Next