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.
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.
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.
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.
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