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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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Amy Johnson

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

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Last Updated on May 21, 2019

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

Example 1

You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

Example 2

You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

Example 3

You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

Example 4

You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

  • Understand your own communication style
  • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
  • Communicate with precision and care
  • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

1. Understand Your Communication Style

To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

2. Learn Others Communication Styles

Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

“How do you prefer to receive information?”

This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

3. Exercise Precision and Care

A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

“Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

The Bottom Line

When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

Reference

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