22 lessons from Stephen King on how to be a great writer
“Renowned author Stephen King writes stories that captivate millions of people around the world and earn him an estimated $17 million a year.
In his memoir, On Writing, King shares valuable insights into how to be a better writer. And he doesn’t sugarcoat it. He writes, ‘I can’t lie and say there are no bad writers. Sorry, but there are lots of bad writers.’
Don’t want to be one of them? Here are 22 great pieces of advice from King’s book on how to be an amazing writer:
1. Stop watching television. Instead, read as much as possible.
If you’re just starting out as a writer, your television should be the first thing to go. It’s ‘poisonous to creativity,’ he says. Writers need to look into themselves and turn toward the life of the imagination.
To do so, they should read as much as they can. King takes a book with him everywhere he goes, and even reads during meals. ‘If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot,’ he says. Read widely, and constantly work to refine and redefine your own work as you do so.
2. Prepare for more failure and criticism than you think you can deal with.
King compares writing fiction to crossing the Atlantic Ocean in a bathtub, because in both, ‘there’s plenty of opportunity for self-doubt.’ Not only will you doubt yourself, but other people will doubt you, too. ‘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.
Oftentimes, you have to continue writing even when you don’t feel like it. ‘Stopping a piece of work just because it’s hard, either emotionally or imaginatively, is a bad idea,’ he writes. And when you fail, King suggests that you remain positive. ‘Optimism is a perfectly legitimate response to failure.'”