On Stephen King's "On Writing"

Stephen King’s On Writing is a great resource for anyone who wants to become a better writer. Although King’s memoir mainly targets fiction writers, I believe that many of his opinions on writing can be used by all writers. Whether you are writing a blog, co-op report, literature review, cover letter, etc., King’s tips about writing will be useful to you.

Here are four of King’s tips about writing that will help you and your writing process.

Tip #1) “Writing is a lonely job. Having someone who believes in you makes a lot of difference. They don’t have to make speeches. Just believing is usually enough” (King 74).

Usually, the act of writing is a solitary act. However, the entire writing process does not have to be. I would suggest finding a support system for your writing. This support can be a tutor, friend, family member, or colleague who you can talk about your writing with. Discussing your writing shows that you’re serious about becoming a better writer. Writing can be difficult, and therefore, by developing a support system, you can help validate your writing by involving others in the process.

Tip #2) “You can approach the act of writing with nervousness, excitement, hopefulness, or even despair—the sense that you can never completely put on the page what’s in your mind and heart. […] Come to it any way but lightly. Let me say it again: you must not come lightly to the blank page” (King 106).

King suggests that writing is serious business—I agree. Writing demands your full attention. Although, I understand that if you are working on a laptop, there are many distractions. You want to check your e-mail, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter or [insert website here]—me too. Since I’ve started writing this blog post, I have wanted to check my e-mail fifty-five times. My advice to you is to get rid of the distractions. Put the phone away, turn off the Wi-Fi and focus on the task at hand. Writing is hard enough without distractions. Take your writing seriously to avoid treating it “lightly”.       

Tip #3) “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” (King 145).

First, depending on your faculty or program, you may have a couple writing assignments to do in your entire university career, or you might have a never-ending list writing assignments to complete. Regardless of the amount, students who want to become better writers need to write often.

Keep a journal. Start a blog. Update your Facebook feed on a regular basis (Facebook friends love that...). All of these types of writing will give you practice for when it comes to that big writing assignment that is due.  

Second, you must be prepared to do some reading. References are very important to help validate the claims you make in your writing. The more time you take to find effective references, the better your assignment will be. Remember, good reading practices are as important as your writing practices. Take time each day to do a little bit of both. Even if you can only dedicate ten minutes to reading and writing each day, it’s a starting point. Instead of watching that extra episode on Netflix, read an article or write a journal entry.

Putting time aside for reading and writing each day will be a difficult task to start. However, once you make the time for it, you will be impressed how much better your reading and writing skills become.

Tip #4) “Whether it’s a vignette of a single page or an epic trilogy like The Lord of the Rings, the work is always accomplished one word at a time” (King 156).

Remember,

writing

one

word

at

a

time

is

an

easy

way

to

construct

a

sentence.

I hope that King’s writing tips have been helpful. Happy writing.

--Brett

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