My favorite book of instructions is Stephen King’s book On Writing, A Memoir of the Craft.
Please understand that I have read Thomas Moore’s Care of the Soul many times, and I have deep respect for it, but in this post I praise Mr. King’s work.
On page 144 he states, “What follows is everything I know about how to write good fiction. I’ll be as brief as possible, because your time is valuable, and so is mine, and we both understand that the hours we spend talking about writing is time we don’t spend actually doing it.”
If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.—Stephen King
He tells his readers top-notch writing is all about hard work. Or as he says, “There is a muse, but he’s not going to come fluttering down into your writing room and scatter creative fairy-dust all over your typewriter or computer station.” He also admits he broke with tradition by connecting with a male muse.
I have pouted—and more than one time—because my Muse did not deliver fairy-dust to my work station, nor to my camera.
Mr. King tells it like it is. In the book he also confesses his personal foibles, and I appreciate that. He also expects readers to take his advice to heart. He says if symbolism fits the story you are telling, use it. He adds, “You’re a monkey if you don’t.”
We can learn a lot from this book. I will mention a few things he taught me. We need to know why we are spouting off with advice to people on the subject we have chosen. We also need to be deeply engrossed in the subject at hand, not just distributing fortune cookie advice. We must be willing to hold nothing back.
We must have the courage to tell people how to recognize it if they have chosen the wrong field for themselves. For example, he points out that people who write badly will never write very well. He reveals his own fears too, and I think that is essential.
I applaud everyone who heeds his advice, and who takes the risks involved in revealing themselves and their methods. If you are brilliant at something I believe you should tell people how you do it. You’re a monkey if you don’t.