I enjoyed the book, especially toward the end when Stephen King went into details about being hit by a van and the long road to his recovery. That made the book, for me, even more relatable and real. That's also when I felt the most hope.
The book is by Stephen King, so obviously, conservative readers, there's going to be adult language, a few sexual situations, and even a bit of violence. (You've been given a heads up.)
CV 22 and 23-- when he discusses meeting his wife-- that's great stuff.
In the On Writing- Section 15, there's a view of what a good query looked like in 1999. (Page 245 in the paperback 10th Anniversary edition.) I wonder what today's literary agents would make of it? Would it make it past our own Operation Awesome PASS OR PAGES? (Honestly? Not if I'm the one reading it. That one breaks nearly every query rule I know. What a difference 15 years makes!)
A story about his son, Owen, illustrates the difference between determination and passionate desire. (A determined person will do all the required work with diligence. A person overflowing with passionate desire will go above and beyond joyfully, perhaps even to the detriment of other bits of life.)
I found On Writing to be a fascinating mix of memoir and writing advice. Getting a peek into how a famous author became what he is today was exciting for me, even though I've only read one Stephen King book (too scary!). I love how he gives so much credit to his family and his wife for supporting him.
I appreciated that he gives writers permissions to just write for a while and see what sticks, plot-wise. I think the way he put it is coming up with a situation and just exploring what characters in that situation would do. Which is all well and good when you can write a 600-page book and no one will blink an eye, right? But even for a new writer who is very aware of that 100K word guideline, it can be a great way to flesh out possible plots. It just means doing a lot of cutting later, and that's okay! I'm actually going to try out this method with my current WIP idea that's floating around in my head waiting for a plot.
Overall, I highly recommend this book for writers. It's really cool to see that even Stephen King came from humble writing beginnings, and for me, was a real confidence-booster. And we all need that from time to time, right?
This was the first writing craft book I ever read, and I highly recommend it to anyone who is starting out. Heck, I recommend it to any who's never read it because it's accessible and inspiring and interesting.
One thing that struck me as off, though, was the advice to try writing four hours (FOUR?) a day only after shutting yourself away from the world. Well, that's nice, Stephen, but some of us have family and jobs and commutes. So I would offer in its place this advice: Figure out what works for you and then do that.
But overall, it's great. Don't stop there, though. I recommend everything Donald Maass has ever written. And if you want some more recs, have a gander at my Goodreads writing craft shelf!
If you read On Writing or have other craft book recs, let us know in the comments!