I like to think that I am a writer. I write every day, I work hard to get things published (which rarely happens), and I have high hopes for big projects like books, screenplays, television shows, plays, etc. I’ve done a lot. I don’t think I could be described as a writer, though. Reading Stephen King’s On Writing proved this, too. That sounds depressing but this is absolutely a bright, blinding positive.
The book is an memoir intertwined with a writing reference textbook. King seeks to educate anyone who considers themself a writer by mapping his own journey to becoming one. He doesn’t intend to be touching or funny but he provides you with every emotion available to the human condition at all points in the book. This accomplishment obviously highlights the magic of the writer: to make a person feel everything while literally talking about nothing. (For example, grammar.)
On Writing is an invaluable resource. I found myself marking it up and earring pages so that I could go back and use it as both inspiration and a reminder in craft. I wanted to blow up pages and use them as wallpaper, to have his words remind me of how a writer acts. While I have never read a single text of Stephen King’s before (at least to my knowledge), this being my first introduction to his work resonated through my body, like I was a bell and this book the clapper activating me. On Writing turned something on.
It’s an inspiring book, obviously. It made me question my practice and, as I suspected, motivated an overhaul of my creative lifestyle. It opened the door for more work and aggravated an excitement of what could be. The book paired nicely with a new philosophy I adopted to think of myself in the third person, in order to boss myself around. All this combined to be a force for self-change.
Maybe I was just looking for something or maybe I needed a snap in my creative life, something to show me that I can do it regardless of my circumstance. The book was released in 2000 and, between now and then, the writing landscape has both exploded and imploded—but it gave me a confidence to go forward. It didn’t necessarily make me feel like I am a better writer—but I can be. This is my year of creative awakening and Stephen King’s On Writing played a big role in this.
Yes, my love for this book may purely be circumstantial. It’s a book that all writers must read. It is vital information.