On Writing – A Memoir of the Craft

Yesterday I finished reading Stephen King’s On writing. It’s an amazing book, it tells you so much about what being an author means. He included lots of useful tips I would like to share with you.

How to develop a story?

This is what resonated most with me. He describes the writing process as carving out a fossil from the earth. You have to be careful to not destroy it. You look for traces and follow the bones, you sometimes even work only with brushes. Don’t force a storyline on your characters. Throw stones on their way and let them overcome them. See how they react. This way the story stays interesting. You never know what will happen.

You should always write a first draft and edit out at least 10% in the second session. After writing the first one, you should take a break of several weeks. Work on something different. You will have a different view on your story afterwards.

I apply the same process to my paintings. I love working on portraits. I spread out thin layers of colour, start working on the eyes, switch to another part. Go back and forth. Layer by layer. If I don’t like something, I paint over it. Writing, like painting, is a craft.

What to cut?

Adverbs. “The road to hell is paved with adverbs,” he wrote. I know what he means. I always wrote these extremely descriptive tales with beautifully chosen adverbs that were fitting perfectly… Throw them out. Focus on the story. Focus on the characters.

Show, don’t tell. “Clean your room, for heaven’s sake!”, his mother shouted angrily. Do you think your readers are stupid? Of course she is angry! Don’t tell the reader that, he already knows. Leave the unimportant stuff out.

At the moment I’m editing all my texts from NaNoWriMo 2016 which is a lot of fun. I cut half of the words. These texts are much sharper now. Focused. The rhythm improved, the speed increased. I like them a lot better. If you want to see the results, just go back to my texts, I have written down how many words I deleted.

Write every day.

My plan for 2017 is to write every day. So far I have achieved this. It’s early in the year, though. A few nights ago I was restless and couldn’t go to sleep. I noticed: You haven’t written anything today! I sat at my computer for two hours and slept like a baby.

If you are struggling to summon the energy for writing: Listen to Hamilton, the musical. I am obsessed with it at the moment. Lin-Manuel Miranda. Gosh, that man’s a genius. I can’t understand how I haven’t listened to the songs yet!

“Non-Stop” and “My Shot”. These are the songs for all the desperate writers out there. Write day and night like you running out of time. Like you need it to survive. Go write. Then edit it. Throw the adverbs out. Get it out there. Open your door, let people read it. That’s what being a writer is. Do it for your love of words and stories.

NaNoWriMo 2016
Day 1: http://wp.me/p397E8-4WH
Day 2: http://wp.me/p397E8-4Xb
Day 3: http://wp.me/p397E8-4Xg
Day 4: http://wp.me/p397E8-4Xm
Day 5: http://wp.me/p397E8-4Xu
Day 6: http://wp.me/p397E8-4XA

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5 thoughts on “On Writing – A Memoir of the Craft

    1. That would be amazing, that’s so true! How can we get him to read our texts? 😉
      Who’s your favourite writer, by the way? 🙂

      I learned a lot through his book, it is really worth a read. I’m enjoying the editing process so far. It’s nice to make the texts a little more precise and take out all of the blabla xD
      He mentioned “The Elements of Style” in his book, maybe that’s a helpful resource.

      1. I also read On Writing. Stephen King just might be my favorite author because I get lost in his stories. I think he writes about what really scares him and it touches some place inside me that there is a truth to his writing.

      2. Ahh nice 🙂 It’s such a good book. I enjoy his writing a lot, too. Mine would probably be Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
        The most honest and true novels have the capacity to move us the most. There is this quote by Hemingway “Write the truest sentence that you know” which I love. I always try to set that as a foundation for my writing.
        Do you write fiction?

      3. Nah, I just blog. My goal is to keep my posts short. I had one blogger notice that my posts were very fast reads. Keep writing, you have a novel ready to escape!

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