Book Review: “On Writing” by Stephen King
A word about my reviews (if you’ve read this before, skip to the review!):
My reviews are intended for those specifically who have read the novel and are looking for a place to read another’s take on the book and to also share their own thoughts. I don’t particularly like to read a recap of the story’s premise and who is who, etc, in reviews (I can easily find out a synopsis on Amazon or Goodreads) so you won’t find anything like that here. Unless I must explain a bit of premise detail in my review to give context to a thought or idea, I keep recaps to a bare minimum, if at all.
My thoughts on the books I read are by no means meant to be objective. I try to give an accurate portrait of what I experienced from reading this novel, what themes came to surface, in addition to what I liked and disliked about the book.
If you are curious about the book without having read it and would like to read my review- by all means! But please be forewarned that my reviews may contain spoilers.
“On Writing” by Stephen King
Prologue: I read this book a few weeks ago and since I’ve been trying out a new career transition recently, I haven’t been able to post as much as I would like. For shame, I know. However, reading “On Writing” prompted me to revisit King’s novels, as I was a huge fan of his circa the late 90’s early 2000’s. In fact, I’m now reading one of his most recent epics,”11/22/63″, all because of this memoir. What follows is the long version of my review, but the summed up version is that I absolutely loved “On Writing”.
A wonderful novel for writers and aspiring writers, or even just for those who enjoy Stephen King’s books. I learned three things from reading this “memoir on the craft” (a perfect sub caption of the title of this book, by the way, because it’s not really a memoir nor solely a book on writing):
1. I have actually read (and/or seen the movie adaptation) more Stephen King novels than I realized.
2. Stephen King is a great writer, not to mention incredibly prolific. I honestly didn’t pay attention to that fact prior to reading this book.
3. The biggest lesson on writing: read a lot, write a lot, and never forget that your childhood and life experiences are gold.
By far the greatest take away from King’s book is the permission to go and write. Yes, there are rules to writing but most likely you already know them. In any case, don’t worry about the rules- just write. Per King, rewrites will fix the mistakes anyway and then he gives a few pointers on what to watch out for. What I liked most was his comment that the story is the most important thing and as long as you write with the story in mind, all the supporting details will usually take care of themselves. I, myself, can get too caught up in the plot, character details, research, etc, so this advice (which I suspected all along but needed to hear) was music to my ears.
King writes about his childhood, early marriage, and beginning writing career with a tenderness and care that is truly inspiring. He struggled for many years with addiction and later through a painful recovery from a car accident that nearly killed him, which in turn became the catalyst to prompt him to finish this very book. Through it all, writing-along with his family-remained his saving grace. King is mostly known for his gory horror and fantasy fiction, but “On Writing” shows a completely new thoughtful and intuitive side to the man who wrote such disturbing novels as “Carrie”, “Christine”, and “The Shining”.
Even if you are not a huge Stephen King fan (I was in high school, but its been years since I’ve read his fiction) I still urge you to read this book, especially if you are a big reader. I’ve come to appreciate the books I’ve enjoyed for many years so much more because I now better understand the process it takes to create these gems.