In his critically acclaimed bestseller On Writing, the prolific Stephen King shares the experiences, habits, and convictions that have shaped him and his work. 
 
Love him or hate him, you have to agree this guy knows what he’s talking about when it comes to writing output.
 
Here are a few of our favourite tips from the book, some obvious, some less so:
 

1. Basics

 

“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.”
 
This is nothing new, we all know it. But, it’s easy to forget. And most people manage to make time for one, but not the other. Remember, both reading and writing constantly are vital to exercising your craft.
 

 

2. Goals

 
Speaking of exercise! Having (and sticking to!) a daily word count goal is the best way to make a daily, no-excuses habit out of writing.
 

 

3. What if?

 
“The most interesting situations can usually be expressed as a what-if question.”
 
A useful trick to try in your brainstorming sessions. Keep asking what if? to delve into different situations and follow them through to a mix of different conclusions.
 
 

4. On characters

 
 
King advises that you focus on creating an interesting situation first, and then start filling out the characters, giving them life as they handle the situations they find themselves in.
 

 

 

5. But!

“The best stories always end up being about the people rather than the event.”

Well, that’s confusing. Not really. The trick is to start writing around the situation. As you write and fill out your characters, their personalities will evolve and solidify. They will become the most important part of your story, naturally, and you will fall in love with them. And so will your reader!

6. Ideal reader

“Call that one person you write for IDEAL READER. He or she is going to be in your writing room all the time.”

Your imaginary friend or frenemy. Your biggest critic and your biggest fan. Don’t write in the way that you think you should write, because the market wants it, or it’s a trend, or some archaic writing rules are dictating your style. Create your ideal reader in your head, and write for them and them alone.

 

7. Over-describing

The importance of leaving things to the reader’s imagination! Over-explaining insults your reader’s intelligence and can be very boring.

 

8. Plain English

“Never use ’emolument’ when you mean ‘tip’.” 

Simple. Don’t try to be fancy. Use relatable, authentic language that is true to your situation, voice, and your characters.

9. Your WHY

“If you can do it for joy, you can do it forever.”

And finally: Why are you writing? Does it really make you happy? Interrogate your own motivations and make sure you are writing it for the right reasons. If you really love it, you can do it forever.

 

 

Happy writing!