It should come as no surprise that I love Stephen King. The Master of Horror is the master for a reason–when it comes to writing, he knows what he’s talking about. Whether you enjoy his work, you can’t deny that the man does work. In fact, he’s one of the hardest-working writers I’ve come to respect–especially because he, like me, heralds the importance of “doing the work” in order to achieve writing success.
Writer of all experience levels can learn something from Stephen King. (While we’re at it, if you haven’t read On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft yet, what are you waiting for?) With that in mind, here’s a list of my favorite Stephen King quotes about writing, as well as what we can learn from them.
“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.”
Like I’ve mentioned, King is a writer who wholeheartedly advocates working hard, putting pen to paper or fingers to keys, and getting serious about your writing. He also believes that no amount of courses, seminars, or special training can make up for not sitting down and writing. This philosophy is encouraging–with hard work, almost anyone can become successful as a writer. Additionally, if you want to become a better writer, King recommends writing and reading as much as you can. That’s it. (It’s not exactly that easy, but that’s about the gist.)
“Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.”
See my previous point. (Have I mentioned that King is a dedicated worker?) In King’s opinion–and in mine–true writers don’t just write when they’re feeling inspired. Instead, they come to the blank page ready to do the work, regardless of whether any inspiration shows up.
“tHE SCARIEST MOMENT IS ALWAYS JUST BEFORE YOU START. AFTER THAT, THINGS CAN ONLY GET BETTER.”
Having written hundreds of novels, King understands that the hardest challenge for writers to overcome is often just getting started. Once you can overcome the mental hurdle and the anxiety that comes from staring at a blank Word document, a lot of writing is downhill from there. If you’re still having trouble getting started, check out my post about writing for just a little bit at a time.
“To write is human, to edit is divine.”
You must edit. No matter how good you think your first draft is (and who does that, anyway?), you won’t be able to put out a good book without editing it. This quote also insinuates that it’s okay to feel like your first draft is garbage. After all, you can always edit once you finish the draft!
“i have spent a good many years since–too many, i think–being ashamed about what i write.”
This issue is one I used to run into all the time. I’ve had people look down on me for writing YA or for writing darker subject matter than some of my contemporaries. With Reflections, I’ve already had some people express concerns that it’s something I shouldn’t be writing–but you know what? I don’t feel that way. And like Stephen King, I don’t think it does a writer any good to feel ashamed about what they’re writing. If you’re writing what you love, and you’re writing for yourself–both of which you should be–there’s no reason to feel anything less than happy with what you’re putting out there.
What are your favorite quotes about writing?
“To write is human, to edit is divine.” @brianawrites wants to know what your favorite writing quotes are! (Click to tweet)