20 Stephen King Quotes to Turn You Into a Scary Good Writer

Looking for inspiring Stephen King quotes about writing? Here are my favorites (along with personal thoughts and takeaways for each).

Have you ever wished you could peer inside the mind of one of the greatest writers in the world and find out exactly what makes them tick?

Well… here’s your chance.

Stephen King has published 57 novels, all of them bestsellers. He has sold more than 350 million copies of his works. According to Forbes, he earns approximately $40 million per year, making him one of the richest writers in the world.

And now he’s going to tell you exactly how to become a scary good writer.

Sort of.

In 2002, King temporarily abandoned writing horror novels, instead publishing On Writing, a little book chronicling his rise to fame and discussing exactly what he believes it takes to become a good writer. Since then, it’s become the most popular book about writing ever written, pulling in over 1000 reviews on Amazon and selling God only knows how many copies.

Here’s why:

The book is… magic.

I’ve read On Writing from cover to cover at least five times, and each time, I saw a noticeable improvement in my prose. For one, it teaches the fundamentals of the craft, which is something no writer should ignore, but it also sort of rubs off on you.

As you read through King’s life story, you can’t help but see that, to him, writing isn’t a chore. It’s an adventure through undiscovered worlds where no one knows what’ll happen next (not even him).

And it’s contagious.

You can’t read On Writing and not come away with a smile on your face. Where other writing books are focused on the mechanics of the written word, King shows you how to capture the joy of the craft. You’ll find yourself wanting to write, not because of fame or fortune, but because it’s fun, and there’s nothing else you would rather do.

Personally, it’s inspired me more than any other book I’ve ever read, and if I could recommend only one book to writers and bloggers, On Writing would be it. Seriously, need a great gift for the writer or blogger in your life? Get On Writing.

But don’t take my word for it. Below, I’ve collected a monster list of my favorite quotes from the book, and I also wrote down some of my own thoughts on exactly how they apply to writers.

If you enjoy them, grab yourself a copy of On Writing over at Amazon (affiliate link). You won’t regret it.

Here are the quotes:

1. “I’ve written because it fulfilled me. Maybe it paid off the mortgage on the house and got kids through college, but those things were on the side — I did it for the buzz. I did it for the pure joy of the thing. And if you can do it for the joy, you can do it forever.”

In the back of their mind, every popular writer harbors the same secret:

Given no other choices, we would happily do what we do for free.

Yes, adulation and prestige that stems from making money as a popular writer is nice, but it’s not what drives us to the keyboard. It’s not what wakes us up in the morning, excited and ready to write. It’s not what keeps us glued to a computer screen for 80% of our day.

Stephen King quote #1

No, it’s about the buzz. It’s about the joy. It’s about watching an idea take shape on the page and knowing your audience will love it.

All the other benefits are just a happy bonus.

2. “Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life as well.”

You know Zig Zigler’s old saying, “You can have everything you want in life, if you help enough other people get what they want?”

Well, it’s pretty much the secret to writing.

Stephen King quote #2

If you want more traffic, ask yourself, “What can I give my readers today that would blow their minds? How can I turn their life upside down? What can I say that they couldn’t help but share?”

Answer those questions, and you won’t have to worry about traffic. You’ll get all you can handle.

3. “You can’t please all of the readers all of the time; you can’t please even some of the readers all of the time, but you really ought to try to please at least some of the readers some of the time.”

You want the formula for writing popular blog posts and articles?

Here it is:

  1. Jot down a list of blog topics you could write about
  2. Circle the ones at least 80% of your readers would find irresistible
  3. Write about those topics and nothing else

Stephen King quote #3

Simple, but it takes discipline.

The better you become at cultivating that discipline, the more popular your writing will become.

4. “You can approach the act of writing with nervousness, excitement, hopefulness, or even despair — the sense that you can never completely put on the page what’s in your mind and heart. You can come to the act with your firsts clenched and your eyes narrowed, ready to kick ass and take down names. You can come to it because you want a girl to marry you or because you want to change the world. Come to it any way but lightly. Let me say it again: you must not come lightly to the blank page.”

Oh, but so many of us do.

We think of our blogs as online journals, places to jot down our thoughts, our own little corners of the world where we can say what we think without fear of anyone cutting us off. It’s easy, harmless, fun, so we do it without thinking, without caring, without giving it the respect it really deserves.

Big mistake.

Stephen King quote #4

If you want the world to take you seriously, first you have to take yourself seriously. You have to look at your blog as not just a blog but an opportunity to change the world.

And then you have to write as if the whole world is listening.

5. “I remember an immense feeling of possibility at the idea, as if it had been ushered into a vast building with closed doors and had been given leave to open any I liked. There were more doors than one person could ever open in a lifetime, I thought (and still think).”

After a few months or years of writing about the same topic, you might be tempted to feel like there’s nothing else to say. You wonder how you’re going to write a post for the next day, much less the next three or four years.

I’ve been there, and you know what?

It’s nonsense.

Stephen King Quote #5

Writers don’t run out of ideas. They just become lazy explorers.

The world is full of breathtaking things to write about. Our job as writers is to find them and bring them back to our audience, letting them “Ooh” and “Aah” at our exotic discoveries.

So, get off your ass, and go exploring.

Watch a documentary. Go on a trip. Read a damn book.

Do anything but sit there in front of the computer and wonder what to write next. That’s just pathetic.

6. “If you’re just starting out as a writer, you could do worse than strip your television’s electric plug wire, wrap a spike around it, and then stick it back into the wall. See what blows, and how far.”

A couple years ago, I decided to do a test. I cut my TV time to one show per day and then read for two hours instead.

The result?

My creativity exploded. I went from writing 1,000 words per day to pumping out over 2,000 words per day in the same amount of time.

Stephen King Quote #6

So, now I’m a believer. Television may be popular, but it’s poisonous to creativity, and all truly dedicated writers need to limit their exposure to it.

7. “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.”

Of course, most writers do neither. We start a blog, squeeze in the occasional post between going to the gym and picking up take-out, and then expect it to somehow lead to fame and fortune.

Sorry, but that’s not how it works.

Stephen King Quote #7

Every popular writer I know reads at least one book every week and writes at least 1,000 words every day.

Yes, it’s a lot, but success comes at a price, folks. Are you willing to pay it?

8. “Put your desk in the corner, and every time you sit down to write, remind yourself why it isn’t in the middle of the room. Life isn’t a support system for art. It’s the other way around.”

In our case, it’s not the desk we have to fear, but the smartphone, the tablet, and the laptop, all jangling for our attention, all sucking us in, all immersing us into the world of social media.

And it’s dangerous.

Stephen King Quote #8

One day you wake up to realize your life is nothing more than a series of digital communications. You wonder, is all that writing and twittering and facebooking really serving you, or are you serving them? Who is the master, and who is the slave?

If you ever find the answer is the latter, disconnect for a while. Social media is supposed to be an echo of your real life, not the other way around. Never forget that.

9. “All the arts depend upon telepathy to some degree, but I believe that writing is the purest distillation.”

In school, we are taught writing has three and only three purposes: to inform, to entertain, and to persuade. It’s true, I think, but it’s also missing a subtle requirement:

Transference.

To inform, first you have to be informed. To entertain, first you have to be entertained. To persuade, first you have to be persuaded.

Stephen King Quote #9

Then and only then are you ready to write.

And when you do, your job isn’t so much jotting down words on the page as beaming the ideas inside your head into the heads of other people. Words are just the medium through which the transfer happens.

10. “Paragraphs are almost always as important for how they look as for what they say; they are maps of intent.”

Ever stopped to look at the way popular blogs are formatted?

Probably not, unless you’re a total nerd (like me), but give it a try sometime. You’ll notice a surprising pattern:

They all use short paragraphs.

Most of the paragraphs are two or three sentences. Occasionally, they’ll use a one-sentence paragraph to emphasize an important point.

Stephen King Quote #10

Here’s why:

The shorter your paragraphs are, the less dense and threatening the post looks. It’s a simple thing, but it has a huge impact on how many people stick around and read what you have to say.

11. “Writing is refined thinking.”

A lot of writing books tell you to “write like you talk,” and while I suppose that’s fine for a beginner, it’s death if you ever want to be a respected authority. Yes, your writing should be conversational, but it should be the conversation you would have if you had time to think everything through and say exactly the right things.

Stephen King Quote #11

The truth is, any great piece of writing is preceded by hours and hours of thinking.

Have more respect for the power of words than to spit them out without any real forethought.

12. “Write with the door closed, and rewrite with the door open.”

If you’re ever writing a post, and you get stuck, try this:

Write as if no one in the world will ever read it.

Say exactly what you feel. Don’t think. Just get your thoughts out there in all their disheveled, chaotic glory.

This is what Stephen calls writing with the” door closed.” It’s just you and your work, nobody else, and it’s the first stage of writing.

Stephen King Quote #12

The second stage is opening the door to the rest of the world — a metaphor for pondering how the average Joe might respond to your new creation and making the changes necessary to help it survive.

And yes, there will be changes. Lots and lots of them.

13. “We need to experience the mediocre and the outright rotten; such experience helps us to recognize those things when they begin to creep into our own work, and to steer clear of them.”

It’s happened to all of us.

You click a link, and you stumble onto somebody’s blog. Not just any blog, mind you, but an extraordinarily crappy one, devoid of any comments, wit, or charm, and yet somehow managing to survive.

Stephen King Quote #13

When confronted with such a pathetic creature, most people make a bolt for the “Back” arrow, and that’s fine, if you’re just a reader. If you’re a writer, on the other, you’re far better served by sticking around and analyzing exactly what makes the blog so pathetic.

  • Why are their headlines so incomprehensible?
  • What, exactly, makes the blog look amateurish?
  • How does their grammar, vocabulary, and sentence structure make them sound uneducated?

Sure, studying the best is a good way to learn, but so is studying the worst, not because you want to emulate them, but because you begin to “recognize those things as they creep into your own work.”

14. “This isn’t the Ouija board or the spirit-world we’re talking about here, but just another job like laying pipe or driving long-haul trucks.”

To many aspiring writers, a great piece of writing is something mystical, filled with almost frightening power, and they look at the writers who create such magic with reverence, maybe even worship, longing for the day when they can discover their closely-guarded “secrets.”

It’s silly.

Stephen King Quote #14

Yes, there is some magic to it, but the same magic exists in every type of art, and it’s accessible to everyone. Here’s how:

Write. Every day. For years.

Is it hard work?

Yes.

But so is any job worth doing.

15. “We’ve all heard someone say, ‘Man, it was so great (or so horrible/strange/funny)… I just can’t describe it!’ If you want to be a successful writer, you must be able to describe it, and in a way that will cause your reader to prickle with recognition.”

If you pay attention to only one quote in this article, pay attention to this one.

Our job as writers isn’t so much saying what we think as putting what our readers think into words, describing it with such clarity and intimacy they suspect us of reading their minds.

Stephen King Quote #15

Do that, and you won’t have to beg your readers for their attention.

They’ll follow you to the ends of the earth.

16. “Not a week goes by that I don’t receive at least one pissed-off letter (most weeks there are more) accusing me of being foulmouthed, bigoted, homophobic, murderous, frivolous, or downright psychopathic.”

Great writing polarizes people.

Some people will love it, and some people hate it. It’s the way you know you’re on the right track.

It’s also the way you know you’re off-track.

Stephen King Quote #16

If you’re not getting any hate mail, it’s not because you’re the world’s most lovable writer. It’s because you lack the conviction to say anything of substance.

The penalty isn’t death. It’s worse:

Invisibility.

17. “There are lots of would-be censors out there, and although they may have different agendas, they all want basically the same thing: for you to see the world they see… or to at least shut up about what you do see that’s different. They are the agents of the status quo.”

Many a talented writer has been shocked and even silenced when confronted with the seething, almost bestial hatred of critics. You think, “Well, I’ll just ignore it,” but it eats at you, and even if you succeed at not responding (no easy feat), you often find yourself thinking about what the critics will say when you write.

And there are two ways to respond.

Stephen King Quote #17

You can either shut up, taking what was your unique and wonderful about your work and shuttering it away in a mental closet.

Or, you can fight back, not by criticizing the critic, but by realizing you’re in a war against the status quo, and the only way to fight back is to be delightfully, unapologetically weird.

18. “Try any g*ddam thing you like, no matter how boringly normal or outrageous. If it works, fine. If it doesn’t, toss it.”

How do you know when you’re going too far?

You don’t. At least, not at first.

One day, write something so new and different it’s either a work of genius or the stupidest thing conceived in the mind of man. The next, examine your creation to find out which is true.

Stephen King Quote #18

If it’s stupid, delete it. If it’s genius, publish it.

The mistake most writers make, of course, is never trying anything new at all. They do whatever their English teachers told them is “right.”

And that’s just sad.

19. “You undoubtedly have your own thoughts, interests, and concerns, and they have arisen, as mine have, from your experiences and adventures as a human being… You should use them in your work.”

Notice he said “use them in your work,” not “let them become your work.”

Including stories about your life in your blog posts and articles is fine and dandy, especially if those stories are interesting, but most writers suffer not from a lack of stories but from an extravagance of them, writing about little nothings that happened to them and somehow expecting these boring trivialities to make them famous.

Stephen King Quote #19

Sorry, but it doesn’t work that way.

Stories are like condiments. They add flavor, sure enough, but eating them all by themselves is just gross.

20. “While it is impossible to make a competent writer out of a bad writer, and while it is equally impossible to make a great writer out of a good one, it is possible, with lots of hard work, dedication, and timely help, to make a good writer out of a merely competent one.”

And finally, we come to the ray of hope.

You want thousands of loyal readers who love your work and happily tell all their friends to check you out?

You don’t have to be a great writer. In the beginning, you don’t even have to be good.

You just have to be competent.

Stephen King Quote #20

What, exactly, is “competence?” Here’s my take:

You can write down your thoughts, and people think, “Hmm, that makes sense.”

Maybe you don’t come across as a genius. Maybe your vocabulary is simple. Maybe your grammar isn’t even good enough to get a pass from your high school English teacher.

But you have good ideas.

You can communicate those ideas.

People like what you’re saying.

If you can do those three things, you can work on the rest. No, you’ll probably never win a Pulitzer, but newsflash, I don’t know a single popular writer or blogger who has one of those sitting on their bookshelf.

Most are just merely competent writers who, over the years, got better. They wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote, and one day, they woke up to discover the world liked what they had to say.

The secret, though?

Writing and writing and writing and writing.

Which of These Great Stephen King Quotes is Your Favorite?

The reason most writers fail isn’t a lack of talent or smarts or technical know-how. It’s a refusal to take what they do seriously. They don’t believe their blog can be anything, so they never put in the work to make it anything.

But you’re going to be different, right?

You’re going to commit yourself to learning the craft?

You’re going to sit down and actually write, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, until you really and truly get good at this?

You better bet your ass.

If not, I’ll come down there and knock the hell out of ya. 😉

191 thoughts on “20 Stephen King Quotes to Turn You Into a Scary Good Writer”

  1. “On Writing” is one of the few books I read again and again. As for reading in general, you’d have to pry my Kindle out of my cold, dead hands.

  2. You know how to hit our soft spots, Jon! Stephen King is just about the best there is at setting scenes, storytelling, and applying pathos and gravitas to just about any situation. Gripping, ghoulish and gobsmackingly good.

    “Making people prickle with recognition” is just about the best advice there is. And you needn’t be a graduate of literature to do it – you simply have to punch in your personality packed with the passion for which you’re renowned, and any piece of content can achieve that holy grail.

    Thanks, Jon – sparkling and insightful as ever.

    1. This sort of thing is just filler, a total ripoff. STEPHEN KING said these things, and then you copied them out and have no original thoughts of your own. It’s not exactly plagiarism, but the next best thing: When you lack originality, cite others until your readers are blue in the face.

      1. Sophie are you kidding me? Did you read the same article I read??? No original thoughts of his own?

        Your comment clearly points to one thing – incredibly poor comprehension. My sincere condolences to you.

      2. Doug DiZoglio

        No original thoughts of his own? hmm, excuse me a second while I check something. Ok thanks for waiting. Sophie, I have just one question to ask you and I am very serious! Are you under the impression that SK wrote the entire column? Your comment caused me to go back and double check something that was so obvious I was embarrassed to do it! That is the reason for my weak attempt at humor with the “excuse me a second…………….” comment! Now I will excuse you while you go back and see your mistake, and NOTICE< your THREE INSULTS AND THREE ACCUSATIONS IN a 5 line ppg. You are an angry person Sophie, and I also give my sincere condolences, unless of course you object to my use of another commenters word!{condolences

        Hmmm,Almost plagiarism huh, Well I have to check on a family member, she is almost pregnant, you know, like not exactly pregnant but………..! see ya

      3. Did you like really read the article, If not for mentioning Stephen King, you almost sound like, you read a different article, hit the comment button and landed on this. Please read again and see if your comment stands.

        Thank you as always JM (His Royal Awesomeness ;-)) for this awesome article

      4. “filler…” lol.. I loved this post and it’s just given me an extra boost today to read this comment because, as Jon was saying: you can’t please everybody. I appreciate how much thought you put into this post Jon and thank you!

      5. I had the same thought as Sophie, actually. I was promised “20 tips for writing” from Stephen King, and instead got 20 musings on writing – some were tips, some weren’t. It felt cheap and like click bait.

  3. For anyone who’s skimming this article, I want to point out the most important thing…

    As Jon morrow says, ” Every popular blogger I know reads at least one book every week and writes at least 1,000 words every day”

    And you know what? It’s probably more than that.

    I got “hooked” on books back in 2007, and I haven’t stopped. I’ll go through phases where I’ll read as many as 3 or 4 books in a week.

    And if you look at my writing from 2007 compared to my writing in 2012, you’ll notice it’s much more crisp, clear, and awesome.

    Also, funny side note: I haven’t read On Writing, but I’m ordering it right now.

      1. Terry E. Cohen

        I frequently “Bird by Bird,” too. Re-reading it, actually. Natalie Goldberg’s “Writing Down the Bones” is another instructive and inspiring one.

  4. “On Writing” is one of my all-time favorites! Anyone interested in writing, at whatever level, must have this title in their library.
    Thanks Jon for highlighting this so well!

  5. I loved this post. Thank you so much for this Jon! Stephen King is a tremendously talented writer and I love to read his books. This is wonderful info and the writer in me now wants to come out and explore!!!

  6. I’d been resisting buying this book, but you’ve just sealed the deal for me.

    My favorite quote by far (one close to my heart) ::

    “While it is impossible to make a competent writer out of a bad writer, and while it is equally impossible to make a great writer out of a good one, it is possible, with lots of hard work, dedication, and timely help, to make a good writer out of a merely competent one.”

    1. Jason C Daniels

      Well, the title of his book was “On Writing.” It wasn’t “On Writing Horror Fiction.” I made the happy mistake of thinking it would be really about the second title when I bought it years ago. I get to do a lot of technical documentation in my career. My writing has improved a lot since reading it and taking the advice seriously. Mr. King is an excellent communicator.

  7. I read your post. I smiled, nodded, and shivered with excitement as I did so.

    Let all who read this know they will find power, pragmatism, inspiration and a little bit of whoop-ass woven into those words. A really gorgeous delivery of an extraordinary message.

    Thank you for reminding me why I became a writer in the first place.

  8. “So, get off your ass, and go exploring.” Love this!

    I have a stack of magazines that are begging me to read them along with Madeleine Albright’s “Prague Winter: A Personal Story of Remembrance and War, 1937-1948.” But sometimes a writer’s writing explodes and reading material has to take a backseat for a while. I’ll get to mine. It’s on my calendar. 🙂

    P.S.

    Stephen King’s “On Writing” rocks! I was a part of writing groups in Arizona, and almost every writer would bring the book to a group meeting.

  9. I loved On Writing when I read it about 10 years ago. Looks like I’d better read it again. And again. And again! Thanks Jon for your as always great advice!

  10. Great post, as always! My college professor assigned this book and after years of just a few flickers of light I felt as if the flame became a blaze. I wanted to write but felt that I needed, as King wrote, a permission slip. I realized the power was in my hands. Thanks for the reminder of just how amazing this book is.

  11. I’m always looking to improve my writing. Great post, I’m going to download the Kindle version now.

    I’ve already written down the Morrow opening, plus the other 10 steps from your course. Now those were great writing tips. They’ve made me rethink how to approach writing posts.

    Cheers

  12. I’m on my second reading. It really IS the best book on writing out there, mainly because it touches on stuff that go way beyond mechanics.

    Jon, my favorite was the piece you quoted about the desk in the middle of the room. But I came away with a different inspiration. In the first third of the book, King wrote the most entertaining autobiography I’ve read in a long time, and got naked about his battles with his various demons, including alcoholism and narcotics addiction. But when he finally re-discovered his joy of writing, changing the kind and location of that writing desk was the first thing he did.

    This act symbolized going back to basics… rediscovering the joy in life itself, and letting it provide fodder for writing, instead of allowing the writing to become life’s focus. There’s a paradox in this concept. King rates himself as a “good” writer, but doesn’t believe he is “great,” where he puts Hemingway, Dickens and Shakespeare. And one of the things that makes a difference is how often “the muse” visits to help a writer produce pure magic. Although he doesn’t say so explicitly, King seems to feel that this magic is a function of both the discipline of your daily writing routines, and your ability to find the true joys of life.

    Thanks for recommending the book, Jon. I only got it when you first recommended it in your guest-blogging course.

  13. My best moment of this post was, “The reason most bloggers fail isn’t a lack of talent or smarts or technical know-how. It’s a refusal to take what they do seriously.”

    Ouch! That’s me. When I blog for myself I’ve tended to smirk in the face of seriousness, just in case it tried to give me a ticking off.

    I promise to take my own blogging as seriously as I ever have all my work for other people!

  14. Good evening Jon,

    I started reading this thinking ‘ nah, not my cup of tea!’- I’m not a Stephen King fan at all. But I have to say I will now have a look at ‘On Writing’, to see what impact it might have on the way I write.

    Having only recently joined the legions who write for leisure and the pleasure of others, I’m mindful I need a new ‘voice’. I do the formal, academic and business-like stuff with relative ease, hopefully the book will give me a few tips for ‘sexing’ things up a little!

    Just have to say, I so agree with you that writing shouldn’t be seen as something we do without thinking or caring. Whilst the actual writing of posts doesn’t take long, the thought, research and crafting takes hours. It isn’t all at the keyboard either.

    And I’m standing right beside you when point out that presentation is paramount.Great content gets lost if the reader has to struggle to keep their eyes on the right line!

    Thanks for a great post…… having to stop myself giving you 10/10 – I’m a frustrated English teacher at heart, I suppose!

  15. P.S. A follow-up thought:

    I will probably always want to have at least one personal blog where I just post all my little nothings. Blogging keeps me sane. I love to write all my crap down, but I’ve lost every other type of journal I’ve ever tried to keep!

  16. This is such great stuff, thank you for taking the time to share this with us!

    I first heard about On Writing recently on the self publishing podcast and now that I’ve read this I know that I absolutely must get it. I am a blogger and now I am working on my first novel – there is no better time for me to read this.

    Thanks again!

  17. Good Job Jon. Does this mean I better get of my ass and start my making a comment? Guess so!

    i shall get the book On Writing. The one thing that I have to get better at is putting my thoughts down. I have them scattered all around at time.

    By the way I wish I knew how to display my post like you do. Guess I better experiment with WP more.

    As for poor blog post, yes, I do like to read through them. Makes me feel like I am making headway. have to love that.

    Thanks again Jon and blessings to you,
    Debbie

  18. You have a knack for motivating me to achieve my best, Jon! I always look forward to your blogs, and this one doesn’t disappoint. Love him or detest him, there’s no denying that Stephen King is an expert on this subject. I haven’t read “On Writing,” but after digesting the profound snippets you’ve compiled here, I’ll have to push it up on my wish list! 🙂

  19. I hate to even admit this, but your blog post left me in tears. Not because it made me sad, but because it resonated so much with me. I am the writer you speak of. All this time I thought I was taking my writing and my blog seriously. All of this time I thought I was working toward something. And now I feel like I’m a total mess. But in a good way. I feel like I have all the raw material needed to become the serious writer you talk about. I’ve written and published a couple eGuides and hundreds upon hundreds of articles, blog posts, guest posts and newsletters (among other things), but I’ve never taken it seriously enough.

    Today, that all changes. Thank you Jon.

  20. Going surfing to see if I can buy the book! I was not aware of the book, probably because I am not a fan of horror but, darn, those are good tips and I want to read the rest!

  21. I’m truly hoping the secret is “writing and writing and writing and writing,” I comment as I go back to more writing and writing and writing. Thanks for a masterful article about a book from a master.

  22. Jon,
    It’s no surprise you’re read On Writing more than once. Stephen King is a master and I too am a huge fan. I thank you for the few snippets you shared from his book and will re-read my copy tonight!

  23. I’ve not read Stephen King’s book about writing, but I have read Brenda Ueland’s, so I don’t know if the points are the same, but I suspect they might be.

    Write, write often, write everyday, write because there is nothing else that will satisfy that as yet unnamed drive for what’s inside to come out.

    Short paragraphs, long sentences, words out of order, nothing makes the slightest bit of difference, except to let those words out into the wild.

    Thanks, Jon. I feel better after reading this today. 🙂

  24. Farhan: It’s not a violation of copyright to quote an author like this. I don’t know if there is an exact percentage, but I would probably have to use huge excerpts of the book to violate his copyright. And even then, I doubt they would care since I’m also promoting the book. 🙂

    Also, the photo is from the Creative Commons. So, no attribution required. 🙂

  25. Yeah Linda, what’s funny is I wasn’t a Stephen King fan either until I read On Writing. It impressed me so much though, I immediately went out and got one of his books, and I haven’t stopped reading them since.

    And yep, it will absolutely help you spice up your writing. I got my BA in English literature, so I know what you’re talking about when you refer to the academic style. King really helped me overcome that.

  26. Hi Jon
    thanks for sharing this superb post. I wasn’t aware of Stephen’s book but I am now and you can bet I’ll be reading it very soon. Thanks for sharing these tips. The line that stood out for me was “You have to look at your blog as not just a blog but an opportunity to change the world.”

    Thanks for wake up call!

  27. ‘On Writing’ had been on my wish list for a while. This post prompted me to buy it on kindle (it downloaded while I was reading the rest of the post).
    Good to know I’m doing some things about right – e.g. short paragraphs. I wilt just looking at some blogs, and can’t be bothered to read them.
    What I must do is a lot more writing. – I already read quite a bit – especially since I retired.
    Thanks for a great post, Jon

  28. Jon, this post is great. I read the book a year ago. A fantastic book full of grat advice and a wonderful real story. I appreciate you extracting quotes from the book and tell your position “On Writing”.
    Keep up the good work. Jon

  29. This is just the encouragement that I need to read. Steven King has an off the scale imagination. Seeing his quotes puts his writing in a more accessible position for me.

    Reading frequently is not new for me, but, daily writing has only recently been added to my plate of goals.

    Thanks Jon for sharing inspiring and rewarding quotes.

    David Ivey
    BlackBucketBrew.com InBox Magazine Editor

  30. My college boyfriend and I used to argue about Stephan King. My boyfriend was a Radio/TV/Film major, I was a Journalism major. He thought King was the best writer on the planet. I argued that great writers wrote great prose, King wrote plot.

    I was an idiot.

    That boyfriend is now a very successful Hollywood producer because he understands plot/dialogue/pacing, learned partially from years of reading King. I now own a very well-worn copy of On Writing.

    🙂

  31. I read King’s book a couple years ago and was equally impressed by his no-nonsense advice and how true it felt. What I love about this post is the way it moves King’s ideas into the realm of blogging (and all writing) so that one senses its wisdom. We hear a lot of smart advice. This is wise — and it applies to all of life, not just writing and blogging. Do the work to get to creative. Thanks. I’m going to post the key points next to my computer! One Question: Even if you’re writing awesome, if one has a niche blog, a topic that just may not grab most people by the throat, does one change the focus — or just be content to please a few people most of the time?

  32. Linda Gartz: Personally, I think the whole “niche blogging” concept is largely ineffective and maybe even dangerous to your career. You’re much, much better off picking a topic lots of people are interested in and blogging about that, assuming you have something interesting to say, of course. 🙂

  33. Kathy: Glad to hear you’re now one of the converted. We’ll overlook your earlier transgressions. 😉

  34. A very good article. I’m going to purchase On Writing as soon as I’m done here. One of the sections brought to mind a blog post of mine: How Long is Too Long. http://www.sophie-dawson.com/1/post/2012/04/how-long-is-too-long.html

    It deals with formatting and lengths of blogs. You hit the nail on the head, in my view. Write in short paragraphs since it translates into a more pleasing and easier read.

    Now I must go order another book to read. Thanks again.

  35. Jon, this is post is incredible.

    When I first started writing and blogging — and when I joined your course — I basically studied On Writing by King and Bird by Bird by Anne Lamont. Both books had profound effects on my writing, knowledge of the craft, and motivated me to pursue it.

    I only read On Writing once, but definitely going to be reading it soon. And this time, I’ll probably learn so much more than the first time reading it.

    Great post and thank you for writing/sharing this.

  36. Daniel Robertson

    Thanks for this epic post, Jon.

    I haven’t read On Writing yet, but this makes me want to run out and grab it.

    I fell in love with reading when I read the Narnia series as a boy. I had a dream of being a professional writer, but I never really pursued it.

    Not until the last few months, anyway.

    The biggest hurdle has been getting out of my own head and just getting out there and doing it. This post has encouraged me to just write and forget about all the mental funk I sometimes face.

  37. I’m surprised more writers don’t resent that King essentially claims most writers will never be great – because a many, many writers believe they either are great or will be great.

  38. Jon,

    You’ve done it again. You’ve distilled the wisdom of another fantastic writer and added your own flavor to create a recipe for improving my writing and dedication to the craft.

    I haven’t read On Writing, but I’m happy to have your affiliate link to grab my copy.

    Leaving your blog inspired, as always.

  39. Obviously, you didn’t catch King’s stance on adverbs, and left “frighteningly” in the title. 🙂

  40. But even King was known to break his own rules quite often. Personally I don’t have a problem with the use of adverbs he refers to.. except when they are obviously overdone just because the writer got in the habit of using them and didn’t bother to proofread his/her own work properly.

    Just to further critique, You have to be careful with constructions like “fuhgeddaboudit.” They only make the intended impact for certain audiences, while other readers may not relate just because of cultural nuances.

  41. I never thought it would be possible for you to top your other blogs but you have. This was awesome and I would have joyously read it even if it had twice as long (and I almost it were.) It was like a beatiful piece of music that one never wants to end.

    It’s interesting that you chose Stephen King because, of the books of his that I have read, I may not have always liked what he was saying but I always loved how he said it. I think he’s one of the best writers of all times (and not to mention most prolific.)

    Thank you for sharing.

  42. “If you want more traffic, ask yourself, “What can I give my readers today that would blow their minds? How can I turn their life upside down? What can I say that they couldn’t help but share?”
    Well, you certainly have blown my mind today! Thank you for the inspiration to keep on writing, and the quotes. I’ve
    just ordered On Writing and am looking forward to reading it.

  43. Well… what is there to say about amazing tips on writing from one of the world’s legends?

    And then applied by one of blogging’s legends?

    And then commented on by Social Triggers legend… Derek Halpern 🙂

    “As Jon morrow says, ” Every popular blogger I know reads at least one book every week and writes at least 1,000 words every day””

    Derek highlights a great point, but I believe this very blog has a guest post recommending I do NOT write 1000 words a day, but instead cut back on my posting :P.

    //smartblogger.com/posting-every-day/

    Or maybe what was left out of that post, is that we should write a lot each day, but only POST once a week.

    Just sayin’ 🙂

  44. Andy: I ignored that one on purpose, actually. I think adverbs are fine if used properly. You’ll find them in all of Stephen King’s works as well, so I’m not sure how seious he was about hating them.

  45. Mary Ann: I would agree that he is one of the best and most prolific authors of all time. I hope he keeps writing until the day he dies.

  46. Jason: Yep, you figured it out. Write 1000 words per day, but publish only about once per week. For example, this post here was originally over 4000 words. That’s four days of writing. Also, you can and should be writing other things, such as newsletters, sales letters, product promotions, etc., and all of that writing applies to your daily quota as well.

  47. Man, what an awesome post!! A few friends have recommended this book to me now..I’m gonna have to pick it up.

    Thank you for highlighting some of the best parts for us – and making it so relevant to blogging! I’ve been very resistant to take my writing seriously – setting a schedule, writing every day, etc… I’m hoping this will be the kick in the pants I need to get real with it. Thanks Jon!

  48. Anyone serious about writing should already know all of this. I’ve read “On Writing,” enjoyed it, but found it light on the technical advice that even mildly practiced writers crave. If the highest of your literary ambitions is blogging–and you happen to be totally ignorant–then maybe this book will help you refine your banal observations into something palatable to your kind. Otherwise, study poetry so you can learn to make music out of your sentences and then climb up through short fiction or journalism/blogging and into whatever long form you are most interested in.

  49. Wow, I couldn’t finish this article because my head was swimming with so many good ideas!

    I like your idea of writing down what you can write about and focus on the topic ideas that 80% of your readers will want to hear about and then write on those topics!

    That makes so much sense and is so simple at the same time.

    The quotes from King are amazing. That’s why I had to stop.

    I did read somewhere else that the man has a practice of writing 5,000 words before breakfast!

    I had no idea he makes approximately 40 million per year – and he gets to do what he loves on top of that!

  50. Alastair: Becoming a successful writer has very little to do with mechanics. I studied poetry in great detail when I was getting my BA in English literature, and while it was helpful, it was nowhere near as helpful as practicing the fundamentals Stephen King recommends above.

    Also, who said this post wasn’t written for beginners? If you didn’t get anything from it, that’s fine, but there’s no need to criticize those who did.

  51. Great post Jon. I’ve got a shelf of ‘So you want to be a writer’ type books – and another shelf of books on the technical aspects of writing – and ‘On Writing’ is definitely one of my favourites. I reread it pretty much every year, because like you, it fires up my enthusiasm levels and reminds me about all the stuff you mentioned.

  52. Jon,

    Thanks for your response. My intention isn’t to hurt anyone’s feelings; I just believe it’s condescending to teach beginning writers with a scaled down pedagogy.

    If the goal here is just to help folks loosen up and get their automatic writing groove on, great–that really is wonderful–but let’s not pretend that’s likely to produce a Frighteningly Good Writer.

    Wouldn’t these people be better off reading the four (slim) volumes of the Paris Review Interviews, which contain all of King’s advice, after a fashion, and galaxies more? (To anyone reading, many of those interviews are also available free on their website.)

    My BA is in English as well, and I’m convinced that the close reading of poetry–alongside the development of a New Critical approach to reading prose–is what makes Nabokovs, Updikes, Pynchons, and Amises. I just don’t see the point in teaching people to aim lower than the highest achievements in the language.

    Kind regards

  53. You say you stumble upon a blog and “their grammar, vocabulary, and sentence structure make them sound uneducated.”

    I have no problem seeing the errors in other people’s writing, but I can’t recognize those same mistakes in my writing. Maybe it’s because I’m reading myself, the way I sound.

    How do I find the errors in my own writing? Should I have other people edit it for me since I’m unable to see it for myself?

  54. You should have an Amazon Associate’s link to On Writing in this blog! With all these people (including me) ordering it, you’d have earned a little extra “pocket change!”

  55. You know, I have to admit I’ve never read a Stephen King novel. Shame on me. But there’s no denying his prestige and accomplishments. As I’m becoming more and more of a blogger in my real estate investment sphere, I might actually have to go pick up this book. I used to really enjoy creative writing — this might be just the thing I need. Thanks for the post.

  56. Jon, you’re article echoed several concepts I uncovered during my first few months of blogging. Stand proud and stop being intimidated about writing. Whether you’re brand new or a seasoned veteran, the seemingly ordinary words we use everyday are capable of producing incredible ideas that can set the world on fire.

    You touched on so many great points, there’s one more concept that needs to be shared and that is follow through.

    I’ve spent the last several months meticulously studying, analyzing, researching everything I can about being a successful blogger. I’m writing like the Energizer Bunny. I’m well aware that at some point, I’ll have to face my fear and hand my words over to my reader, but I’m confident that I’ll survive because of this article.

    You’ve encouraged me yet again Jon. This time with 3,408 words 😀 Gotta run to finish placing my Amazon order for Stephen’s book.

  57. Nice post, again its only you Jon who can make someone like me read such a long post.

    I dont have any object on how you used quotes or Photo but “With a Creative Commons license, you keep your copyright but allow people to copy and distribute your work provided they give you credit”

    http://creativecommons.org/choose/

  58. I have always been interested in blogging, but never dared to step out and try it, mostly because English is not my first language.

    But your writing and your inspiring posts made me fall in love with writing again and actually gave me the courage I needed to start a blog and just do what I really love.

    Thank you Jon, you’re the best.

  59. Rodney C. Davis

    I can’t resist commenting a little further on Alistair’s take and Jon’s response. It’s an important issue. Alistair, like many people in the traditional publishing world, feels that what King offers in this book is “scaled-down pedagogy,” mainly because it is short on mechanics. Stephen King is no slouch on mechanics, and I actually find his “tool-box” analogy offers many insights not covered by others, like Strunk’s classic. When I want mechanics I can look up any college manual, like Diana Hacker’s “Writer’s Reference.”

    King isn’t even attempting to be exhaustive. In fact, he says quite clearly that his intention was to offer us something far more valuable that the crap we get in so many books on writing… insights on both the art AND the psychological challenges that they usually don’t deliver. The “top shelf” of his tool box is for beginners, and King refers to the importance of mechanics that you can get elsewhere. Yet he emphasizes that grammar, vocabulary and other fundamentals simply CANNOT be ignored by any serious writer. The fact that he only goes slightly further in pointing that out, isn’t scaled down pedagogy. It’s being precise about the intended scope of “On Writing.”

    Here’s the deal-breaker: Print media and other traditional forms of publishing are under duress because of environmental concerns as well as information technology. If Alistair sees blogging and/or marketing prose and copywriting as something to scoff at, I have to respect her view even while pointing out the following: I’m still very fond of the encyclopedias at the bottom of my bookshelf, but I haven’t opened them in years. My grandchildren probably won’t ever see the inside of one. Koontz is a classic example of a writer who has embraced the technology, and stayed grounded in the fundamentals that Alistair totes. Take a look at how similar his career path is to Stephen King! I’d wager he won’t be as dense as to scoff at the passion and style that online writers and marketers are bringing to the literary world.

  60. Rodney C. Davis

    Hey Jon and Andy, King’s problem with adverbs wasn’t in their use in general. He just has a pet peeve about using them in lieu of rich, descriptive context that can do a better job. His view is that over-usage of adverbs belies a writer’s neglect to offer color. He only prefers “He closed the door.” over “He closed the door firmly.” because the writer using the first example is more likely to use colorful context around the sentence to bring more meaning to the nuance that the adverb in the second example is (inadequately) trying to communicate. He sees the adverb as a writer’s enemy because it is a short-cut past the writer’s holy grail…the reader’s enchantment!

    One last thing on mechanics. King agrees with Strunk’s opinion that if you’re an adult writer and don’t yet know the basics, “its too late.” And by that I think he means you probably won’t even qualify as a competent writer. I’m not sure I totally agree with him on that one, but from this you get another sense of why he didn’t cover basics in his book.

  61. Jon you have channelled the spirit of Stephen King into this post!

    I totally agree about the reading part and with what Derek says too in his comment. My Mum used to say “Books are friends” and that has stayed with me all my life.

    I sometimes play an imaginary game where I am on a desert island with nothing but the clothes I stand up in. I am allowed to bring five or ten things one by one in order of importance (not counting family and friends. Books are always right up there in my top five, I couldn’t live without them.

    Writers get inspired by words. Your words (and Stephen’s) have really inspired me today so thank you for that.

  62. Thanks, Jon for this timely post for sometimes we need reminders and a little nudge to get going with reading and writing.

    It’s an open secret every writer must be a reader. This principle is applicable to any profession in life.

    Kobe spends hours informing himself about Basketball and great Basketball players but he spends many more hours perfecting his craft by practicing it.

    I’m will purchase “On Writing” for my Kindle Fire.

    Blessings Jon!

  63. Great piece, Jon! Thank you for helping me make the intellectual and practical jump from my favorite book about the craft, On Writing, to what I do and who I am.

    Onward and Upward!

    Guy

  64. Awesome post Jon. Another quote I like from On Writing is on p. 204, “If there is any one thing I love about writing more than the rest, it’s that sudden flash of insight when you see how everything connects.”

    This is true for a single blog post but also for an entire blog. The ability to connect one idea to another via a hyperlink is pretty cool!

  65. Excellent post. I knew it was good when I received it so I just saved it until I had time to read the whole thing. I love that to be a good writer I have to write, write, write and read, read, read. Two things I love to do. Thanks for taking the time to share this with everyone. I’ll have to get the book.

  66. Great post Jon, I am off to get the Kindle version immediately. I read through your post twice which is pretty amazing for me… I am one of those people who love reading, but I do tend to speed read or skim through stuff. I found that I needed to re-read your post so that I could grasp every concept properly, these tips are not rocket science (I say that in the nicest way),they really are common sense in most instances. I tend to think that most people just need to go back to basics and keep it simple. Thanks for sharing this, can’t wait to get reading On Writing.

  67. Thanks for this post Jon! As a more geek-ish writer, it never would have occurred to me that On Writing would be a good place to go for advice on it. It’s now made my summer reading list…thanks!

  68. Thank you Jon for this great piece of an article about some inspiring thoughts from one of the writing-masters of today. I also loved your inspiring (!) thoughts about how to adapt this ideas for our own blog.

    And also thanks for this great humor: “If not, I’ll come down there and knock the hell out of ya.” – Awesome!

    The article is great for motivation and I am sure I will read it again in some weeks.

    I will follow your articles, best to you,thanks

  69. “If you’re not getting any hate mail, it’s not because you’re the world’s most lovable writer. It’s because you lack the conviction to say anything of substance.”

    I just received a hate later a couple of weeks ago. This is making me reevaluate how I feel about it.

  70. This is such an excellent post. I always “write like no one is reading” then go back and revise 10 million times until I feel like if everyone read I would be okay with that. But I know I need to take more risks and this post reminded me of that and the fact that I need to read Stephen King’s book.

  71. What a helpful post. Why do I still feel slightly discouraged, however, at all the wanna-be writers out there? I am but an ant on a hill here, lol. I ordered King’s book a few days ago and look forward to reading it.

  72. I copied a few sentences from this article, but this one is my favorite:

    “The mistake most bloggers make, of course, is never trying anything new at all. They do whatever their English teachers told them is “right.”

    And that’s just sad.”

    And this is the quote I needed to hear today:

    “Social media is supposed to be an echo of your real life, not the other way around. Never forget that.”

    I’m new at combining social media with what I write, and have been desperately trying to climb out of twitter’s belly. As soon as I post this comment, I’m disconnecting. Thanks!

  73. What a great thrill to discover your blog with this post. King’s book is one of my all-time favorite books about writing,too. Great post and highly inspirational for writers of all genres,

  74. Jon, I am learning a lot from this blog post and have read Stephen King’s On Writing twice; now going through for the third time. I was delighted to discover that book. Couldn’t wait to get my hands on it, as I always did think he had more to him than we were seeing up to that point. That’s right, horror isn’t really my topic of choice. So I have only read Rose Madder, The Shawshank Redemption, The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, and Dome. Just from those 4, I knew Mr. King had much more to say than any of us realized, and am so glad he chose to say it on this book, On Writing. Truly a keeper, isn;t it!!

  75. Although I have always been amazed by Stephen King’s work, he always seems to be on some kind of “drug” that none of the rest of us has access to. Thanks for making his tips more accessible to us mere mortals.

  76. I have not read King since he terrfied me into an all night reading binge when I read “Christine”… it is obvious the man can talk me into believing anything! Do you know how many pages are in that book! I believe the copy I had was over 500 pages! OK, and though I know most of you are familiar w/King’s books, it’s about a car…a red convertible, a killer red convertible. I’m not good a suspending disbelief, but King had me in the first few pages. I felt that car, I felt it breathe, I felt it’s anger, I felt it’s need to kill. I felt the fear people had of it. Yes, Christine may have ruined my reading of S. King… but there comes a time to revisit things and see if they can still make you jump whenever you see headlights coming toward you!

  77. Melanie Wilson

    Question: how can I get rid of the social media box on the left that covers up a sizable portion of the article? I thought I had to share it to see it (which I hate by the way), but even after I shared it, the article is still obstructed. I am having this problem with numerous sites now. I’m on Chrome. Is that the problem? Any help would be appreciated.

  78. I’m just jumping in the deep end with my freelance writing, and this post inspired me and scared the crap out of me at the same time.

    The scary part: Am I driven enough? Am I passionate enough? Can I do it? Am I just a poser, or am I a “real” writer?

    The inspiring part: It’s really all about putting in the time and the work (and I KNOW I can do that). And I also know I’m at least competent. It’s nice to know I don’t have to put pressure on myself to be “great” right off the bat (or, really, ever) to make my writing worth pursuing. That might sound limiting to others, but to me it is freeing.

    Many gems here. Thanks, Jon!

  79. You’ve got a typo: “Gor more of his writing…”

    I think these are great tips and I’ve been wanting to read On Writing for a while. I just don’t know if writing is for me — this may be because I let it fall by the wayside in college and beyond. Unrelatedly, I don’t feel like blogging as it is now (a self- or general-marketing tactic, or just plain online journaling) is as much an art as you say. Yes, many people have a purpose to their blog, but at a glance, to me that’s the minority of the blogging community. The rest have no idea how to use it as a creative platform.

  80. Undeniably believe that which you stated. Your favorite justification seemed to be on the internet the simplest thing to be aware of. I say to you, I definitely get annoyed while people think about worries that they just do not know about. You managed to hit the nail upon the top as well as defined out the whole thing without having side-effects , people could take a signal. Will probably be back to get more. Thanks

  81. Great post that I’ll be coming back to repeatedly. The phrase that really stuck out to me is “The reason most bloggers fail isn’t a lack of talent or smarts or technical know-how. It’s a refusal to take what they do seriously. They don’t believe their blog can be anything, so they never put in the work to make it anything.” As a new blogger, I find myself teetering between giving my blog just enough attention to keep it going, on the one hand, and actually investing the time and energy into it, taking it seriously enough to expect results, on the other hand. Taking yourself seriously can be a risky venture, because what if no one else ever does? Still, nothing ventured, nothing gained!

  82. Thanks for a great post Jon.

    I started reading it when you first published it then decided to read King’s book and come back to your post. Loved the book, thanks for bringing it to my attention.

    I’m aspiring to become a competent writer so that I can become a merely good one with lots of practice!

  83. Thank you, Jon for talking about this book. After reading your article, I bought it and devoured it.

    I can’t say I’ve ever been a big fan of Stephen King’s novels, although I’ve read a few. This book, though, I’ll be reading again and again.

    “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.”

    Well, I read a lot – usually about 4 books a week. And I’m starting to write more – have one small book up on Kindle, and working on becoming a better writer with my blog posts.

    Thanks again.

  84. I’m in the process of reworking a very amateurish blog into something professional, and slowly working through the Guest Blogging course so this post is very relevant to me. My background is that I’ve always been a prolific reader, but most of my writing was technical – proposals, reports, presentations – so I’m working on getting more conversational. I love Pressfield’s work on writing, too, and now I’m off to get King’s book. Thanks, Jon.

    1. Hi Wes,

      Since you tell that you are about to upgrade your blog I wanted to point you to a resource that I believe can help a lot. Check Michael Hyatt’s blog at http://www.michaelhyatt.com (no affiliate – just a great resource) for his advice on blogging, writing about pages etc.
      It’s another great resource.

  85. I’m new to the blogging world, but have always been an avid writer and reader. Thank you for this post! It is very insightful and helpful, and I’m going to be taking many of these tips to my own blog.
    I really think the best advice is to experience the rotten along with the incredible. It helps to recognize the strengths and weaknesses in your own writing so that you are conscious while you are typing away at those keys.

  86. I found myself writing down every second sentence, but then I just bookmarked this article.

    Truly an amazing article! It is one of the best articles that I have ever read about writing.

    Thanks!!!

  87. “On writing” has been on my wish list for a while.

    Thanks for sharing this post, Jon. It finally made me read the book. It’s great.

    I also love this quote:

    (…) the realization that stopping a piece of work just because it’s hard, either emotionally or imaginatively, is a bad idea. Sometimes you have to go on when you don’t feel like it, and sometimes you’re doing good work when it feels like all you’re managing is to shovel shit from a sitting position.

  88. Excellent and informative article! I’m motivated by such great understanding and advice, everyone has powerful stories to tell, it’s how they are told that makes or breaks. Thank you for the kick in the butt.

    Cheers,

    Mandy

  89. Jon, this was the post I needed to read to stay on track w/ my writing. I’ve had King’s book on my Kindle for months…time to actually read it!

  90. Excellent – I liked the idea about not coming to a blank page lightly – best.

    I have to write when I’m pissed off or ecstatic about something. Not sure is much in-between that makes me start hammering away at the keys. Usually I’m pissed off. It worked for “Thailand’s Sickest” quite well. Doing OK on the sequel too. Anger fuels the passionate writer!

  91. I am in the launching stage of my travel blog and the words in this post are like gold……I have no doubts after reading it that writing…..writing…..writing and reading…..reading….reading is the only way to get better at blogging. Thanks a lot Jon….loved it and also just bought On Writing

  92. I can’t even begin to express how this reference to “On Writing” is changing my life. I found the quotes here fascinating – especially since (while I enjoyed a couple of the movies based on his books), I’ve only read one of S.King’s books and never thought of reading another one. Not my style, I thought.

    Well, you could say that “On writing” is “not my style” either – it’s just THE best book on writing I’ve ever read and it’s THE only one that is DIRECTLY affecting my life, my choices, and, possibly, my future.

    I can’t thank you enough for having brought it to my attention!

  93. There is one new book that I would strongly recommend along with King’s and Pressfield’s. It’s by Joe Romm, and titled “Language Intelligence: Lessons on Persuasion from Jesus, Shakespeare, Lincoln and Lady Gaga.” And Bob Dylan, too. In it Romm explains the persuasive techniques of classic rhetoric as developed by the Greeks and used to great effect by writers and speakers for the last 2200 years. Unfortunately it’s not taught anymore, but Romm gives a great tutorial on the basics.

    As a logical engineer trained in science writing, it’s like getting slapped by a wet fish, but what a wake-up call! I want my writing to engage and convince, so I’m studying this book. You’ll want to, also.

  94. This is without a doubt the longest but also best collection of quote from one incredibly source I’ve come across!

    And as so often simplicity works best: You must Write a lot and Read a lot.

    Another quote I’ve found lately is just as simple and I see some connection there: “Being more interested makes you more interesting” – Tim Ferris

    This will be one of your evergreen posts – congrats!

  95. Stephen King is among the top writers I will read on a regular basis but he released a book on CD called “LT’s Theory on Pets” that made me realize that his writing is easy to read out loud.
    I believe that is part of great writing. Not good writing but great writing.
    The true test of reading any great writer’s work: you can visualize the author reading it to you.
    Great post by the way. Thank you.

  96. On Writing is one of my favorite King books and it was so uplifing. I love his stance on being a writer and after reading his book I no longer questioned whether I was good or not- he made me see that I am good- maybe not on his level yet but good. And that’s a great starting place.

  97. Many years ago I was introduced to the magical story telling of Stephen King. His ability to share the fascinating thoughts in his head has always been intriguing. He has been an integral inspiration in my pursuit to write. My challenge has always been finding the time with career challenges and family commitments and demands. It will become a priority in 2013.

  98. As a published horror writer myself and ardent Stephen King fan, I found this advice to be highly interesting and useful.

    I would be very interested in hearing from any horror bloggers. Perhaps we could exchange postings and links etc.

  99. This is impressive and very encouraging, for long i have been aiming at having my own write up really but just don’t know how to go about it. Must say this a beautiful one indeed. Thanks so much

  100. I am in love with On Writing by Stephen King. It’s the one book I’ve read of his but re-reading the quotes above make me want to read one of his novels even if it leaves me cringing in the corner with the lights blaring at night…for weeks!

  101. Very interesting article. I’m just about to embark on this journey for the first time, and your article is full of some great advice. I’ll definitely have to purchase “On Writing”!

  102. Fantastic insights and one of the best blog posts I’ve ever read. Thanks for taking the time to write it – very motiviating.

    Oh, and I’ll definitely pick up a copy of On Writing.

  103. Thank you so much, your article is very inspirational, I enjoyed a lot and it kicked me to finally start writing! Thank you again :*

  104. That gave me a boost of confidence 😀 I’m a writer and wasn’t sure about how good I was (not that I cared I am the person who says “Flame it? Fuck you! Hate it? Get over your self” so yah thanks! I feel really happy now!

  105. Wow, one of the best posts about writing ever! I’ve spent quite a while reading this. Not because it’s lengthy, but because it’s full of wisdom and raw truth about writing that put me to think about why and how should I write.

    Writing a novel is like sharing a dream. It’s that simple when you look at it, yet it’s so challenging when you do it.

  106. Mike Harrington

    Jon-

    Just discovered your work YESTERDAY. Where has my head been that I haven’t come across your corner of the internet yet?

    I’m a huge fan of purging the thoughts that are in your head and heart, even if they are riffing off existing bloggers’ content.

    Why? That’s the way forward. We’ve got to imitate, practice, scrap, re-work and keep digging until we pull the gems from our pile of dirt.

    Some days the process is downright rotten, and the resistance pushes you back so hard you can feel it in your chest.

    Other days, you sit down and do battle. Rain or shine, not based on some whim of “inspiration.” Those are the days that lead to genius and prolific creation that resonates with people. It creates connections.

    Here’s to continually re-wiring our brains by putting in the work.

    Every. Damn. Day.

  107. Incredible article, really fills one with drive. It amazes me that people still treat blogging as a shoe-in to success. Like any craft, dedication and hard work are the driving factors in accomplishing set goals. Thanks for the engaging read !

  108. I’m young and i want to write ,but i needed more inspiration and tips on how to write and this article just gave tips and inspired me.

  109. I would only add: if you enjoy reading the book, get the audiobook read by King, himself. It is astounding. Listen to it again and again. It is so inspiring and breathes true to any artist who seeks truth.

  110. Nice Website. You should think more about RSS Feeds as a traffic source. They bring me a nice bit of traffic.

  111. I am writing a horror novel. What i can say is write every day more then 1000 words. If you are timing your words then your not really into the world of writing for passion. You should write what you love! The best thing I got out of this is read and write and if you did not know that by now and this article raised an epiphany that is sad. That means you cant be a real writer if you just read these blogs and finally it motivates you! Find another passion. I write regardless of what anyone says. I write to write and for the love of what I believe would be interesting to others as well as what interests me.

  112. Thank you for the kick in the ass! One of my great sins as a blogger is not leaving comments. The truth is, I just don’t think of it. Your article rocked and I had to respond. I’ve been feeling frustrated with my writing. So much so, I’ve been neglecting it. Six months ago I didn’t know what the hell twitter was and now I can’t stop checking my damn account! I’m starting to see that my writer’s block is the result of forgetting why I started in the first place.

    As I said-Thanks for the kick in the ass.

  113. Jon, your SBO book list is the best. Every one is inspiring and useful. Just finished _On Writing_ and it has made me so happy. Throughout, I kept jumping for joy because he was giving me permission to do what I’d been kinda thinking of doing. Over and over. Then I get to the last couple lines at the end of the postscript in which he says that the best part of the book was a permission slip. Truly life-changing indeed.

  114. Excellent post. I rarely read any post till the end (crusify me ;-), but this one kept me going.
    Will seriously reconsider reading the book, you’ve convinced me.

    It must have been the paragraph spacing.

  115. I really need to paste some of these on my wall. I think I need to take another stab at the book, specially to remember that it’s ok to approach my writing as an experiment, and to see that there are no real errors, just a lot of experience to be gained.

    Thanks Jon! Epic article as always.

    1. Jon,

      I just drop by to reread the post and let you know that I finally started reading/ listening to King’s On Writing.

      To be honest, this is the first time I’ve ever read his work. Surprise would be an understatement, I was astonished by his mind and insights. Just a few pages in and I can tell this is one of the best books I’ve ever read.

      Thanks for sharing!

      Take care,
      Anh

  116. Jon,

    Wow, I can tell immediately how you love Stephen King’s On Writing to dedicate such a long blog post to it. I learnt a lot from your post alone and have put On Writing on my reading list to start once I finish my current book (The Antidote by Oliver Burkeman).

    King’s view on how writing is some sort of telepathy is moving to me. I am still looking for what there is to being a blogger beyond the scope of writing guides or reviews. In the end, maybe it’s more about a connection with your readers than anything else.

    I had an awesome read, thanks for sharing!

    Cheers,
    Anh

  117. Thank you for re-posting an evergreen message. Stephen King is one of the literary masters out there. He isn’t just good at scaring you (or grossing you out) but he’s actually just a good writer, period. Great job of weaving in his quotes from On Writing to inspire and reinforce your message.

  118. Jon, has this post gone on the writing subreddit?
    No? Or probably has over and over again.
    And, oops, I did it again!
    Thanks a lot.

  119. Very inspiring post Jon, thank you. I read this book years ago and forgot about it until now. I’m going to take it off the shelf and read it again now! “On Writing” and “Bird by Bird” are my two favorite books about writing. Oh, and “Writing Down the Bones”. Looks like I have the rest of my summer reading cut out for me!

    1. These are my three favorite books about writing, too, Mary Ann. Don’t you wish we could grind up the words, put them in a smoothie and have them become part of our DNA?

  120. Keri Vandongen

    Thanks Jon for your guidance writing a popular blog. I’m learning and listening. This is difficult for many writers. The advice in your quote is Profound… “Our job as bloggers isn’t so much saying what we think as putting what our readers think into words, describing it with such clarity and intimacy they suspect us of reading their minds.” When we can do this- we’ve become immersed in our readers’ ‘reality bubble’. ~Keri

  121. Hi, Jon!
    I love the style of this post—the way you feature your favorite quotes and then comment on them as though we are having coffee and talking about writing.

    I was a fan of Stephen King’s for years until I read The Tommyknockers. It was a mess, and I decided to quit reading his work until I found On Writing while browsing in a bookstore. I scanned it and found the part where he describes how his downward spiral from drugs and alcohol inspired The Tommyknockers. I couldn’t believe that I intuitively knew his writing so well that I broke away when he lost himself. I had to buy On Writing and read how he came back from the dead book pile.

    I am rereading On Writing again thanks to your post. Here’s one of my favorite quotes, “You cannot hope to sweep someone else away by the force of your writing until it has been done to you.” You do that with your work, Jon. Thank you.

  122. I read “on writing” a long while ago – you’ve just reminded me how wonderful it was… and how I really have to dig it out immediately and read it again.

    Thank you for the motivation. Natalie

  123. I bought “On Writing” a couple of years ago and it’s been gathering dust on a bookshelf this whole time. This reminded me that I need to get to reading it already. Thanks for sharing these little selections. Quite inspiring!

  124. When I was much younger, I tried to write…. there were some things in it that were good but basically it feel flat.

    Many life experiences later, I found myself writing for the joy of it, or just that need to voice something bottled up inside. I even do “Notepad Notes” – something quickly written, no edits. I feel they are inspiring & even moving.

    I don’t call myself a writer, but I do enjoy writing and really think I’m good at touching upon emotion in what I create.

  125. This is an old post, but am just reading it for the first time. They are just wonderful quotes from SK. Thanks for using these to inspire and challenge others.

  126. Thanks for sharing this with us. It was a tremendous read. I have always loved Stephen King and admired his long term success. It is interesting to consider him as just a guy who loves to write. Seeing him that way makes it more conceivable that I might also be able to sit down and write something that someone else might find interesting. If anything, this article was incredibly inspirational. Thanks again.

  127. Nice post. I’ve been in love with this book ever since I first picked it up. I had the pleasure of seeing Mr. King speak in Tulsa, Oklahoma on his latest book tour, and it was a wonderful experience. I followed it up with a blog post on my website, too! We managed to get our hands on a signed copy of End of Watch!

  128. God I love Stephen King. I mean here you have someone who just really loves writing ( as much I love reading). From reading his books, watching his movies (huge Tales From The Crypt Fan here) it’s s so interesting that his work immediately takes me back to my childhood, spending time with my family, when we’d watch his movies. A fan forever.

  129. Hey Jon,

    Thanks for this post. I’ve had “On Writing” sitting on my to-do list for ages.

    As it seems, I’m sitting here watery eyed after getting through half of your post. I think it’s high time I get around to finishing Steve’s book.

    Lifting my hat to you as always for great content.

  130. This is truly inspiring especially to those who are trying to look for motivation and encouragement right now. I am also compelled to read the book On Writing, sounds quite interesting to read Stephen King as Stephen King.
    Thank you for sharing!

  131. Hi Jon,
    It’s such a wonderful post and thanks for it. Two years back I was thinking of starting my career as a Writer. Still haven’t decided on it. Humor is something I have always enjoyed reading. Am I one of those people who enjoy it or people in general like that so that I can use them without any hesitation in my writing.

  132. Interesting. I’ve not read this book but adding it to my list as we really need to work on developing our blog. One thing that really sticks out here is his “why”. He didn’t do it purely for the money. He found real joy in writing. I find this critical to any real long term success. My focus is on helping grow my client’s business. That gives me great satisfaction and is what really drives me. Thanks for the book reference.

  133. Thanks for a great post Jon.

    I’m aspiring to become a competent writer so that I can become a merely good one with lots of practice!

  134. Great great post..It will really inspire people to write and write with some solid reason. I specially liked the line when he says that you can write for any reason but do it seriously. Writing is a serious business

  135. Love the part about writing everyday and reading everyday. Those two things are often overlooked. Thanks for sharing Jon! I’ll add Stephen’s book to my list.

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