This Powerful Piece Of Advice Will Transform Your Writing

Stephen King

Stephen King

“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… but you must not come lightly to the blank page.” – Stephen King, On Writing

What writing lessons can Stephen King teach us?

You’d think after many years studying King’s fiction and career I’d be well placed to answer. But as I chased round my mind for a list I could share with you here, it finally dawned on me that all other lessons disintegrate, like so many vampires caught out by the morning sun, when compared with the one key lesson I’ve learned and continue to practice daily.

He taught me to write without fear.

You may find it a little strange that, in my search for a teacher of fearless writing, I would turn to an author renowned for manifesting a state of abject terror in his readers. A teacher of fearful writing, perhaps, but not fearless. However, during the last three and a half years that I have spent researching King (reading articles, tracking down old interviews, transcribing archived documents), I’ve been struck time and time again, by his bravery, by his willingness to tackle new challenges and by his approach to writing, often from new and frequently surprising directions.

For example:

  • He has refused to stay true to his typecast, and has frequently published work which doesn’t belong to the genre he became famous for.
  • He stands up to the literary establishment and demands that his writing is taken seriously.
  • He experiments with new media.
  • He will try his hand at just about any kind of fiction: short stories, serial novels, comic books, screenplays, e-novels.
  • He offers his work up to others for their own creative interpretation.

Writing can be a scary business. Turning up to the page day after day trying to produce something of value, something worthy of both yours and your reader’s attention is often intimidating, sometimes almost crippling. In my own writing I try and choose my words as fearlessly as I can. My touchstones are authenticity, playfulness and audacity, and by keeping these three key words at the forefront of my mind when sitting down to write, I find that I am capable of overcoming my fear of the blank page.

I’d like to finish up with a quote from King’s introduction to the revised edition of The Dark Tower I: The Gunslinger. Whilst aimed at young writers who are just starting out, I believe that it can apply to writers both young and old; it applies to all those looking to write fearlessly.

“At nineteen they can card you in the bars and tell you to get the fuck out, put your sorry act (and even sorrier ass) back on the street, but they can’t card you when you sit down to paint a picture, write a poem, or tell a story, by God, and if you reading this happen to be very young, don’t let your elders and supposed betters tell you any different. Sure, you’ve never been to Paris. No, you never ran with the bulls at Pamplona. Yes, you’re a pissant who had no hair in your armpits until three years ago – but so what? If you don’t start out too big for your britches, how are you gonna fill ’em when you grow up? Let it rip regardless of what anybody tells you, that’s my idea; sit down and smoke that baby.”

So, how about you? Do you consciously try to write without fear? How would you advise another writer to overcome their fear of putting pen to paper? What lessons have you learned about writing from King, or indeed another favourite author?

“I work until beer o’clock.” – Stephen King, on his 9-to-5 workday

RECENT POSTS

How to Build a Summer Writing Routine in 4 Simple Steps

When the weather turns warmer and the days get longer, many of us start to daydream about the possibility of making serious progress on our writing projects. Whether you have some time away from work or study, or simply make use of the extra daylight to extend your...

Is It Too Late to Start Writing?

Perhaps you’ve always wanted to be a writer but haven’t made it happen yet.  There are so many reasons why you might not have made the leap from aspiring to write to actually starting to do it yet. Maybe you doubt whether you’re good enough. Maybe writing has...

Why Is Writing So Hard? (And What to Do About It)

Do you ever find yourself asking why is writing so hard? When people picture the working process of a writer, they often picture a carefree, fun, and creative situation.  Perhaps that's how you imagined being a writer would be. Often, our earliest experiences...

Rising Action in a Story (Or, Why Your WIP Might Suck)

Have you ever told somebody that you started a book but you just couldn't get into it? Have you ever picked up a book and struggled through the first page, the first chapter, even the first half, only to stop reading entirely? You may even have a bookshelf dedicated...

JOIN OVER 2 MILLION READERS

WANT YOUR NEXT BOOK TO BE A BESTSELLER?

Then you need KDP Rocket – the killer advantage of pro authors.

Related Posts

How to Build a Summer Writing Routine in 4 Simple Steps

How to Build a Summer Writing Routine in 4 Simple Steps

When the weather turns warmer and the days get longer, many of us start to daydream about the possibility of making serious progress on our writing projects. Whether you have some time away from work or study, or simply make use of the extra daylight to extend your...

About The Author

Amy Palko

Amy Palko is the blogger behind ofLives Less Ordinary and Textual Tangents. Amy is writing her thesis paper on Stephen King.

Latest Posts

Is It Too Late to Start Writing?

Is It Too Late to Start Writing?

Perhaps you’ve always wanted to be a writer but haven’t made it happen yet.  There are so many reasons why you might not have made the leap from aspiring to write to actually starting to do it yet. Maybe you doubt whether you’re good enough. Maybe writing has...

Why Is Writing So Hard? (And What to Do About It)

Why Is Writing So Hard? (And What to Do About It)

Do you ever find yourself asking why is writing so hard? When people picture the working process of a writer, they often picture a carefree, fun, and creative situation.  Perhaps that's how you imagined being a writer would be. Often, our earliest experiences...

What Is the Climax of a Story?

What Is the Climax of a Story?

Have you ever noticed that once you get about three-quarters into a book, you have to finish it?  That’s because you’ve likely run into the climax. And when the climax of a book is good, it becomes impossible to put down. Learning to write a compelling climax...

28 Figure Of Speech Examples

28 Figure Of Speech Examples

Storytelling is a different kind of writing. Often, voice trumps grammar. Of course, your writing needs to be easily understood by the reader, but it’s crucial that the voice of your writing is strong.  Whether you write fiction or nonfiction, both genres employ...

How to Get Ideas for Writing (15 Simple Tips)

How to Get Ideas for Writing (15 Simple Tips)

Do you want to learn how to find topics to write about? Do you ever sit down to write a blog post, article or chapter,  and nothing, but nothing appears in your mind? This is the dreaded writer's block. The good news is that if you use the following 15 tips, you...

>