Ten Minutes with Stephen King

Stephen King - July 22, 2004 (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Stephen King – July 22, 2004 (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

I never thought I’d ever read a book by Stephen King. I’m not into horror, and generally steer well clear of it.
But a couple of days ago, I finished reading a book of an entirely different sort — On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, by Stephen King. It isn’t so much a writer’s manual, as a memoir of his writing journey. His actual instruction on writing is delivered in an entertaining, easy-to-take story format.

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

I used to be a bookworm. I even won first place in my class in Gr. 4, for reading more pages than anyone else. When our kids joined the public library in 1993, I would read all eighty-plus books they borrowed every three weeks. In more recent years, reading has become a real challenge, putting me to sleep every time I sat down to it.

But any writer worth his salt is a reader. Everyone knows that. Right?

It hasn’t been easy, but I’ve slowly come back to the place where I am reading for an hour or so almost every day. This year I joined the Goodreads Reading Challenge, committing to reading forty books this year. So far I’ve read twenty-two.

Reading Stephen King’s book reminded me of an essay I read in my own copy of the 1992 edition of The Writer’s Handbook, edited by Sylvia K. Burack.

You can read the full article here at Aerogramme Writers’ Studio.

Here is Stephen’s list in a nutshell…

Everything You Need to Know About Writing Successfully

1. Be talented
2. Be neat
3. Be self-critical
4. Remove every extraneous word
5. Never look at a reference book while doing a first draft
6. Know the markets
7. Write to entertain
8. Ask yourself frequently, “Am I having fun?”
9. How to evaluate criticism
10. Observe all rules for proper submission
11. An agent? Forget it. For now
12 If it’s bad, kill it

© Willena Flewelling


  1. Great post – I used to be a great reader… loved it but I’m in the ‘falling asleep whenever I read’ stage and have been for at least 7 years! I’d love to know how you overcame that, how you retrained yourself. What did you do to stay awake?
    Helen recently posted…Telling myself I’m going to failMy Profile

    • Helen, I wish I had a magic key to give you, but I don’t. I started reading easy novels that didn’t take much to get into, and then I was okay. Now I can read fiction or nonfiction without falling asleep. At least, not right away. It’s still a challenge, but I’m a lot better than I was, and I’m reading pretty well every day.
      Willena Flewelling recently posted…Under His WingsMy Profile

  2. Hello Willena

    I have read some of his books… He is a very clever writer that’s for sure, Not to everyone’s taste’s that’s for sure. What is interesting is the way he writes and how long he takes to write.. He can spend a year or two writing a good.. long book… well worth the read. Writing is such a key skill that it surprises me more and more people do not go down this route especially from school.

    WILLIAM O’TOOLE recently posted…Meet Robert Hollis – Multi MillionaireMy Profile

    • I still haven’t read any of his books except On Writing. I’m going to, though. I’ve put a couple of books on hold at the library.

      The funny thing is, not one of my school teachers ever told me I could write! It just never showed up except when I wrote in my journal in private. And among our 7 children, some are excellent writers, while others flounder. Everyone is different.
      Willena Flewelling recently posted…Birds of My AcquaintanceMy Profile

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