Stephen King’s plan for writers
If you want to read a great book on writing—a book that’ll really kick your butt, and then dust you off, pat you on the shoulder and send you on your writing journey—you need to read Stephen King’s On Writing. I’ve read it twice now, but I’m feeling the need to go back in and annotate it. In this post, I thought I’d share the biggest takeaway I got from the book. It’s the secret to being a writer. It’s obvious. You already know it. But, if you’re like me, you’re denying it . . . So, let me give it to you straight from Stephen King (and then we’ll both nod like children in the principal’s office and dutifully vow to follow his instructions).
How do you become a writer?
Here’s what Stephen King says,
If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.
I wasted 15 years wishing to write but never writing. I mean, I wrote, but I was never all-in. I was always thinking that someday I would learn the secret of writing. I put off writing my book until I could learn this secret.
But you know what I should have been doing?
WRITING THE BOOK!
I needed to start a writing habit. And, if you’re serious about improving, so do you.
What’s holding you back?
King goes on to recommend reading and writing for about 3–4 hours a day. That’s quite a huge commitment, isn’t it?
What’s holding you back from that goal?
If I had a nickel for every person who ever told me he/she wanted to become a writer but “didn’t have time to read,” I could buy myself a pretty good steak dinner. Can I be blunt on this subject? If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.
One thing that held me back from reading and writing a lot was video games. Can you relate? I told myself that I was doing “research.”
*Eye Roll . . . *
What is it for you? TV, Netflix, Social Media?
I’d like to suggest that turning off that endlessly quacking box is apt to improve the quality of your life as well as the quality of your writing.
King’s talking about TV here, but you and I both know a lot of meaningless quacking goes on in other places as well (and no, I was not actually referring to Twitter puns here, but thanks for that.).
Where do you start?
Well, that’s the thing with obvious secrets like this one. We listen, we sit back, we scratch our chins, and we say, “Hmmm. . . how is that done? How does one go about . . . doing that?”
This is not one of those contemplative times.
Get out some paper. Go get a book. Sit down. Read.
Simple as that.
Got an urge to watch a show? Read instead. New app notifying you? Turn it off (or delete it) and read.
If you want to improve, you need to be putting the time into improving. Stop observing and start acting.
What excuses plague you?
If you’re like me, you hear voices (no, not those kinds of voices—I’m talking inner monologue here). You hear things like, “Your writing is not good enough,” or “Your grammar sucks,” or “No one will read this.”
What excuses do you hear? Write them in the comments.