How to Write Like a King

Misery Loves CompanyMaybe it’s the coffee, but this morning I am thinking about my apparent similarities to Stephen King.

You know King, right? He’s sort of a creepy gent with the face of a coffee table and the souls of a dozen murdered unicorns in a jar on his desk. Oh yeah, and he writes.

Mr. King usually writes horror novels, a fact you might not be aware of if you happen to live on Pluto, which is no longer a planet. Even people on Uranus (tee hee) know that King writes horror. Sitting in my bathroom is a book of his called On Writing; guess what it’s about.

A quick peruse on will show you how big the market is for the ‘how to write’ book. How to write a lot (one would think this activity somewhat self-explanatory), How to Write Great Blog Posts and Engage Readers (Hm, maybe…), and How to Write a Nonfiction e-book in 21 Days (first sentence: First, write a nonfiction e-book in 21 days, then…).

Blah Blah Blah.

I don’t go in for these books about writing. I think you should sit your fat ass down and crank out X amount of words X times a week and read a lot. Furthermore, I think that in many cases people who read these books are more interested in reading about how to write a novel, rather than actually writing the damn thing.

So does King.  

I am not the world’s largest Stephen King fan. I have stopped a King book halfway through and groaned at endings. On the other hand, I spent the night before a Physical Anthropology exam reading the 690 page entirety of Needful Things. Whatever my thoughts on his writing, I have always admired King’s no-nonsense approach to writing, which is largely the same as mine. Don’t read about writing, don’t talk about writing, just read and write. All the time. Essentially: Just Do It!

So how is it that he wrote a book on writing and I have his book on writing?

Well in his defense, I am sure it’s hard not to write a book when a publisher throws a zillion dollars at you and pleads for your inclusion. In my defense, I was given the book and I did put it in my bathroom (toilet), which exhibits my uncertainty about owning a ‘how to’ writing book while keeping it in the room of honor. I flip through it from time to time – two times a day, three times a day on Saturday – and despite my dislike of these books I am finding some gems in its pages.

King brings his same no-nonsense approach to this book as I have always heard him propagate. And making the experience more interesting is that – in my current project – I am already doing a lot of what he advises in terms of finding your story and writing. He says that the book is the boss of your work; that you have to follow its lead, and you can’t force it somewhere else by artificial plotting.

Though I do plot my work with an outline, I have found that the book I am writing now has sort of taken me somewhere I didn’t plan on going. And a while ago I decided to just let it happen, to write this first draft like a drunken pianist, determined to see where it goes. To some degree this approach is made possible by constant trial and error, hard work, and (most importantly) hours and hours of writing.

I guess the point is that before the ‘how to’ books, plot devices, strategies, brainstorming tactics, and outlines, a writer has to write. If I wrote a ‘how to’ writing book, page 1 would read:

First, write 1,000 words a day for 6 months and if you haven’t blown your brains out, look at page 2.

  1. #1 by Kelly on September 17, 2013 - 5:01 am

    Writing is so hard! I hate it! Some famous writer said “Writers don’t like writing, they like to have written.” and I find that to be so true. So sometimes I get caught up in Barnes and Noble sifting through those “how to” books. As I write this in my living room, I am not three feet away from an Idiot’s guide To Writing A Novel, Blogging For Dummies and a Guide To Getting Published, but nothing has improved my writing so much as doing it every day. At any rate, I always look forward to yours. You must be doing something right.

    I don’t want to say write anymore for a while.

    • #2 by Damien Galeone on September 19, 2013 - 12:23 am

      Ha – I think that was Mark Twain who said that. And I agree that the best way is to just bang it out and write. And, in all honesty, I definitely enjoy your writing. You make me laugh, and that is something that not a lot of writers, people, or humans can accomplish. So please keep up the good work, K!

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