"On Writing" is a well crafted book that, despite the roundabout nature of the telling, draws you into the yarn of King's experiences as a writer as if he was holding a lecture and trying to talk to you as a friend rather than as a customer.


"On Writing" can be a little time consuming, and not everyone will agree with what they find inside. All writers are different, but even the most contrary should find something they can agree with.

Full Review

It's only natural once you reach a certain point in your career as a writer that people think you know some secret that others who have strived so long and hard have somehow missed in their own literary soul-searching. That point is usually measured in book sale amounts and in monetary figures, which means that any day now Stephanie Meyer may be conned into writing her own "Secrets to Writing" book (which may be a sign from another famous book, discussing rains of fire and plagues of locusts). Stephen King's book on the subject, "On Writing" may not contain any great secrets for the hungry masses wanting to claw onto the New York Times' Bestseller List, but it does have a lot of helpful advice for people who haven't been writing very long.

Simple and to-the-point, but told with King's usual flair for plain language, "On Writing" lays out several, basic truths that all writers should know before ever putting a pen to paper. Number one is dispelling the myth that writers are born and not made. It takes work for all writers, no matter how naturally inclined or talented, to really hone their craft. Additionally, King points out that only lazy artists will fall back on the excuse that they're artists for not being able to produce or create on command. Real writers, according to King, will set aside time during their days to work like any other sort of craftsman. King points out that writers have to be self-motivated, and driven to share their stories with the world if they want to be successful.

Stephen King continues, with his usual, small-town charm to punctuate all of the lessons he's learned throughout his career with examples from his own life. He details how ideas can follow you around for years before they come to fruition, and how writers can have success both by planning out their stories in minute detail as well as by writing them as they come. King also puts to rest the myth that writers need to indulge in strong drink or drugs to be successful or famous, laying out that he was able to write both before, during, and after his love affair with alcohol and cocaine.

One part manual of guidance and one part biographical journey, "On Writing" has something for every writer, fresh boots and veterans alike. While Stephen King fans will likely enjoy the writing (if you can find the audio version read by King then it's sure to add to the experience), even those who don't care for his work might find some helpful points and merits from the English teacher turned blockbuster novelist. After all, if you do something long enough you're likely to pick up on some important craft skills.

In Closing

If you had to pick one book to learn how to write from, whether your area of expertise is academic essays, short fiction or romance novels, "On Writing" will prove to be a valuable guide for all storywrights.