You already have it in you, dear reader

17 Mar

If you’re gonna read a writing book, it might as well be Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft.

This is not a field guide for entering the writers’ complex world, or an encyclopedia of smart-ass techniques. If there’s a catchphrase that would define it best, my pick would be “you already have it in you, dear reader.”

Let me explain why.

The book is structured in two parts. The first half is pretty much an autobiography, just what the title promises. It’s a story of King’s life and how his writing evolved, based on his experiences. A great way to show that you are what you write and the other way around.

While seeing how King grew from a teenager writing crappy (sort of…) stories to a record-breaking author is inspiring, what really struck me was the second half of the book, concerning technique.

‘But wait, you said this wasn’t a book about technique!’ I hear the crowds roar.

It isn’t. The advice King gives is so basic, so fundamental and simple, I would hardly call it ‘technique’. What makes it so hard-hitting is precisely the simplicity. Writing isn’t supposed to be hard, it is just a matter of putting all your heart and skill into learning how to do it properly. Yes, it may take a long time, but work pays off.

And that’s where the “you already have it in you, dear reader” kicks in: if you’re willing to put in the work, you can do it.

I’ve read this book about 2.5 years ago, so I’ll stop here since I don’t feel I can give it enough credit from memory. This post intends to do just one simple thing – convince you to read it. You should, if only for the most basic writing advice I’ve ever encountered: if you’re a writer (a professional writer that is) you should write 4 hours a day and read 4 hours more.

You see, it’s real work.

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