On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
First Edition Release Date: 2000
On Writing is both a textbook for writers and a memoir of Stephen’s life and will, thus, appeal even to those who are not aspiring writers. If you’ve always wondered what led Steve to become a writer and how he came to be the success he is today, this will answer those questions.
There are plenty of books on writing out there, mostly by writers you have never heard of and probably never will. Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft is an exception. I had read many rave reviews about this book, so I went and got myself the audio book version for the long train rides on my latest European vacation (but ended up listening to it everywhere I went and finished it in the first couple of days).
The verdict? Extraordinary. One of the best books about writing I’ve ever come across. 5 out of 5 stars!
Nevertheless, what started off as a short post about the book has turned into the full-blown thesis below, so I apologize in advance. The lengthy middle section on Part II though is useful for those who want an idea of what King’s views are in relation to the craft of writing.
The book is not a mechanical guide on how to be a better writer from a technical standpoint, though in the middle section King does discuss the fundamentals of the craft. Stylistically, it is similar to Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, in that it is a very personal book that discusses writing through the author’s personal stories, experiences and anecdotes, all told with good grace and humor. You don’t just learn about writing techniques in On Writing – you also get to learn a great deal about Stephen King, his family, the struggles he has endured, both pre-fame and post-fame, and what makes him tick as a popular horror novelist that has sold hundreds of millions of books worldwide.
There are essentially 3 parts to this book. Part I is all about King’s life, and is autobiographical in a sense. Part II is all about the craft of writing from King’s personal perspective. Part III talks about King’s life after his tragic car accident that almost ended his life and writing career. All 3 parts are equally instructive and compelling.