This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
Sarah Painter is a writer and a columnist for Novelicious, giving writers fantastic advice in the 'Write your novel' series. Her first novel, The Language of Spells, was released in May of 2013 with its sequel, The Secrets of Ghosts, set to be released this week. Sarah has picked Stephen King's On Writing, as the book that changed her life. Here, she tells us why.
Like most writers, I've been a voracious reader for as long as I can remember. Books have been my comfort, my escape, my friends and my education.
Trying to single out one book was difficult (like picking a favourite child!), and finding one which had literally changed my life was even harder. Until I remembered On Writing by Stephen King.
At the age of twenty nine, I'd pushed my dream of writing fiction firmly to one side in the name of being a grown up, freelance work as a journalist, and motherhood.I wrote openings of stories and scribbled in my journal. I talked about writing a book ‘one day’, but was scared to really try. Meanwhile, I read countless interviews with authors, trying to divine 'the secret', but nothing shook my belief that I wasn't good enough, clever enough or imaginative enough to be a real writer.
As is always the way with advice, it can't just be good, it has to be the right advice given at the right time. On Writing was that perfect combination. I bought it on a recommendation from one of the author blogs I was stalking at the time, and it changed my life.
If you haven't read it (and you really should), it contains King's words of wisdom regarding writing and creativity. He talks in the most prosaic terms – about where to put your desk, how to find time, how many words to write in a day – and it made it all seem, suddenly, doable.
King sits at his desk and writes at least 2000 words every single day and this work ethic really struck home. Now, I've always been good at following directions. When I know the rules to follow, I'm happy to work really hard at them and On Writing gave me clear rules.
There's other stuff in the book, of course, but the thrust of the message is that you are ready. Whatever education, vocabulary, or experience you have, as long as you read a lot and write a lot, you can be a writer.
On Writing told me that I was good enough to be a writer and that all I had to do was work hard. On Writing said that if I committed to getting words down everyday, I would (eventually) finish a book. So that’s what I did.
I didn’t sell that first book, but I did discover that I was capable of writing one. I discovered that if I turned up to the keyboard every day and put words down, the ideas I thought I didn’t have appeared, and the books I didn’t think I was clever enough to write got written.
And now, seven years later, I am a published author.
Thank you Mr. King.