On Writing

On Writing is the only (correct me if I am wrong) non-fiction book by the great Mr. Stephen King. I’ve wanted to read this for a long time but it’s so hard to find. I found the translation version somewhere in my local bookstore but I don’t want to read any SK’s translated book ever again. 2 translated books are more than enough. I got my chance when my friend went to Australia.

I enjoy this book a lot!! I rarely read non-fiction, but this book able to capture all my attention. Maybe the fact that Stephen King is the one who writes it is the major reason why I enjoy the book, however I found many non Stephen King’s fans also enjoy this book.

Writing this review is very difficult…there are so many things I want to say but I don’t know how to put them all in this post.

The book was written after SK had a terrible accident that almost took his life away. This book was divided into 4 parts plus 1 short story by Garret Addams.

The first part is called C.V. This part contain his autobiography, it isn’t as detail as formal autobiography…it’s more like a glimpse into Stephen King’s past. He writes about his tendency to like monsters more than Bambi.  He also tells us about his unusual brother and his mother’s struggle in raising them. He faced many kinds of rejections toward his short stories but he kept on writing one story after another. After he graduated from college, he couldn’t find a job suitable for his title and ended up working in a laundry. He got his 1st inspiration for Carrie while working there. He completed it when he became an English Teacher. Beyond his expectation, Carriewas worth $ 400.000. He admits that he became an alcohol and drug addict during his early years as an author. His family saved him and got him back to his clean life.

The second part is called Toolbox. In this part, he writes about the tools needed by every all writers. On the top shelf, you need vocabulary and grammar…but don’t worry!! The grammar thing is not about naming them but about using them. He also mentions how he hates adverb. He tries not to use lots and lots of unimportant adverb because adverb tends to weaken the sentences. To know more about SK’s toolbox, you need to read the book by yourself.

On the third part, it is called On Writing, he writes about inspiration…where he finds inspiration for his books. He also tells us about a good way in writing dialogues. He gives some example of bad dialogue and great dialogue from other authors. This part is really interesting.

The last part, On Living: A Post Script, begins with his near dead experience. A van hit him. He was lucky to be alive. The part that I like the most is how King asked for his wife when he was so sure that he was going to die. I believe that someone truly loves you when he/she asks for you before he/she dies. The way King remembered his wife and children really touches my heart.

Before he closes his book, he gives an example of 1st draft and 2nd draft. 2nd draft always 10% shorter than the 1st one. He gives some tips for us to be able to edit our own 1st draft and only let other people read it once it already becomes 2nd draft.

The short story in the end of the book is not too interesting…I find it a bit boring.

Overall, this book worth 5 stars from me, a guaranteed reread book.

Reading my own review makes me realize that what I’ve written DOES NOT do any justice toward On Writing. The book is grandeur than this simple and flat review. There are so many good quotes from this book. I put 2 of them in my Teaser Tuesday, here and here.

Here’s another one to close my review:

Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid or making friends. In the end, it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well. … .Writing is magic, as much the water of life as any other creative art. The water is free. So drink. Drink and be filled.

Extra thought: when Stephen King said that he is a slow reader, he can only read up to 70-80 books a year, I smiled…I smiled because that would me make a snail reader, I can only read as much as 40 books a year and Manga are included in it 😉

Wulan of Nerd in Writing has written her favorite quotes from this book, do visit her blog if you want to see the wonder of On Writing.


  1. King is a great writer, arguably more so when he’s not writing those horror books he’s famous for.

    I remember my better half loaning me Danse Macabre, which is his exploration of the horror genre – in a way, it sounds similar to On Writing, and explores his own particular style. It’s a little dated now, but I think you might enough it if you’re looking for a similar read.

    1. Thanks for letting me know Darren, I’m not just looking for similar read when it comes to Stephen King…I WILL READ everything he writes.

      Yes he is a great writer!! I know I might be a bit bias because I love his works, but if you look it the other way, I love his works because he is a great writer.

      Yeah I agree with you, his non-horror books are amazing…take a look at The Green Mile, I love that book. I want to (and I will, one way or another) read more of his less horror books. Looking forward to find Different Seasons.

  2. Hi ?
    I’m milo from indonesia.
    Aku punya masalah dalam bahasa inggris.
    Kamu bisa bantu aku gak untuk mengimprove bahasa inggrisku.
    Aku tau ini kedengaran aneh but aku selalu minta sama 0rang-orang yg bisa bahasa inggris untuk mengajari saya, tapi gak ada hasil yg memuaskan.
    Please tolong saya ?

    Saya suka tulisan kamu, yang sangat menandakan kamu itu pinter.
    Tapi sayang banyak kata-kata dalam bahasa inggris yg tidak saya mengerti, dan akhirnya kamuslah teman saya.

    Thank you for attention.
    You can send the answer through your web or send by email.

    1. Hi Milo…thank you so much for the warm compliment 🙂 It’s really nice of you.

      NO, I don’t think it’s strange to be asking everyone to help you with your English, in fact, that’s a really good way and shows how determine you are. I’d love to help you 🙂

      Tapi, maaf ya Milo, kalo qt memang mau melanjutkan obrolan ttg belajar bhs Inggris, obrolannya di pindah ke message board aja ya 😉 krn jd ga nyambung dgn topic post ini.

    1. But that 40 include Manga (Japanese Graphic Novel/Comic). I still enjoy reading Manga tho I’m not a kid/teenager anymore. Manga can be read in 2 hours per volume.

      Well movie takes shorter time than book 😉

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