Welcome to whatever is on my mind!

Some people use the term "nonsense" but I prefer to use the phrase "uncommonly sensed" because it's more reflective of creative types.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Book Review: On Writing

Sound Advice from a Master
Stephen King published this book in 2000 and I had never read it until someone loaned me a copy this past month. If you think you want to be a writer, then I highly recommend this book to you. It contains a lot of wisdom as well as “street smarts” about the craft. Many of the tips in this book I learned the hard way and I’ve found them to be useful. The best thing about this book is that it is practical and down to earth.

This book not only gives some of King’s history on how he became a writer, it also mentions his struggles and what he did to make things work. The bottom line, if you want to be a writer you need to be committed and take it seriously even though you may never earn enough money to support yourself from it. Not everyone who makes this commitment will make it as a writer, but you have an even lower chance of success if you don’t take it seriously.

My Review: I highly recommend this book to individuals who want to write professionally.

My Final Advice: Don’t Wait for the Mood
I write in a different genre and don’t have the same level of audience, but I have one additional tip for struggling writers that may be useful. If you have a full time job or other responsibilities (such as kids) and can only find small bits of time to write (an hour here or there), don’t use this as an excuse not to write. You should be writing every day. Even if you don’t keep everything you write. Don’t wait for the mood. Just do it.

One thing that can help to put you in the right mood or frame of mind is music. When my schedule gets crazy and I only have small bits of time, I will select an instrumental CD that reflects the mood and tone of the piece I’m writing. This drives some people insane, but I can listen to the same song over and over and not get bored. That’s because most of my attention is on my words. Every piece of music has a color and this hue gets reflected in the passages that I write. This helps to quickly focus my mind and also serves to block out ambient noise (like kids asking when dinner will be ready).

I don’t do this with all my books, but it has helped a lot in the past. Songs with words can be appropriate, but it depends upon the project. In fact, I wrote my entire Master’s thesis in about a week while listening to the soundtrack from Beauty and the Beast. “Kill the Beast” seemed an appropriate anthem for writing a 65 page research paper that was the monster keeping me from graduation. It obviously worked, because it was later published in an APA Journal.


  1. I could bitch about Steven's work: I really could, but no buddy can write like that guy. I'll buy it, I'll read it, I'll let it influence me. Why; because I trust Amy. I think she's way scary smarter than Steven.

    1. Thanks, Paul - I appreciate the compliment. I don't read much horror and I think I've only read one of King's fiction works (I'm jut a fan of different genres). However, I do respect how well he knows his market and this book is full of practical advice for any writer. I hope you find it useful, as well!

  2. A friend of mine also a writer told me to read "On Writing" at the beginning of this year it is awesome.

    1. Thanks for adding your endorsement - I was sorry I didn't read this sooner. I wouldn't have had to learn so much through experience!

  3. Amy - So glad you found the book interesting and helpful. I love his approach and the tinge of magic he attributs to the process. Now, if we only had a door ...

  4. What a nice serious blog post. I love your advice about music. Usually it distracts me, but I really should try it so I am more consistent.