Thursday, May 15, 2014

Stephen King and "Read A lot, Write A Lot"

Okay!! I’m really jazzed!  I was working out this morning and I needed something to listen to; so I started re-re-re-re-listening to Stephen King’s “On Writing.” If you’re a writer, you simply have to read it.  It’s a must!  Seriously!  If you haven’t read Stephen King’s “On Writing” and you want to be a writer, stop reading right now and get it.  Here’s a link to Amazon.

King always gets me really fired up.  Whenever I start to feel “bla” about writing, I listen to his book and I get raring to go!!

Today, I was listening to the part where he was discussing the two golden commandments for writers … to read a lot and to write a lot.  I think he said we should read four to six hours a day.  Personally, I believe that’s a bit much.  I figure I read maybe two hours a day—maybe an hour on the treadmill and ten minutes in the car to work and a few stolen minutes here and there.  When you work full time and have a family and want to write, finding four to six hours is a bit difficult.

But I’m getting side-tracked! 

In On Writing, King asks the question, “What should you write?” and his answer is “Whatever you damn well want.”

The question then arises, “What should you read?” 

King doesn’t talk about that much and the prevailing thought on the internet seems to say that writers should read the genre they like to write.  And this makes sense.  If you like to write fantasy, you probably also like to read it.

But I wonder, does reading books in your genre somehow inhibit creativity?  Do you worry about subconsciously “stealing” from other authors?  For example, I’ve found myself writing characters who talk like the characters in the books I was reading at the time.  Does that make sense?  Does this ever happen to you?

I don’t have an answer to this. I’m just genuinely curious what you all think.  Those of you who write, do you read mainly in your writing genre?

This is something else that I want to throw out there.  I would suggest that not only should we read in our genre, but we should make ourselves read outside our genres as well.  After all, reading a romance story would help me learn to write the romantic scenes that occur in my fantasy.  Same with horror and thrillers and so forth.  After all, a book may be listed as an “epic fantasy” but it should also have elements from other genres.

I would also suggest that we should read non-fiction.  I know I pick up a lot from reading histories of medieval periods.  It helps infuse a touch of realism in our “made up” worlds.

Okay!  That’s if for me today. I just wanted to throw some of that out there and see what you all think.  I’m off to write!  I hope you’re all having terrific days!

See you next time!


  1. I questioned this exact same thing in a post not too long ago -

    I do think we should read but I also think we should get out more, talk to people and do lots of things outside of reading and writing. The pub industry is at best, a safe-ish place. You're likely to find more similarities than uniqueness. Originality in books is hard to find on the shelf so maybe it's better to find it elsewhere and then transfer it onto the page. That's my opinion anyway...

    1. Hey S.E.! How are you doing? And everybody... if you are interested in writing...check out the!!!

      And you raise a really important point. It isn't just about read a lot, write a lot. There's life as well. When I went to Bergen Norway, I just fell in love with the city, especially the different colored buildings. I put that into my writing. Same with when I visited a castle and felt the cold, rutted, stone steps. Those are the kind of details that really make books wonderful (not that mine are wonderful. But you know what I mean.)

      And I also agree with you about originality. If you have something truly original, it's hard to get published. It seems that publishers, as you say, want to play it safe.

      Really good talking to you! How are things going?

    2. All is well, other than my internet crashing and real life getting in the way of my writing, I'm hanging in there!

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  3. I've just purchased Stephen King's On Writing and it is serving me well... Thank you for the reference!

    1. You won't regret it, Dahron. There's also another book called "On Writing" by Sol Stein. It is also good, however, the author often comes across as just a tad arrogant.

      Does anybody else have any good writing books they'd like to recommend?