First things first is that I had a click about what to write. He talks about how often times people try to write what they think is good or popular but is not what they actually like. For Stephen, he is a really good writer and he really likes the horror genre. Critics often questioned why he used his talent to write some of the stuff he did and the answer was that he enjoyed it and it came easily. You could argue that that is why it was so well-received by the public. When I think back on the books I’ve loved over the years they include some magic and fantasy intertwined with reality. The Harry Potter Series and The Time Traveler’s Wife were my absolute favorites. That is the sort of thing I am writing now (well was writing till I came to that screeching halt..more on that in a bit) and is basically what my last book was. So despite the fact that the stuff I write and like is not the stuff the members of my writing group are drawn to, it is most definitely the right thing for me.
The next piece of advice I got and found that it confirmed what my gut had been telling me all along was this: “First write with the door closed, then write with it open.” I’m not sure if the quote is exactly right but the gist is when you are working on a first draft show it to no one until it is finished. If you show your work to people as you go you may get good feedback which will cause you to get ahead of yourself and start planning the future of the book instead of just writing it. If you get bad feedback you may get discouraged and come to a screeching halt. I knew exactly what he was talking about because I made this mistake. I started writing my novel and chapter by chapter started sharing it with others, friends and my writing group. I got some great feedback that got those wheels turning and stars clouding my vision. I got some bad feedback that made me want to cry and tear the whole thing up. The whole time my inner voice kept telling me to STOP sharing it. I didn’t. Ultimately I ran out of steam. The balloon of excitement that contained the book deflated little by little until I found myself no longer writing it.
Which I guess brings me to the last bit of advice which is that quote I featured last Sunday. “If God gives you something you can do, why in God’s name wouldn’t you do it?” I don’t think I’m a great writer, in fact I still struggle with even calling myself a writer at all. For me that phrase (I am a writer) is more like an affirmation…something I say until it becomes true. But I do know that I’ve always loved putting words together and sharing them with people. I know that I feel a little more alive when I write something that moves someone in some way. For many years (about 11 I think) I didn’t write. God had given me something I could do and I didn’t do it. For three years though, I’ve been doing it. I’d like to do it more. The only reason I’m excited to see Callee go off to kindergarten next year is the promise of 3 or more good hours a day of uninterrupted writing time. I think it will be my heaven or at least my salvation.
The book was filled with great advice and fascinating stories about Stephen’s life. If definitely made me feel better about my own writing. I don’t yet have the hours in my schedule that he suggests putting in (3-6 per day) but I will do what I can and hopefully embrace those hours when they arrive. Thank you, Stephen King, for your wonderful book.