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On Writing Summary

Here’s the On Writing summary. Learn how a master storyteller writes bestselling novels that people love to read.


On Writing author Stephen King tells the habits and experiences that helped shape his work. He provides practical tips that can help people improve their writing.

He has a friendly approach in this book. It’s like having a friend telling you his own story. His stories and experiences will amaze you. You will get some idea of who he is by reading On Writing.

About the Author

Stephen King is an American author who specializes in fantasy, horror, and supernatural fiction. Among his best works are Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption, Salem’s Lot, The Shining, and The Stand.

He has also received numerous awards including Bram Stoker and World Fantasy Awards. You can see a list of his novels here.

Main takeaways: On Writing Summary

Let’s discuss the key takeaways from his book:

  1. Read, read, read.
  2. Get to work.
  3. Enrich others with your writing.

Read, read, read

If you don’t have time for reading, it’s likely that you will also have no time for writing.

Here’s another thing. Your ideas won’t come out of nowhere. Your brain is the source and you have to feed it constantly with good ideas.

Read good fiction. Learn what makes them good. Notice the style, the pacing, the content, everything.

If you want to learn how to write like the best, read the best works out there. It’s the only way to learn. You might be worrying about your style or originality. Worry about them later.

Your own style and original ideas will emerge once you have fed your mind with the good stuff.

Get to work

Writing is scary. You put yourself out there. You show your work to others. And there’s a risk of criticism and failure.

That’s why we do everything just to avoid writing. We do more research, wait for the inspiration to come, take a walk, and more. But read On Writing, you will realize that you just have to work.

Write every day. It’s the only way to get better and finish something. If you’re scared that it might not be any good, just think that you have a lot of time later to improve it.

Don’t wait for the inspiration. Just sit and type something. Do this every day and something will come out of it. Let your work evolve. As you go along the way, you will think of new ideas for your story.

Enrich others with your writing

At the end of the day, it’s still about the people who will read your work. If they liked it, you will feel satisfied. And they will keep coming back for more.

We must not fool ourselves that writing is an easy way to get rich. But we must always remind ourselves that writing is a way to enrich other’s lives. Keep in mind that a person is alone when reading our work. We have the power to touch someone’s life in a personal level.

If our work is good, we’ll derive much satisfaction from it. We know for ourselves that people get benefits from our work. We enrich their lives.

That’s why we need to put our best work out there. We also need to keep writing to please ourselves. Get up and get to work. Write something and let our work evolve.

Aside from reading more, getting to work, and enriching others, you will also learn the following from On Writing:

  • Eliminating distractions such as TV
  • How to ‘kill your darlings’
  • What writing is really about
  • Why use active voice
  • How to tell a story

My personal takeaways

I had fun reading the book. I expected it to have a serious tone. But I found out that’s not the case.

Stephen King told stories that made my day. It’s like reading a good novel. It also made me realize that writing is a lonely job. We need people to believe in us.

I’ve also learned other things about the life of a writer. Most of the time, we just have to work. It’s art but we still need to produce something consistently.

Before, I always wondered why Stephen King has produced many bestsellers. But now I have some ideas. Writing is a craft. And he loves reading and writing.

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