Click the image for 19 more Stephen King's quotes on writing

Most of the quotes were taken from this book.

1. “Any word you have to hunt for in a thesaurus is the wrong word. There are no exceptions to this rule.”

2. “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. It’s about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy.”

3. “Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open.”

4. “Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.”

5. “In many cases when a reader puts a story aside because it ‘got boring,’ the boredom arose because the writer grew enchanted with his powers of description and lost sight of his priority, which is to keep the ball rolling.”

6. “Life isn’t a support system for art. It’s the other way around.”

7. “So okay – there you are in your room with the shade down and the door shut and the plug pulled out of the base of the telephone. You’ve blown up your TV and committed yourself to a thousand words a day, come hell or high water. Now comes the big question: What are you going to write about? And the equally big answer: Anything you damn well want. ”

8. “When asked, “How do you write?” I invariably answer, “One word at a time,” and the answer is invariably dismissed. But that is all it is. It sounds too simple to be true, but consider the Great Wall of China, if you will: one stone at a time, man. That’s all. One stone at a time. But I’ve read you can see that motherfucker from space without a telescope.”

9. “Running a close second [as a writing lesson] was the realization that stopping a piece of work just because it’s hard, either emotionally or imaginatively, is a bad idea. Sometimes you have to go on when you don’t feel like it, and sometimes you’re doing good work when it feels like all you’re managing is to shovel shit from a sitting position.”

10. “You cannot hope to sweep someone else away by the force of your writing until it has been done to you.”

Click the image for 19 more Stephen King's quotes on writing

11. “if you expect to succeed as a writer, rudeness should be the second-to-least of your concerns. The least of all should be polite society and what it expects. If you intend to write as truthfully as you can, your days as a member of polite society are numbered, anyway.”

12. “Good description is a learned skill, one of the prime reasons why you cannot succeed unless you read a lot and write a lot. It’s not just a question of how-to, you see; it’s also a question of how much to. Reading will help you answer how much, and only reams of writing will help you with the how. You can learn only by doing.”

13. “Let’s get one thing clear right now

, shall we? There is no Idea Dump, no Story Central, no Island of the Buried Bestsellers; good story ideas seem to come quite literally from nowhere, sailing at you right out of the empty sky: two previously unrelated ideas come together and make something new under the sun. Your job isn’t to find these ideas but to recognize them when they show up.”

14. “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.”

15.  “I’m a slow reader, but I usually get through seventy or eighty books a year, most fiction. I don’t read in order to study the craft; I read because I like to read”

Click the image for 19 more Stephen King's quotes on writing

16. “if you’re just starting out as a writer, you could do worse than strip your television’s electric plug-wire, wrap a spike around it, and then stick it back into the wall. See what blows, and how far. Just an idea.”

17. “kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings”

18. “I have spent a good many years since–too many, I think–being ashamed about what I write. I think I was forty before I realized that almost every writer of fiction or poetry who has ever published a line has been accused by someone of wasting his or her God-given talent. If you write (or paint or dance or sculpt or sing, I suppose), someone will try to make you feel lousy about it, that’s all.”

19. “I am always chilled and astonished by the would-be writers who ask me for advice and admit, quite blithely, that they “don’t have time to read.” This is like a guy starting up Mount Everest saying that he didn’t have time to buy any rope or pitons.”

20. “The most important things to remember about back story are that (a) everyone has a history and (b) most of it isn’t very interesting.”

Next: Ernest Hemingway’s 20 Quotes on Writing


see also:

You Have Time to Read (and You Have Time to Write)

Vladimir Nabokov’s 20 Quotes on Writing

Isaac Asimov’s 20 Quotes on Writing

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42 thoughts on “Stephen King’s 20 Quotes on Writing

  1. As a published writer myself, I have always taken what Stephen King says to heart. Interestingly enough, those guidelines apply for ALL genre’s…not just horror writers. One of the rules I try to keep close to heart is don’t ‘over-write’. Writing is bit like magic, and trying to describe your descriptions is like letting the numbers be seen through the painting, or the supposed invisible string that makes the flowers disappear from your hand. I would rather write a quality 80,000 word book than an overly-bloated 150,000 word piece of doodoo…lol

    1. Orwell and Vonnegut have very good pieces on writing. They basically say their “rules”, which are different, but they end it with something like “rules are meant to be broken”.
      I think he has excellent tips and insights but in the end, if you find a way opposite to his, go for it!

  2. I’m a writer, and I just finished the first draft of my first novel. I committed myself to writing SOMETHING, even if only a sentence, every day. Most days I was able to pump out a few hundred words, even up to 3k one day, but I wrote nonetheless. One thing that always bothers the hell out of me, though, is people who call themselves “Aspiring” or “Wannabe” Writers. I didn’t ASPIRE to be a writer. I AM a writer. Aspiration will only take you so far.

  3. I am not a writer but I do read a lot and Stephen King is right at the top of my list of authors. I have been bowled over by the movies made from his books, but there is nothing like curling up with one of his epic novels!

  4. Stephen King is the “King” of Terror Writing. I am a Constant Reader also. The quotes are as true as writing the truth can be. I will keep them as a guide, to humble me when the time is necessary. “No truer words were ever spoken…”

  5. Stephen King is one of my favourite authors. I loved these quotes as much as I love his books. “…shoveling shit from a sitting position…” That’s epic! Thanks a lot for sharing.

  6. Thanks! I’m a journalist and essayist by trade and I read mostly non-fiction and memoir, because that’s what I enjoy the most, but Stephen King is one of my faves and always has been! So much of this rings true in my own work, even though I don’t write fiction. Do you like his writing memoir, “On Writing”? I’ve read it at least twice.

      1. Thanks so much for the suggestion! I LOVED the audio-version of the book. It’s great to hear the actual author narrate the book.

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