Stephen King's -On Writing!

Dansande Trad  
On Writing is one of my favorite books! No horror, no scary stories, just truth about writers and about the writing process. Let's hear from you!

Stephen writes (King, 2000):

"My first original story idea —you always know the first one, I think— "

"There is no Idea Dump, no Story Central, no Island of the Buried Bestsellers; good story ideas seem to come quite literally

from nowhere,"

Did you know or understand your first story? 

My stories came out of the blue; I was initially unsure how to start WRITING.

Should I type it out on my laptop? Should I dictate it? No, I just sat down with a pen and paper, and off we went...There is a tether between writer and pen. The pen (or pencil! 🙂) is motion, creating action.

I write best at different times throughout the day, with bursts of energy in the morning and late evening. I will try to write it all out, then go back and edit it or move ideas around. My children's book series was right there, all the stories in a line at once, almost magic, leading me into the next chapter. It was surprising and fun! As the characters develop, I take more time planning their path to ensure I have an arc that fits with my premise. I found most of my inspiration from Nature. My children's books are Nature themed; I feel strongly connected to the environment, which infuses my work. 

I have been accepted to a few reputable self-publishing companies; however, I have declined self-publishing for now because I believe in my work and feel it is worthy. To believe in oneself and have hope is to wait for the right opportunity. Stephen King began his career with small Publishers, sending in stories for $25.00, yet these smaller stories were stepping stones. All great storytellers begin at the beginning. Recently I was Saturday bumming through farmers markets and ran across a book published by the Detective Book Club Press (great name!). I think back to those writers in the early 1920s, dreaming of connecting to people they would never meet. Nowadays, I think it's challenging to get off the ground, so to speak, and I have begun to consider starting my own publishing press. The struggle of writing the perfect story reaches throughout centuries and is life and memory.

I look forward to connecting and happy writing!

19+ Comments


Welcome, Dansande!

I knew my first story, but didn’t understand it right away – as in why I was writing that story.

I have been accepted to a few reputable self-publishing companies

I wasn’t aware that there were self-publishing companies with an evaluation/acceptance process in place.

Oct-30 at 17:31


Hi Liynx,

Well, they all say there is an “acceptance” process. You have to “submit” your work and wait for an evaluation. The companies will offer an acceptance or sometimes say there is a “package” waiting for you; however, in the end, it’s just a hybrid or, more likely, just you paying most of the costs, and they get a share of the profits. I am not faulting the formula; it works well for many writers, and some writers blossom under this arrangement. I have been with Critique Circle for years, since 2017. I love it; it gives my work a chance to be reviewed without the drama of family or friends’ emotions! It helped me with my first book because I could not get an accurate read on it. The critiques strengthen me, and I am now on my fourth book in my series!

I think the “why” of the story is critical! Keep searching for answers, can’t wait to read your work!

Oct-30 at 17:53


I think that phrase might be an oxymoron. :face_with_monocle:

@Dansande On Writing is a good one, the first ‘how-to’ I read. King has limitations. Much better is Ursula K Leguin’s Steering the Craft.

Campbell’s The Hero With a Thousand Faces is not a ‘how-to’, but it’s pretty much required reading. It defines the Monomyth- every story is the same story, owing to shared human experience.

Oct-30 at 17:59


Of course, there are reputable self-publishing companies. For a fee, they provide various services to help you publish your book. Just because they charge for their labor, creativity, and insight does not mean they are lacking in integrity any more than custom builders would be lacking in integrity because they build a house to your specs for a fee.

Oct-31 at 03:35


I thought King’s On Writing had two compelling aspects: Stories about his own life, and his story about being a young sports writer for his high school newspaper and showing how he learned to cut extraneous words. Other than that, it felt very much like a ‘me too’ book by a successful writer, even though he had a long explanation at the start about how he would not write a ‘me too’ book as a successful writer.

I found Sol Stein’s On Writing more helpful regarding the craft, and Strunk and White’s Elements of Style more helpful regarding being concise.

Oct-31 at 03:54


I suppose. You’ve been more successful than many.

It’s well-known that most self-pub books only sell a few copies. I read some stats that support the sentiment.

I’m admittedly biased. Self-pub used to be the kiss of death and I’m still in that wheelhouse. IMO Writers don’t pay publishers. Publishers pay writers. Pay the Writer is an adopted motto.

But it seems to me that I hear an awful lot of horror stories about self-pub outfits and failures, and very few about successes.

Oct-31 at 04:09


There are a couple of things here.

First, it’s not about me or anyone else’s success or lack thereof in self-publishing. I was simply asserting that just because you hire someone to carry out various services in support of your self-publishing does not mean they are corrupt. Many (not all) are just trying to make a living and want to get paid for their time and effort. It’s not a profound or new idea.

Absolutely true. Entirely irrelevant.

No, they don’t. Ever. I don’t know where this nonsense comes from? Writers pay the publisher. In the traditional publishing realm, their work (if successful) generates enough sales to pay the publisher for their editing, production, marketing, etc., efforts albeit after they are published.

Oct-31 at 04:22


However, if they require you to submit your work for evaluation before agreeing to "accept’ you as one of ‘their’ authors, they are almost certainly a vanity publisher and a scam.

There are genuine self-publishing support services out there but you pay for the services you need and that’s that. I guess occasionally, they might decline a novel if the writing was so awful they couldn’t fix it, but otherwise they never act as gatekeepers

Oct-31 at 04:48


Publishers do pay writers. They pay an advance, for a start. Then they pay royalties. on sales. How is that not ‘paying’?

Oct-31 at 04:53


Where does that money come from?

Oct-31 at 04:58


So what you’re saying is, the publisher does pay, but it’s from sales which you might’ve made on your own.

That’s not the same thing as “not paying”, and assumes you’d have made the same sales on your own. Plus of course, you keep your advance whether or not the publisher covers their costs

Oct-31 at 06:14


Exactly, I actually got a publishing contract, but then the publisher pulled out before publication. They made a loss with me, as I got to keep the (small) advance and had all rights returned to me. (That sounds as if I won, but believe me it didn’t feel like it)

Oct-31 at 09:18


Do they write a check with their name on it to you? Yes. My point is that the money comes from writers. They have no money other than what they get from writers. And at that, they only return some money to the writers from the writers’ book sales after they skim off enough to pay for their CEO, all their VPs, all their other staff, their buildings their brand marketing, their travel budget to shows, etc., etc. Publishers never pay writers. They never have. It’s how the process works. It’s not good or bad, it just is.

Oct-31 at 11:45


A vanity press is not by definition a scam.

Oct-31 at 11:47


Welcome to CC, Dansande! :slight_smile:

I read Stephen King’s biography about five years ago. He wrote about a lot of good tools to add to the toolbox. I also got a kick out of the poison ivy incident. He had me laughing good.

Oct-31 at 11:50


Has anyone published using Kindle? I have heard that is a good way to “get your book out there”. Any other ideas for self-publishing? Can anyone recommend a legacy publisher that is accepting submissions? :wink:

Oct-31 at 11:58


Check out the ‘Publishing’ thread for lots of information on self-publishing, kindle, trad publishing and all the advantages and disadvantages for each.

Oct-31 at 12:43


There are a number of us here who have done so and published in other ways as well. The thread @Wendyg mentions has a lot of info and a lot of misinfo. I’d be most attentive to those here who are in the publishing industry (there are a couple) and those who have significant experience with publishing in a variety of ways.

Oct-31 at 13:43


That’s just silly. If by some stubborn logic you’re trying to say that writers generate money for all involved, of course they do; same as actors and football players.

Publishers paid Rowling a billion dollars. GRRM’s net worth is $120MM. Gaiman- $18MM.
The money didn’t magically appear from rubbing an oddly-shaped oil lamp.

Writers produce Work. They get paid for their work. Some do write for free, but they’ll learn soon enough.

Oct-31 at 15:03
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