Stephen King’s On Writing is more than a decade old, but it remains the best book about writing I’ve ever read. Part memoir, part writing manual, it shows that King is more than just a fiction writer, and that he really knows his stuff.
The first half of the book is memoir, in which King recounts many childhood experiences that shaped him as a person and as a writer, and also gives a fascinating look into the beginning of one of the most storied literary careers. The second half is more directly about the craft of writing—and it is indeed a craft, requiring much care and practice, as King points out—and he proves himself particularly adept at teaching his craft; he offers up instruction in such a way that I never felt bored, like I was reading a textbook or sitting in a stuffy lecture hall. He gives great illustrations of what he’s saying, and he makes writing accessible, breaking it down into its simple components so that it’s not at all the daunting thing that many of us so often make it out to be.
It’s been several years since I read it, but I recently loaned it to a co-worker, and I’m looking at taking it for another walk, starting today, which is what prompted me to write this post. I haven’t read every book about writing (not even close; there are way too many with which to keep up), but On Writing is hands-down the best I’ve ever consumed, and I consider it a must-read for any working or aspiring writer.