Saturday, February 7, 2015

ON WRITING: Get off it and play big.

Finishing and then rereading Stephen King's unexpectedly moving book -- a combination memoir and treatise on the craft of creating good fiction -- was a breakthrough. If you expect to write anything worth reading, maybe it's time to buy this book and read it twice.

My Landmark Forum summary of King's gift to writers would be: "Get off it and play big." Meaning: No more excuses. No more distractions. Get to work. This is it, right now. Did you write your thousand words today or not? If you did, great, you're creating possibility. If you didn't, you're not a writer, so please don't bullshit anyone and say you are. Not right now, anyway. No blame. You're just not writing.

Quotes from the book that really hit me include:

“Writing is not life, but I think that sometimes it can be a way back to life.” 

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

"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.” 

"Your job isn't to find these ideas but to recognize them when they show up.” 

"Kill your darlings."

“It starts with this: put your desk in the corner, and every time you sit down there to write, remind yourself why it isn't in the middle of the room. Life isn't a support system for art. It's the other way around.” 

“Can I be blunt on this subject? If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” 

“Talent renders the whole idea of rehearsal meaningless; when you find something at which you are talented, you do it (whatever it is) until your fingers bleed or your eyes are ready to fall out of your head. Even when no one is listening (or reading or watching), every outing is a bravura performance, because you as the creator are happy. Perhaps even ecstatic.”

"It's writing, damn it, not washing the car or putting on eyeliner. If you can take it seriously, we can do business. If you can't or won't, it's time for you to close the book and do something else. Wash the car, maybe.”

By the way, those last two, contextually, are about setting and exceeding a mandatory daily word count -- say, 1000 words -- and reading something important every day. Good advice.