How To Be A Truly Great Writer

How To Be A Truly Great Writer

How To Be A Truly Great Writer

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***The following article— “How To Be A Truly Great Writer” by Ashley Elizabeth Wood is not an official Albanian Voices article. The views expressed in this article are entirely those of its author and do not necessarily represent the views of Albanian Voices or any of its partner organizations.***


Stephen King is one of the United State’s most popular fiction writers. He makes around 17 million a year according to Forbes. Few writers in the world have achieved the success and well-known status that he has. He is most well-known for his contemporary horror, supernatural fiction, suspense, science fiction, and fantasy novels. His books have sold more than 350 million copies, many of which have been adapted into feature films, miniseries, television shows, and comic books. Believe it or not, he has also written a book called “On Writing” in which he talks about what makes a great writer.

It’s not easy advice to follow, but if you can try, you’ll be a better writer in no time! Here are a few tips from that book. More tips can be found here.

Prepare for more failure and criticism than you think you can handle.

When you write, you always have the chance to second-guess yourself. Stephen King says that not only will you doubt yourself, but other people will doubt you, too. In his book, he writes, “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.” It is very possible that you will begin to write something, it will become difficult and you will not feel like continuing. King says, “Stopping a piece of work just because it’s hard, either emotionally or imaginatively, is a bad idea.” Failure is inevitable. Every great writer fails, but it is important to remain optimistic. King adds that, “Optimism is a perfectly legitimate response to failure.”

on writing stephen kingStop watching television. 

If you have writers-block and you’re watching mindless television, that is your first mistake. When you are serious about writing, you need to discriminate and decide what is the best type of media you allow into your life. King says that TV is “poisonous to creativity.” He explains that writers need to look into themselves and turn toward the life of the imagination. The exception is when you are deliberately watching something that helps give you ideas or knowledge for something you are writing. Mad Men might inspire a graphic designer while Vice News documentaries might inspire a journalist. Just make sure you stay away from the commercials and limit the time you spend watching television.

Read as much as possible.

In order to be a good writer, you must be an even more avid reader. King takes a book with him everywhere he goes, and says that he even reads during meals. “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot,” he says. Read a wide variety of subjects and topics. Make sure you are giving yourself inspiration and spending your time wisely.

Write mostly for yourself.

If you are not happy writing, you should not write. Writing should bring you happiness and fulfillment. In his book, King mentions that he started writing, “…for the pure joy of the thing. And if you can do it for joy, you can do it forever.” If you do not care about a subject you are writing about, you will have a hard time convincing your reader of your passion. If you are genuine in your intention, your writing style won’t matter nearly as much as your topic. Any type of writer can succeed when he or she is following their heart. Forget about developing special literary techniques  or trying to hard. Write for you. Make yourself happy first.

When you write, completely disconnect from the world. 

This is the part that usually discourages writers for two reasons: 1) it can be lonely 2) it can be difficult to isolate yourself from distractions. Stephen King says that writing should be a fully intimate activity. In his book, King advises, “Write with the door closed; rewrite with the door open.” It is also very important to maintain total privacy between you and your work, according to King. He says this is because your first draft is totally raw and it is the sort of thing that you’ll feel better about when the door is shut. He says that your first draft is the story undressed, standing there in nothing but its socks and underwear.

imagesDon’t be pretentious. Cut out unnecessary words.

The hardest part of writing is to erase a huge part of what you wrote in order to make your story readable. Many writers have a hard time letting go of passages, descriptions or explanations that end up being unnecessary just because of the amount of time they have spent writing those parts. King advises famously (or did he?), “Kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.” Even though revision is one of the most difficult parts of writing, it is absolutely essential to leave out the junk so that the story or essay can move along. Even if the sentence is perfectly written, if it does not bring light to your subject in a new and thoughtful way, cut it out.

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