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21 of the Best Quotes On Writing By Stephen King

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.

― Stephen King

In this post I present you with 21 of my personal favorite quotes (lessons, really) from Stephen King’s brilliant book, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, and 21 interesting and fun facts about Uncle Stevie.

Quotes by Stephen King On Writing

Yes, I like the spooky stuff. But more importantly, and closer to my heart, I love a good story. And Uncle Stevie can tell a damn good story. Thankfully he’s graciously shared his wisdom with us, and generations of writers to come, via his memoir about the craft, “On Writing.”

Enjoy the quotes, but to get the most out of them be sure to read the book.

(The Interesting Fun Facts About Stephen King (IFFASK) below are borrowed from these sources.)

21 of Stephen King’s best quotes:

The first quote is dedicated to my wife, Joan. I’ve found it to be the truest statement about writing, ever.

Writing is a lonely job. Having someone who believes in you makes a lot of difference.

― Stephen King (Tweet This Quote)

1 – IFFASK: King met his wife Tabitha while the two were working at the Fogler Library as students at the University of Maine in Orono, Maine.

Books are a uniquely portable magic.

― Stephen King (Tweet This Quote)

2 – IFFASK: After watching the first cut of Rob Reiner’s “Stand by Me,” King was said to be crying and stated it was the closest adaptation to one of his novels he’d ever seen.

Writing is seduction.

― Stephen King (Tweet This Quote)

3 – IFFASK: King disliked Stanley Kubrick’s, “The Shining,” which was adapted from his novel of the same name. King therefore produced a mini series that follows his novel more closely.

Description begins in the writer’s imagination, but should finish in the reader’s.

― Stephen King (Tweet This Quote)

4 – IFFASK: In 2009 King fulfilled a lifetime ambition, expressed in “Salem’s Lot,” of being interviewed in Playboy Magazine.

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.

― Stephen King

5 – IFFASK: The description of the character Ben Mears, in “Salem’s Lot,” is taken from King himself.

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.

― Stephen King

6 – IFFASK: King played guitar in the group The Rock-Bottom Remainders, a band that was made up entirely of novelists. The Rock-Bottom Remainders performed their last concert in 2012.

By the time I was fourteen the nail in my wall would no longer support the weight of the rejection slips impaled upon it. I replaced the nail with a spike and went on writing.

― Stephen King

7 – IFFASK: King published seven novels (“Rage” – “The Long Walk” – “Roadwork” – “The Running Man” – “Thinner” – “The Regulators” and “Blaze”) under the pseudonym Richard Bachman.

The road to hell is paved with adverbs.

― Stephen King (Tweet This Quote)

8 – IFFASK: King used to work for a dry cleaner before publishing his first novel.

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.

― Stephen King

9 – IFFASK: King wrote reviews of J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” series for Entertainment Weekly magazine.

When you write a book, you spend day after day scanning and identifying the trees. When you’re done, you have to step back and look at the forest.

― Stephen King

10 – IFFASK: King is an avid AC/DC fan. AC/DC did the soundtrack for the Stephen King movie, “Maximum Overdrive.”

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

― Stephen King (Tweet This Quote)

11 – IFFASK: Adaptations of King’s work have featured two generations of Sheens and Sutherlands. Kiefer Sutherland appeared in “Stand by Me”, while Donald Sutherland appeared in “‘Salem’s Lot.” Martin Sheen and Ramon Estevez both appeared in “The Dead Zone” and Emilio Estevez appeared in “Maximum Overdrive.”

The scariest moment is always just before you start. After that, things can only get better.

― Stephen King (Tweet This Quote)

12 – IFFASK: King once flew on a plane that ran into turbulence. The oxygen mask came out, and his seat was ripped from the floor and he landed on his side, still strapped in. It was a while before he could get on a plane again.

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.

― Stephen King (Tweet This Quote)

13 – IFFASK: Stephen King said he will never co-author a book with his wife, because he feels that if they ever did, it would lead to divorce court.

The more you read, the less apt you are to make a fool of yourself with your pen or word processor.

― Stephen King (Tweet This Quote)

14 – IFFASK: Not long after 9/11, someone left a package on King’s doorstep. The bomb squad was called in and incinerated it. It turns out it was King’s novel, “It.”

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.

― Stephen King

15 – IFFASK: King has a personal library made up of 17,000 books, and most of them he’s read.

But 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.

― Stephen King

16 – IFFASK: The one question King hates to be asked more than any other by the fans is, “Where do you get your ideas?”

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.

― Stephen King

17 – IFFASK: Many of King’s stories take place in or near the fictional small town of Castle Rock, Maine. The first film to be based on a Castle Rock story was “The Dead Zone.” Director Rob Reiner subsequently named his production company Castle Rock Entertainment.

Kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.

― Stephen King (Tweet This Quote)

18 – IFFASK: Cites Sir William Golding’s novel Lord of the Flies as a major influence on him. One of the chapters in that book was “Castle Rock,” which later became the name of a fictional town in several of King’s stories.

Let me say it again: You must not come lightly to the blank page.

― Stephen King (Tweet This Quote)

19 – IFFASK: King was the first American to win the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Canadian Booksellers Association.

Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open.

― Stephen King (Tweet This Quote)

20 – IFFASK: King’s books have sold more than 350 million copies.

Optimism is a perfectly legitimate response to failure.

― Stephen King (Tweet This Quote)

21 – IFFASK: On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft” was praised by Roger Ebert as the most useful and insightful book about writing since Strunk and White’s, The Elements of Style.

Bonus IFFASK: “Uncle Stevie” is how King often refers to himself when addressing his fans and likewise his most loyal fans –ahem– have followed suit.

Share your favorite quotes from King in the comments.

**Special announcement: Jeff Goins closes registration for Tribe Writers tomorrow. If you’re interesting in becoming a better writer and building an audience of readers who care about your work, check it out here.

About Bryan Hutchinson

I'm a positive writer and when that doesn't work, I eat chocolate. I help fellow writers overcome doubt and thrive! In my free time, I love visiting castles with my wife, Joan. Join me on Twitter and Facebook.

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Like a good friend, Bryan guides you through the process of facing your inner demons, conquering the craft, and creating work that matters. ―Jeff Goins
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  • Marcy Mason McKay

    Bryan – I take it you’re a fan of Uncle Stevie? 🙂

    Years ago, when I first read On Writing, I just read the “writing” side. King’s work terrified me and I didn’t read him, but I liked him so much after I the second half of the book that I went back and reread the whole thing.

    My favorite quote is, “By the time I was fourteen the nail in my wall would no longer support the weight of the rejection slips impaled upon it. I replaced the nail with a spike and went on writing.”

    It says writing takes practice. If you want to improve, you’ve got to work at your craft.

    • So true. Lot’s of practice. Yes, I’m a fan. This was one of those self-indulgent fun posts I like to do from time to time. 🙂

      • Marcy Mason McKay

        I don’t think it’s self-indulgent at all. King is a prolific writer (that’s why he’s the KING!), so we can all learn from him.

  • Renia Carsillo

    This is great Bryan! I re-read On Writing every year and always find something new.

    • Brent Meske

      You and me both 🙂

    • E.S. Connor

      I thought I was the only one rereading “On Writing” every time I can, good to meet another member of the cult. jeje

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