Reading about writing

There are a lot of things I want to get better at. One of those things is writing.

Oh, wait... I'll try again:

There are a lot of skills I want to improve on. One of those is writing.

Baby steps.

Yesterday I started to read the book “On writing” by Stephen King. It’s part autobiography and part a collection of advice for a aspiring writers.

It’s the first time I read a book by Stephen King. I remember we had a German teacher in high school who said that Stephen King novels were bad for the soul. I’m actually surprised that this didn’t make me want to read his novels as an act of rebellion. I guess I always had other things to read. Someone had to check up on all those detectives to see if they would find the murderers!

Stephen King mentions in the book that in his earlier years he often felt ashamed of what he had written. He didn't lose that feeling until he was in his 40s. And people like that German teacher were probably not helping! Poor Stephen. Now he says that no writer should ever feel ashamed of what they have produced.

It's easier said than done. I often feel that my blog posts aren't interesting enough, witty enough or not good enough to publish. Sometimes I get really excited about a topic, start writing about it and then never publish the post because half way through writing it I suddenly feel that it's not worth it. So next time this happens, I'll remember Stephen's words and publish the post anyway.

Another lesson he is teaching in the book is to omit superfluous words. This piece of wisdom can be found in the second forword (out of three) where he is recommending the book "The Elements of Style". So I started using the Hemmingway Editor again to write my blog posts. It highlights words that you can exclude. And I should probably look up that book that he recommends.

The third tip that I want to highlight here is a skill Stephen learnt during his teenage years from a newspaper editor: always stick to the story that you want to tell. I often tend to enhance my blog posts with little half sentence side notes or remarks that are meant to be funny (yeah... don't judge). So I guess it would make the posts easier to read if I stuck to what I actually wanted to talk about.

Stephen King has been writing stories ever since he was ten or so. He sent the stories to sci-fi magazines in the hope that they would publish them. In return he collected a huge amount of rejection notices from those magazines. Until finally, after a few years, some of his stories were published. I guess the lesson here is: practise, practise, practise! Not a huge surprise there but still, it's always nice to see that it's not all about talent. So I better get writing more blog posts.

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