Book Review: On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

TL;DR – part autobiography, part teachings & learnings, and all heart from one of the most prolific writers of our time.


To make a living as a writer, to excel at any profession, requires dedication, discipline and accepting the day-to-day grind. King seeks to tell stories of his own life in his journey to become a writer and published author. In addition, King provides examples, advice and practical tools for others who are seeking to undertake a similar journey and make a career out of writing.


On Writing was King’s first published work after he suffered an accident involving a van hitting him while walking along Maine State Route 5. It is testimony to his resilience even after acknowledging that there were periods after the accident where he thought he would never be able to write again. The retelling of this accident in his memoir radiates the struggle of putting into words an event that could have ended his life but also concludes with a catharsis that would eventually see him write (or co-write) and publish a further 25 novels (and counting). I secretly suspect that King is part-cyborg.

The memories and reflection are poignant and demonstrate a person who has given much to honing his craft. The numerous rejections he received when he first started putting pen to paper showed he was far from an overnight sensation. The life he had growing up with his brother and being raised only by his mother (their father left them when he was two) paint a picture that was full of adventure and colour but also many hard truths.

Combining these autobiographical elements, King delves into his craft and the tools every writer should have. For some aspiring writers who have read other books on writing, there may not be much new in what King reveals, but I believe for most there will be lessons worth being reminded of or are new to be picked up.

Overall, On Writing is not so much a masterclass as it is an inspirational read that should encourage any budding writer to keep up the good fight and enjoy the journey. This book is a worthy addition to any writer’s toolkit.

4.5 out of 5.

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