I’m going to let ya’ll know, right off the top, that I have a particular and everlasting love of this book. I’ve reread it probably three times now, which is more than most other books, especially considering it’s a nonfiction (I don’t think I’ve ever gone back and reread a nonfiction book before).
The first time I read it was during my very first creative writing course. I was struggling, a lot, I’d hit a wall and I couldn’t seem to push through it. Nothing I was writing was good enough, even down to the sentence by sentence stuff, and I couldn’t seem to get anything on the page that I didn’t just immediately erase. If anybody that’s reading this has ever had that experience before, you know how defeating it can be. To have an idea that your insecurities, disguised as perfectionism, just won’t let you express. I talked to my teacher and he tried to guide me through it a bit, but when that didn’t work he lent me a copy of this book. I don’t know what it was about King’s writing, maybe it’s the matter of fact way that he talks about just putting shit down and editing it later, or the way that he lets you in to his life and the times when he’s had trouble getting back to writing, but it really helped get me over that hump.
The second time was another slump. I’d just gotten out of a bad relationship and I was having trouble getting things out again. I had ideas a plenty, but most of them seemed like hack trash. I was perusing a used bookstore, my normal pick me up activity when I’m feeling a little blue, and I came across this and remembered how much help it had been the last time so I picked it up. Again, even though I knew what was in the book this time, his steady hand and matter of fact explanations about the craft of writing, the bits and bolts of it, his assurance that you’re the only one hindering yourself when it comes to writing (but also, you should really never do this and this and this), really saw me through my slump.
Now it’s become my writing slump ritual. I feel sorry for myself for a week or two, I eat too many pastries and spend hours sifting through musty old book stores, and then I pick up this book, and read it, and remember that the only thing I need to do in order to write again is to want to.