I just finished Stephen King's On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. I like reading about writer's creative process because it so clearly mirrors my own, and a lot of the advice is applicable to any creative pursuit. In addition, being writers, they are often more capable of articulating their ideas in a way I want to read them. I checked the book out of the library and have to return it sans the post it bookmarks that tag my favorite parts. Here are all the passages that I collected:  

"My wife made a crucial difference during those two years I spent teaching at Hampden (and washing sheets at the New Franklin Laundry during the summer vacation). If she had suggested that the time I spent writing stories on the front porch of our rented house on Pond Street or in the laundry room of our rented trailer on Klatt Road in Hermon was wasted time, I think a lot of the heart would have gone out of me. Tabby never voiced a single doubt, however. Her support was constant, one of the few good things I could take as a given. And whenever I see a first novel dedicated to a wife (or a husband), I smile and I think, There's someone who knows. Writing is a lonely job. Having someone who believes in you makes a lot of difference. They don't have to make speeches. Just believing is usually enough."

" ...now I'm going to tell you as much as I can about the job. As promised, it won't take long. 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."

"I'm convinced that fear is at the root of most bad writing. If one is writing for one own pleasure, that fear may be mild––timidity is the word I've used here. If, however, one is working under deadline––a school paper, a newspaper article, the SAT writing sample––that fear might be intense. Dumbo got airborne with the help of a magic feather; you might feel the urge to grasp a passive verb or one of those nasty adverbs for the same reason. Just remember before you do that Dumbo didn't need the feather; the magic was in him."

"It's also important to remember that no one is "the bad guy" or "the best friend" or "the whore with a heart of gold" in real life; in real life we each of us regard ourselves as the main character, the protagonist, the big cheese; the camera is on us, baby. If you can bring this attitude into your fiction, you may not find it easier to create brilliant characters, but it will be harder for you to create the sort of one-dimensional dopes that populate so much of pop fiction."

"...let me reiterate that it's all on the table, all up for grabs. Isn't that an intoxicating thought? I think it is. Try any goddam thing you like, no matter how boringly normal or outrageous. If it works, fine. If it doesn't, toss it. Toss it even if you love it. Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch once said, 'Murder your darlings,' and he was right."

"In truth, I've found that any day's routine interruptions and distractions don't much hurt a work in progress and may actually help it in some ways. It is, after all, the dab of grit that seeps into an oyster's shell that makes the pearl, not pearl-making seminars with other oysters."

"...if you can do it for joy, you can do it forever."

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


Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft