In one of my college writing classes, we used Stephen King's On Writing as our text book. I've been wanting to re-read it for a while. And in attempts to get inspired, I broke out the book and came across highlighted parts and folded pages.
After perusing through the chapters, I thought I'd share a couple of my favorite quotes.
If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There's no way around these two things that I'm aware of, no shortcut.
Stories aren't souvenir tee-shirts or Gameboys. Stories are relics, part of an undiscovered existing world. The writer's job is to use the tools in his or her toolbox to get as much of each one out of the ground intact as possible. Sometimes the fossil you uncover is small; a seashell. Sometimes it's enormous, a Tyrannosaurs Rex with all those gigantic ribs and grinning teeth. Either way, short story or thousand-page whopper of a novel, the techniques of excavation remain basically the same.
Some people don't want to hear the truth, of course, but that's not your problem. What would be is wanting to be a writer without wanting to shoot straight. Talk, whether ugly or beautiful, is an index of character; it can also be a breath of cool, refreshing air in a room some people would prefer to keep shut up. In the end, the important question has nothing to do with whether the talk in your story is sacred or profane; the only question is how it rings on the page and in the ear. If you expect it to ring true, then you must talk yourself. Even more important, you must shut up and listen to others talk.
Another one of my favorites is another book from college: Strunk and White's The Elements of Style. This book acts as a manual for all writers who are always aspiring to communicate more effectively. They walk you through various principles teaching you how to make every.word.count. I'm forever grateful for this style manual, 'cause this sista may be guilty of writing a run-on sentence (or 2). Buy it. You won't be disappointed.
Ever been inspired by your favorite book? I don't think I've ever been inspired by another book more than The Spear by Louis de Wohl. It's without a doubt my favorite book of all time. This is a book I would have never picked up on my own, but my husband told me about de Wohl's books in college; and he recommended The Spear. I fell in love. De Wohl crafts his stories, writes his dialogue, and describes his characters with a rhythm that makes the story irresistible and impossible to put down.
Last, but obviously not least, is Tina Fey's Bossypants. I look to this woman for inspiration in many things, but telling and crafting a story is at the top of the list. In Bossypants, Fey takes you through her youth and into adulthood with all her wit and self-deprecating humor along the way. She writes in a way that makes you feel like you're hearing anecdotes from your coolest aunt, bff, or older sister.