When writing, The Stand (published in 1978) - a hugely famous dark fantasy novel in King's repertoire about a pandemic powered by a weaponized version of the flu (does this sound relevant?) - King struggled to continue after reaching the 500 page mark.
Here is a list of the best pieces of advice to remember when feeling suck, downtrodden, or struggling with your writing. From writers, for writers, these five quotes will help you defeat writer's block.
Impressed by feats of literary excellence? Well, check out this list of some of the most intensely prolific authors to date!
Writing a novel is a traumatic experience. Experts agree that the process happens in five distinct stages.
1. Denial and Isolation
“Writing, at its best, is a lonely life… For he does his work alone and if he is a good enough writer he must face eternity, or the lack of it, each day.”
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The writer secludes herself from society. The writer tries to write. She puts words on a page. So many words, yet still too few. It’s common at this beginning stage for the writer to attempt to rationalize why she isn’t writing more. There’s just not enough time in the day or she needed to binge watch the latest Netflix show. The writer lies to herself but she cannot lie to her novel. It sits there, on the screen or typewriter, unfinished. Until one fateful day it is finished.
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
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It’s garbage. The manuscript is complete garbage. The writer knows he is a hack, a wannabee, a good-for-nothing. The writer gets mad. He tantrums. He throws things. His favorite mug is broken. Now he cannot drink coffee. He shoves his manuscript through a paper shredder. The writer lashes out at friends and family for never supporting his dreams. The writer’s father tells him he should do something practical instead of writing a damn book. The writer fumes.
“Kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.”
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The writer painstakingly reassembles the shreds of paper. Maybe if she rewrote the beginning, middle, and end of her novel it could be good. She secretly prays to a higher authorial power to bestow her manuscript with the spark of genius that she so desperately wishes to possess. The writer makes a few edits, changes her mind, and tries to undo what has already been undone. She tries to save a chapter that she absolutely loves but hurts the story. It’s too late. It’s already gone.
Rejection slips, or form letters, however tactfully phrased, are lacerations of the soul, if not quite inventions of the devil – but there is no way around them.”
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Sadness. The rejection letters piling up are longer than the manuscript itself. The writer sits at home, more alone than ever, and writes query letter after query letter. Nobody wants his novel. He mopes around the house and thinks about self-publishing. There doesn’t seem to be an end in sight.
“Nothing stinks like a pile of unpublished writing.”
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The sad aspect of this stage is that not every writer gets to this point. An editor or agent somewhere has seen a hint of potential in the manuscript. It has been accepted for publication. The writer is going to get published. The writer is at peace.
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Whether you’re an aspiring writer, an avid reader, or none of the above you can’t help but admit the power and influence the written word has on us all. Writing can be cathartic, informative, distracting, devastating, connecting, and everything in-between.
I love writing and words and all the ways in which they can effect our lives so much (seriously) that I’m at a complete and total loss for them right now.
So, I’m just going to let these fifteen quotes from famous authors do the rest of the talking.
“If I waited for perfection…I would never write a word.” —Margaret Atwood
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” —Maya Angelou
“I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear.” —Joan Didion
“Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.”—Virginia Woolf
“Who wants to become a writer? And why? Because it’s the answer to everything. … It’s the streaming reason for living. To note, to pin down, to build up, to create, to be astonished at nothing, to cherish the oddities, to let nothing go down the drain, to make something, to make a great flower out of life, even if it’s a cactus.” —Enid Bagnold
“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.” —Anaïs Nin
“And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” —Sylvia Plath
“When I’m writing I know I’m doing the thing I was born to do.” —Anne Sexton
“I am writing all this down in blue ink, so as to remember that all words, not just some, are written in water.” —Maggie Nelson
“In the diary you find proof that in situations which today would seem unbearable, you lived, looked around and wrote down observations, that this right hand moved then as it does today.” —Franz Kafka
“A person who writes a book willfully appears before the populace with his pants down.” —Edna St. Vincent Millay
“Read, read, read. Read everything — trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it. Then write. If it’s good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out of the window.” —William Faulkner
“Who am I? I’m just a writer. I write things down. I walk through your dreams and invent the future. Sure, I sink the boat of love, but that comes later. And yes, I swallow glass, but that comes later.” —Richard Siken
“Not all poetry wants to be storytelling. And not all storytelling wants to be poetry. But great storytellers and great poets share something in common: They had something to say, and did.” —Sarah Kay
“The secret to being a writer is that you have to write. It’s not enough to think about writing or to study literature or plan a future life as an author. You really have to lock yourself away, alone, and get to work.” —Augusten Burroughs
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