I’ll be as encouraging as possible, because it’s my nature and because I love this job. But if you don’t want to work your ass off, you have no business trying to write well – settle back into competency and be grateful you have even that much to fall back on.
This part of the book is hugely entertaining (King is very easy to read, and writes like a friendly mentor chatting to you over a beer), and absolutely packed with invaluable advice.
Two of the key points King makes are: King strongly believes in setting writing goals, and recommends a minimum of a thousand words a day, six days a week.
I tried following his advice (whilst working a full-time office job) and didn’t last long – you might prefer to set your own goal at five hundred words a day or even two hundred.
Sharon Johnson, in a review published by The Patriot-News, wrote that King survived his car accident "with his skill intact", calling King's advice "solid" and "an unexpected gift to writers and readers." Peter Sobczynski, a correspondent for the Post-Tribune, called the book "a fun, incisive read", specifically highlighting its emotional power: "In writing candidly and honestly about his recovery from a trauma that should have killed him, King has never been more affecting.
Obviously, it is a good thing he was able to survive and get back into shape on a physical and emotional level." Julie Woo for the Associated Press also called King's advice "solid", specifically about dialogue and plot.
Since King himself says he writes 2,000 words a day whilst working on a book, I suspect his advice is aimed at those aiming to make fiction writing their career (especially given his advice to read for four-six hours a day as well!
) King gives great advice on how to choose what genre to write in (one you read, and love), and how to create a “situation” for your story and write good description and dialogue.
The fifth and final section, "On Living: A Postscript", discusses the accident in 1999 in which King was struck by a van while walking down Maine State Route 5.
In the United Kingdom paperback version, a short story by Garret Adams entitled "Jumper" was included at the end of the book. In 2008, Entertainment Weekly listed On Writing 21st on their list of "The New Classics: Books – The 100 best reads from 1983 to 2008".