You Should Know What Stephen King did with the first three pages of his novel “Carrie”

Abdul Kader
New Writers Welcome
4 min readOct 11, 2021

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Stephen King is an award-winning American author.

He is the Undisputed King of the horror genre. He has some of the best horror, supernatural fiction, suspense, crime, science-fiction, and fantasy novels to his credit. His books have sold over 350 million copies to date.

Many of his books were adapted into films, Tele-vision series & comics.

He has written 56 novels under his name Stephen King & 7 under the pen name Richard Bachman. He has 5 non-fiction books and 200 short stories under his name.

To date, no other fiction writer has achieved the same level of popularity and success as Stephen King. He has millions of die-hard fans around the world. If you love fiction, his books are hard to ignore.

We all know how successful he is. But we aren’t aware of his struggles. How his first three novels never got published. How his inner-critic stopped him from finishing his fourth novel. There are many such stories about him.

One of which caught my eye is about his novel “Carrie.”

Stephen King worked as a teacher at Hampden Academy in Hampden, Maine. In the daytime, he would teach students and spent the rest of the day writing short stories and ideating for his novels. At the time he was living in a trailer with his wife Tabitha, also an author. He used his wife’s portable typewriter to write.

His first three novels were Rage, The Long Walk & Blaze. Unfortunately, all three of them never saw the light of the day.

Stephen never thought about writing his fourth novel at all. Instead, he began writing a short story for a magazine. After writing the first three pages, Stephen tossed it in the dustbin as the story didn’t move him emotionally.

While cleaning the stuff, his wife discovered the pages soaked in the cigarette ashes. She loved it and thought of it as something worth publishing. She further encouraged Stephen to continue the story and finish it, as she was damn sure of its success. She even offered to help him with the female perspective as the story was about a high-school girl gifted with telekinetic power.

Stephen followed her advice and started working on the story. He expanded the short story into a full novel, “Carrie.”

Destiny proved Tabitha right. The publication house Doubleday accepted Carrie & paid an advance of $2500 for publishing it. Carrie was Stephen King’s fourth novel but the first one to be published. The paperback rights were sold for a whopping $4,00,000.

And the rest is history.

Carrie got Stephen both fame and money. And he went on to become one of the greatest fiction writers of all time.

As writers, we screw up by surrendering to our inner critic. Even a popular writer like Stephen King did the same. He gave up after writing the first three pages thinking of it as the world’s all-time loser. He persisted with it only after his wife encouraged him. He was also running out of ideas so decided to give it a try. As a result, he finished his fourth novel and his first one to be published. If his wife didn’t discover the first three pages and encouraged him to continue, Carrie would never have come into existence. And who knows the world would never have come to know about Stephen King.

Four Lessons writers can learn from this.

Lesson 1

Never pay heed to your inner critic. Always believe in your work. Don’t be harsh on your own writing. What may seem ordinary to you might be gold to your reader. You never know which piece of yours would be viral. So, just write but don’t judge. Let your audience judge it for you.

Lesson 2

All you need is just one reader to believe in your work. If not for his wife, Stephen King’s novel “Carrie” would never have seen the light of the day. Tabitha was Stephen’s first reader. She believed in Stephen’s work more than Stephen himself. She encouraged him to continue with the story. It doesn’t matter how many people will read your work. You don’t need millions of readers. Only a few are sufficient. And sometimes you only need one reader, just like Stephen’s wife Tabitha.

Lesson 3

Hit the publish button without thinking twice. Fear of judgment, your inner critic, or imposter syndrome might stop you from publishing your own content.

Every writer goes through this. We write an article but it keeps lying in our doc file. And it sleeps there for months. Just because you think it’s not worth publishing. As you don’t want people to see it. Do you think people will slam it and crown it as a piece of shit. If you don’t publish your work, you’ll never grow as a writer. You will be writing for your ownself. Online writing is all about publishing.

It’s about the reader. How you entertain or solve your reader’s problems. So, just write and publish. Repeat.

Lesson 4

There might be a time where you will run out of new ideas. You may simply stare at the blank screen waiting for a new idea to pop up. But it never arrives and you never begin. So, instead of generating new ideas & creating new stuff, go back to old unfinished stuff that is lying in your docs waiting for the final touches. Just like Stephen King continued working on his fourth novel Carrie, even though he outright rejected it.

P.S. “Sometimes you have to go on when you don’t feel like it, and sometimes you’re doing good work when it feels like all you’re managing is to shovel shit from a sitting position.” — Stephen King

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Abdul Kader
New Writers Welcome

Writer | Helping you fix your emotional problems & accelerate your personal growth.