Lessons Learned from Stephen (and Tabitha) King

Colleen Markley
Writers Guild
Published in
5 min readJul 19, 2019

Inside My Writing Head, Again

I haven’t been writing much in the blog department while I’ve been writing my novel. The great, American, elusive, kick my butt novel. This writing thing is funny, because I love the short form immediate-gratification of blog, post, hear responses, see applause, collect some actual writing money (my last monthly payout from Medium’s Partner Program was a whopping $3.23), but every moment I spend on that is time that I am not writing The Book, and that is exactly the kind of thing I’m trying to eliminate right now. It’s all distraction.

I’m trying to eliminate a lot of distraction, but still find fuel to keep going.

I’m working to maintain the daily (yes, daily) routine of word count (it’s all about the word count), fueling my spirit with inspiration (woo woo kumbaya motivational talks as well as books and articles about writing), engaging my brain and intellect (podcasts and audiobooks in the car), all with a balance of the other parts of life that connect me to people (hello all volunteer work). Writing is solitary and lonely, except for my characters I have created in my head. When the writing is going well they live and breathe as much as anyone.

Stephen King (one of my favorite writers, and also the reason that to this day I cannot descend basement stairs unless the light is on, thank you crafty vampires from Salem’s Lot) in his nonfiction book On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, wrote about setting up space with a closed door to write. Write every day. 1000 words to start (he is prolific and writes 2000 daily). I muster 500 a day in my space with no door (sometimes I push my big white board with my ideas scribbled in orange dry erase marker in front of the open doorway) and then empty the dishwasher while my protagonist taps her fingers on the kitchen counter waiting for me to finish the mundane parts of life that are still my responsibility. “I need a break anyway,” I tell her, and bang the plastic Tupperware lid on the counter to get rid of the droplets of water before I put it away, mostly dried.

“Can’t your kids do that?” She asks me, examining her fingernails as she waits for me to put the utensils away. Whoever loaded the…

Colleen Markley
Writers Guild

Award-winning writer. Writing Instructor. (#amquerying a novel about the end of the world where only the women survive). www.ColleenMarkley.com