#093: 7 Lessons From Stephen King [Podcast]

Stephen King. He is the Charles Dickens of this century. People either love him or hate him.

stephen-king

stephen-king

My churchgoing friends are often shocked to learn that I read his work, and admire it. In today’s show I share some business lessons I have learned from King. Also on today’s episode…

  • Are you a Madman? Or a Madwoman? Copywriters wanted.
  • And the always award-winning, much much more.

Announcements:

  • I am updating my copywriting course… I will announce our winners next week.
  • Next week’s show will be about what could be the most important topic I have ever covered.  Don’t miss it.

Conferences where I will be attending and/or speaking:

Tip Of The Week – Again!

Digital Photography School. A great site for all things photo.

Spiritual Foundations

1 John 4:18: “perfect love casts out fear.”.

Have you ever been told by someone that you should have more of the “fear of the Lord”? The implication is that your Christian walk cannot be correct unless you’re constantly afraid that God is going to “whack you” when you screw up.

It’s true, The Bible talks about the “fear of the Lord”. Let’s take a look at what it actually says.

As believers who live under the new covenant, and followers of Jesus, we should let Jesus himself define what the “fear of the Lord” actually is. When the devil tempted Jesus in the desert, and asked Jesus to worship him, Jesus says, “it is written, you shall worship the Lord your God…”. You’ll find that in Matthew 4:10.

If you have a modern Bible with cross references, you’ll notice that Jesus is actually quoting from the Old Testament. He’s quoting his favorite book of the Bible (the book he quoted most often), and the passage he’s pointing to is Deuteronomy 6:13. That passage says, “you shall fear the Lord your God and serve him.

But wait a minute! That’s not what Jesus said… He said you shall WORSHIP the Lord your God. What’s going on here?

While there are plenty of theologians who will argue with me, it seems clear that Jesus is explaining what the passage in Deuteronomy actually means. To fear God is to worship him.

I trust the theology of Jesus more than I trust any other earthly theologian. He has interpreted the “fear of the Lord” for me, and that settles the matter.

One last point worth noting: every single time the disciples were afraid of Jesus, he said the same thing. “Fear not.”

Seven Lessons From Stephen King

Stephen King is a writing and marketing machine, having accomplished the unusual feat of being successful as a craftsman, and as an entrepreneur.  He has sold well over 350 million books, and spawned countless movies and television shows. His latest novel-to-screen adaptation is Under The Dome. How?

I have written extensively elsewhere about writing for the purpose of strategic influence. I can point to no better model of how to do this right than King.

There are seven key lessons you can learn from Stephen King, and the way he conducts his business (the business of writing). And for those of you who are offended by my saying “the business of writing”… perhaps if you thought about your writing as a business, you wouldn’t be so easily offended. Food for thought.

  1. Learn your craft. Whether his subject matter is always to your taste or not, you would have to be willfully ignorant to declare Stephen King anything other than a master of the art of writing stories. He has honed his craft to a fine edge, and without this particular weapon in his arsenal, the rest of what you’re about to read would not be possible. You must master the craft.
  2. Be prolific. King has stated that he writes every day, including his birthday and Christmas day. He has since admitted that this might be a bit of an exaggeration, but not much. His ethic of working every day is plainly demonstrated by his amazing output. You don’t publish 50 novels,  five nonfiction works, and over 200 short stories by goofing off.  you do it by applying liberal amounts of fingers to keyboard.
  3. Be real. One reason people are often uncomfortable with King’s writing is that he tends to bring heavy doses of reality into his stories. I’m not talking about the vampires, giant spiders, and ghosts, of course. I’m talking about the sometimes embarrassing, sometimes offensive, sometimes infuriatingly irrational ways that people talk and behave. King unabashedly presents people as they really are. And this makes his detractors uncomfortable… And his fans love him.
  4. Have a personality. When King began his career, he decided to be exactly who he is. I have no way of knowing this, but I’m pretty certain this was a conscious decision made in the full knowledge that it might backfire financially. He could have been more “respectable” by writing that vaguely named thing called “literary fiction”, but instead he chose to write what fascinated him.
  5. Be fearless. Stephen King has never shied away from the potential criticism he might get from atheists, believers, Democrats, Republicans, or  the League of Decency. He’s written some ugly scenes, and seems that many writers would have shied away from because they didn’t want to be associated with that material. For better or worse, that fearlessness has catapulted him from the mass of mediocrity to the pinnacle of literary success.
  6. Try new things. King was one of the first to take advantage of the digital publishing medium. He was one of the first to publish a novel in serial form online. He has branched out into music, comic books, and of course films and television. Some of his experiments have fallen flat. Others have been a meteoric success, both critically and financially (remember Stand by Me and The Green Mile?)
  7. Do many things simultaneously. One of the ways King manages to stay so prolific is that he is doing many things simultaneously. He’s always working on a new book or story, and usually has more than one project cooking in the background (a movie, a TV series, and audiobook, or the radio stations that he owns in Maine).

While you may or may not ever be his equal on the bestseller lists (he has a pretty strong head start on most of us), you definitely can learn from the career and methodologies of Stephen King.

Question: what have you learned about writing, or the business of writing, from Stephen King… Or any other modern writers? Share below…

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8 thoughts on “#093: 7 Lessons From Stephen King [Podcast]

  1. I have read many of Stephen King’s books. I didn’t like it all.

    Some books were exiting and others a little boring.

    What I have always admired in King is his consistency and the quality of his writing.

    Even if he has published more than 50 novels and a lot of other works his style is always evolving and improving.

    His secret is reading and writing every day. He writes 2000 words a day which means 730,000 words a year. This is consistency.

    I’m going to read his book On Writing which is considered the bible for those who want to learn how to write and you also mentioned many times.

    I hope it will instill in me a bit of his consistency.

  2. I love to read CS Lewis. Two of my favorites are “The Screwtape Letters” and “The Chronicles of Narnia”. What I have learned from CS Lewis:
    1. When you tell an engaging story, people are much more likely to hear, accept, and remember your message.
    2. You can address some complex themes when you use story as the conduit.
    3. If you do it properly, you can teach both adults and children alike when you write for children.
    4. Humor will often help people to see truth about themselves that they might not otherwise see.

    By the way, although many of Stephen King’s books are too frightening for me, I did love watching “The Shawshank Redemption” and “The Green Mile”.

  3. Love you show, Ray.

    Point 7 really resonated with me. I find working on multiple things simultaneously helps when you get stuck or have a mental block in one area. Then at least it feels like you’re making progress in other areas!

    Recently one of my websites crashed, but instead of going crazy, I was able to keep working on my other site while the first one was restored. As the saying goes: don’t keep all your eggs in one basket!