Stephen King’s Definition of Fear

          “I am convinced fear is at the root of all bad writing” Stephen King writes in his book “On Writing”.  The first question that came to my mind when I read that sentence was “how does he define fear?” 

          In his book he started out with a story about his uncle who needed to repair a broken window. Stephen and his brother brought their uncle’s heavy tool box to him, but all that their uncle needed was one tool. When Stephen asked why he needed to bring his uncle his entire tool box rather than the one tool his uncle replied, “because I didn’t know when I got here if there would be something else that needed to be done”. Stephen goes on to describe the writers ability to be like a tool box; the more used tools (the writers main vocabulary) are placed in the top bin, and other tools (such as use of conjunctions, adverbs, word phrasing, etc.) are placed in the drawers below.

             From my understanding, Stephen’s definition of fear being “… the root of all bad writing” is the writers incapability to bring all the necessary tools to a task that might be more demanding than expected. I must say that I strongly agree with him. From my high school writing experiences, I can say that fear, at times, has gotten the best of my writing. For example: during my senior year I had one essay left and it was on any topic of my choosing. I chose The Battle of Moscow in 1941. My previous year I had written another essay with a topic during World War II, however, the inaccurate information and inadequate organization my paper presented did not improve my grade. So, naturally, my main focus was making sure all my information was accurate and my organization understandable. After turning my paper in, my teacher made the comment that it was the best work that I ever given to her. She gave me a “C”. Why? Because I was so afraid of messing up a couple of errors that I forgot a simple, yet equally important task; using more lively words.

               Some writers are too afraid of not succeeding in one task that they forget about other ones that can be just as or more important than that one. Fearing about one issue in writing and then forgetting about another one is definitely an issue some writers struggle with, but if any writer comes prepared with their entire tool box, no matter how heavy, it is possible to write anything.



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