Apparently, the entire Stephen King industry was spawned by a daydream about naked teenage girls in the shower, pelting another girl with tampons. And there’s a great lesson in that: a creative writer can’t censor himself–more than that, he has to pay close attention to his own imaginings and memories without shame, has to go beyond that and take those imaginings and memories seriously as the possible basis for an entire novel. Stephen King’s slightly perverse little daydream turned out to be worth several hundred million dollars. Daydreams about naked girls: there’s gold in them thar hills. But writers of every stripe, not only commercially oriented ones, should check this book out.

“I’m convinced that fear is at the root of most bad writing,” says Stephen King. True dat. A practical, unpretentious, useful guide to writing and a well-written, entertaining, sometimes moving memoir of the writing life all-in-one. It includes one of the best accounts around of a writer’s imaginative process, illustrated with a fantastic case study of how King came up with the idea for his first novel, Carrie. (It involves aforementioned naked girls and tampons.)