I’ve read dozens of books on writing and creativity. I try to steer clear of the ones that say – Ten EASY steps to become a writer overnight instantly! – because that’s a lie. Writing a book is anything but easy, is not finished overnight or instantly done. It’s a progression sometimes a painstakingly slow one.
Thus, below, I’d like to share a few books that have helped me in my journey as a writer, ones that I personally own and have earmarked. If you have any that have changed your perspective, made things clearer, or helped significantly in your writing quest, please share them in the comment section below.
Also, keep a special eye out for next Tuesday’s post where we will reveal the date, time, and location of Jot V!
- The Art of War For Writers by James Scott Bell. Why? It takes a handful of minutes to read a daily entry and does not cut into writing time. It’s like a daily devotional for the writer with tips, tricks, and kicks in the pants.
- Zen in the Art of Writing by the late Ray Bradbury. Why? Because in his words I feel his gusto, how he cares for his work and how he burns with a desire for good fiction. In the age of hacks, it’s great to read about passion for the craft and not about ways to make money.
- Revision and Self-Editing For Publication by James Scott Bell. Why? I constantly need to revise. Also I believe Mr Bell writes with clarity rather than a lecturish tone and is a successful novelist.
- How to Grow a Novel by Sol Stein. Why? Because he’s done it all. Mr. Stein’s been an editor, he’s written novels, and is a writing instructor so he knows his stuff from behind the desk, at the desk, and at the podium. Also, it’s based on a successful writing class so it’s like taking a free writing course.
- The Art of Fiction by John Gardner. Why? Mr. Gardner has great information to share but also, my personal favorite, superb writer exercises. One is, describe a sunset from the point of view of a woman who just murdered her alcoholic and abusive husband. Disturbing? Yes. But it’s stepping away from the orphan boy, good wife, or brilliant scientist. He’s asking you to stretch and get uncomfortable. Writers must always grow.
- Conflict and Suspense by James Scott Bell. Disclaimer – No Mr. Bell is not paying me or holding a gun to my head. But this is what fiction novelists are trying to learn. How to create good characters and ratchet up the suspense and conflict in order to draw the reader in.
- The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. Why? This is not a book on writing so much as an expose on Resistance. This is the force that is calling you away or distracting your from your work. If you want to know why you cannot get your writing done, I’d start with this one.
- On Writing by Stephen King. Why? It’s his memoir of his early writing career. In it Mr. King realizes his drunkness was going to kill him or destroy his family, and also takes him from poor unknown to wealthy success. Who doesn’t like a good success story where one overcomes tremendous adversity?
- The Art of Work by Jeff Goins. Why? Goins is writing about work, calling, failing, and struggling. He was a person who always wanted to be a writer and now he’s on the New York Times list. It’s about the deeper questions of why you write and is a solid book for all of us dreamers.
- The Elements of Style by William Strunk and E.B. White. Why? The Quintessential book on craft, sentence structure, and grammar. I’ve read this book many times.
Thanks for reading. Again, please share your favorite writing books below.
We look forward to sharing the details of the fall edition of Jot next week!