10 Books Every Writer Should Own

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!

  1. 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.
  1. IMG_0566Zen 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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?
  1. 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.
  1. 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!

Interview With Christy Award Winning Author & Jot Keynote Tracy Groot

jotJot is ONE day away! The Weaklings are excited. The presenters are as well. I hope you are giddy with excitement too. Where else can you rub shoulders with other writers, drink copious amounts of great coffee in an amazing bookstore, and get spectacular advice from publishing professionals all for FREE?!?! (There should be about a billion more exclamation points).

Christy Award winning author Tracy Groot is our keynote speaker for this installment of Jot. The Weaklings are thrilled that she agreed to join us. She wants to share on the topic of pop lit, but more than that, she wants to have a discussion and throw around ideas on what makes a great pop-lit book. I hope you come ready to join in the discussion. Below, I’ve asked her a few questions to help Jot attendees get to know her a little better.

1. Tracy, tell a little bit about yourself and what authors or subjects influence your writing.

Part One: I’m a mom, a writer, and a coffee shop owner. My first paid writing gig was radio commercials. Then I wrote a few YA mystery adventure novels, published in the mid-nineties. I’ve done some ghost writing and some screenplay work and some historical fiction. Latest book is The Sentinels of Andersonvillea Civil War novel about the notorious Andersonville Prison in Georgia. Currently working on a WWII historical fiction novel about the rescue of the entire British Army at Dunkirk. Part Two: The current author I happen to be reading usually influences my writing. But my faves include Dickens, Steinbeck, Patrick O’Brian, oh, don’t get me started. Any subject at all can influence my writing: I’m pretty eclectic in my interests. 

2. Pop lit can be a slippery term. How would you define it?

I have to tell you that I think I see my session as more of an exploration of pop lit, then a exposition of it, since it was a subject that intrigued me; I plan to start off with only rudimentary ideas that I think a pop-lit book would possess, and then open it up for discussion

3. What are a few practical techniques a pre-published writer could practice to make their writing more literary?

Here are some springboard elements I think a pop-lit book would have: 

  • A killer first line
  • A killer first page
  • Action, action, action
  • But not TOO much action
  • Lovely little details
  • Stuff to think about

4.What are a few practical techniques a pre-published writer could practice to make their writing more literary?

This is a long-haul answer, but I think the most important thing a writer can do to write literary is to read literary. “Tis the good reader that makes the good book.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson. And read poetry. 

5. There are a lot of books that offer advice on how to write a book. What book or books do you suggest the growing novelist should read to help them become a well-rounded writer?

My favorite writing books so far: The Art of War for Writers, by James Scott Bell. Zen in the Art of Writing, by Ray Bradbury. On Writing, by Stephen King. Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott. Write Tight, by William Brohaugh. Plot, by Ansen Dibell. I’m currently reading The Art of Spiritual Writing, by Vinita Hampton-Wright, and I’m enjoying it. I’d say my two faves are the first two mentioned. 

Thank you Tracy!

You can learn more about Tracy and her journey into the world of words HERE

You can see all of her books (and buy some!) HERE

Jotters, be sure to thank our excellent presenters. They gave this time and energy for free. Not one asked for any form of compensation. Each person was thrilled to be a part of this experience and I hope you learn a lot, meet a lot of writers, and get some time to put words on the page.

See you all tomorrow!