I don’t know about the state of your inbox, dear writer, but every day I open mine, and there are about fifty emails from various book stores, publishing companies, and book bloggers recommending fantastic books. Some are great books about writing. Most are about my three biggest passions in life: cats, stationery products, and world domination. I know it gets noisy in the writerly-bookish corner of the internet—I love it—but it makes it difficult to weed through which books will help you grow best as a writer. For that reason, to cut through all the noise, I’m recommending only three of most absolutely-necessary books about writing that I think you should read right this second.
It’s summertime, guys—you know what that means??? You guessed it! Required Summer Reading! Whoooo!
“HA, ~no~,” says my inner-voice, an inner-voice that sounds perpetually like a twelve-year-old who’s not having it.
But for real. I hate summer reading. Not because I hate reading. But because I hate people telling me how to live my life. I read what I want, Mom, and also Lucky Charms is a perfectly nutritious breakfast/lunch/dinner combo #RespectMyChoices.
Since I hate when people tell me what to do, know that anytime I tell you to do something that it’s a super genuine recommendation and a freaking-fantastic idea. I’m not being a hypocrite. This is also true when I say things like, “you should read this right now, or the Dark Powers Below will rise and end the world using dark magic, fire, and drugstore makeup products.” It’s coming from a place of love, dear writer. Anyway. I’m sharing these three books about writing with you today because they changed my life. For real. They lift me up, carry me above my writing fears, creative doubts, and the rooftops, and then they set me back down on the path of dominating as a writer. Reading these books about writing is like listening to the song, “I Believe I Can Fly” on a loop for all eternity. I think they will help you too.
*This post contains affiliate links (find out more here). As always, know that whenever I share a writing app or product in a blog post, it’s because I use it, love it, and think it could benefit you on your writing journey.
The best books about writing
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
by Stephen King
With over 50 novels (many that are now movies and TV series), six non-fiction books, hundreds of short stories, and numerous literary prizes, it’s obvious that Stephen King knows what he’s doing. In On Writing: A Memoir Of The Craft, he shares his experiences as a writer, the events in his life that shaped and influenced his writing, and dishes out some phenomenal advice to aspiring writers.
Paging through my copy of On Writing to find the ~perfect~ quote took ages. Not because there were no good quotes, but because there are so many pieces of essential advice here—I struggled to find just one. It also took long because my book is literally falling apart at the spine. I’ve reread this book so often that every time I open it, it’s like I need to be as focused and careful as someone diffusing a bomb. Pages exploding and falling out all over the place and in my face. Paper cuts hurt, yo.
“Description begins in the writer’s imagination, but should finish in the reader’s.”
“Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well. It’s about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy.”
“Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.”
Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within
by Natalie Goldberg
This is one of those books about writing that is just as valuable to people ~thinking~ about writing down that idea for a story they had as it is for those who have written five drafts of a novel.
To get an idea of the type of person this book will best help, here are two separate places I’ve come across it:
I first used this book as a textbook in a writing-creative-thought-processing elective I took during my freshman year at high school. The class itself was one of those filler-type-classes where none of the admins or teachers seemed to know what to do with it. My friends and I scrambled to sign up for it because the teacher was chill and we heard that we’d be guaranteed an “A” just for showing up. I loved this book when I first read it for its simple, clear, and motivational tone. It made me feel like I could conquer the world even though I knew nothing about writing.
The second time I ran into this book was during a creative writing class in college—when we were all “seasoned and serious writers.” 😂😂
More like arrogant and long-winded and definitely NOT thick-skinned. Anyway, that was the second time I read Writing Down the Bones, and I loved it just as much. If anything, it inspired and motivated me more the second time reading it through. It’s one of those books about writing that get better the more you read it.
“Play around. Dive into absurdity and write. Take chances. You will succeed if you are fearless of failure.”
“It is odd that we never question the feasibility of a football team practicing long hours for one game; yet in writing we rarely give ourselves the space for practice.”
“If you are not afraid of the voices inside you, you will not fear the critics outside you. Besides, those voices are merely guardians and demons protecting the real treasure, the first thoughts of the mind.”
I know no one likes to read rule books and manuals. Dude, I once tried to build a hide-away-secret bookcase without the manual (I don’t recommend it. I failed). I HATE reading rule books and manuals. But this book—this tiny, pocket-sized book—is the best grammar reference book ever.
Obviously, we only make rules so we can break them. Writing rules especially. However, you need to understand the rules before you break them. Trust me, your readers can tell the difference between a rule you broke on purpose and one broken out of ignorance. Your readers are smart, dear writer, don’t insult their intelligence by dismissing the foundation of written words and calling it “art” because you didn’t want to take the time to learn.
The best part about it all is that this book costs the same as a medium cup of coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts. Do yourself a favor and check it out. You have all the grammar and English language writing rules at your fingertips for the same amount of money as a cup of coffee. What more do you need?
While I believe this book is the bomb, I won’t bore you to death with quotes about commonly misspelled words and misused expressions 😉 .
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There you have it! These are my three favorite books about writing. These were the books I turn to when my writing collapses all around me. They also make me feel like I can succeed as a writer.
ROUND UP: Here are the links to the books if you missed them earlier!
On Writing: A Memoir Of The Craft by Stephen King
What are your favorite books about writing? Let us know about them in the comment section!