6 Books Every Creative Writer Should Own
by Writing Workshops Org Admin
3 months ago
I came to writing late and have always felt under-read. When I was starting out I didn't know where to start, how to nourish the deficiencies in my understanding of the craft of writing. The books below helped me write my way out of the wilderness and into a greater understanding of how to be a writer and to write the work that is most pressing to me. These are the six books on writing that I have held close over the years. I hope you'll find one or two of them as helpful as I did.
1. Best Book from a Master of the Craft
On Writing by Stephen King
King is known for his direct writing and expansive plots. This book tells you how he does it, from his early struggles to his eventual success. Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer’s craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have. It is also a super fun read.
2. Best Book to Help You Overcome Writing Fears
The Courage to Write by Ralph Keyes
This was the first book on writing I ever received. My dad gave it to me as a stocking stuffer and it changed my life, gave me permission to write and overcome the anxiety I felt about what people would think of my work. Keyes offers specifics on how to root out dread of public "performance" and of the judgment of family and friends, make the best use of writers' workshops and conferences, and handle criticism of works in progress.
3. Best Book to Help You Live the Writing Life
The Writing Life by Annie Dillard
This book will help you feel less alone even as you find yourself in the dark, staring at the blank page wondering if your work even matters. In this collection of short essays, Dillard illuminates the dedication, absurdity, and daring that characterize the existence of a writer. A moving account of Dillard’s own experience, The Writing Life offers deep insight into one of the most mysterious professions.
4. Best Book to Help You Get from Point A to Point B
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
When I first started writing I thought I had to have the entire story mapped and figured out. I didn't understand that you can trust yourself not to know. Lamott taught me that I could let the story develop in front of me, writing only what I see one Polaroid picture at a time. In this way the pages, and indeed the story itself, start to gather into something meaningful one page at a time.
5. Best Collection of Writing Essays
Thrill Me by Benjamin Percy
Too often writing is grouped unfairly into camps: it is either literary or genre. In this book, Percy implores us to prize the sentence and the story. He challenges the notion that literary and genre fiction are somehow mutually exclusive. In fifteen essays on the craft of fiction, Percy looks to disparate sources such as Jaws, Blood Meridian, and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo to discover how contemporary writers engage issues of plot, suspense, momentum, and the speculative, as well as character, setting, and dialogue.
6. Best Book for Beginners
Ron Carlson Writes a Story by Ron Carlson
This slim book presents three simple concepts that every writer needs to master, and Carlson provides a clear-eyed explanation of each one: Inner Story, Outer Story, and Inventory. Mastering these three concepts will change the way you write.
Here is a list of great books on the craft of writing you can check out:
- "The Art of Memoir" by Mary Karr
- "The Forest for the Trees: An Editor's Advice to Writers" by Betsy Lerner
- "The Writer's Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers" by Christopher Vogler
- "The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles" by Steven Pressfield
- "Self-Editing for Fiction Writers" by Renni Browne and Dave King
- "Story: Substance, Structure, Style, and the Principles of Screenwriting" by Robert McKee
- "Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within" by Natalie Goldberg
- "The Writer's Circle: Using Writing Circles to Help Students Improve Their Writing Skills" by C. M. Millen
- "Writing the Memoir: From Truth to Art" by Judith Barrington
- "The Memoir Project: A Thoroughly Non-Standardized Text for Writing & Life" by Marion Roach Smith
- "Your Life as Story: Discovering the "New Autobiography" and Writing Memoir as Literature" by Tristine Rainer
- "The Memoir Workbook: How to Write Your Life Story" by Katherine Hutton
- "The Memoir Handbook: A Practical Guide to Writing Your Life Story" by Linda Joy Myers
- "The Writer's Memoir: Exploring the Transformative Power of Personal Storytelling" by Carol Bly
- "Writing Memoir: The Practical Guide to Writing and Publishing the Story of Your Life" by Sage Cohen
As a student of writing, one of the best ways to improve your writing skills is to supplement your reading diet with books about creative writing. These books can be incredibly helpful for learning new techniques, getting feedback on your work, and gaining inspiration for your own writing.
There are many different books on creative writing available, so it can be helpful to start by looking for ones that focus on the specific type of writing you are interested in, such as fiction, poetry, memoir or screenwriting. Some books offer general advice on the writing process, while others provide more specific guidance on topics such as character development, plotting, and dialogue.
In addition to reading books on creative writing, it can also be helpful to take a creative writing class or workshop. These classes can provide a structured environment for you to practice your writing and receive feedback from instructors and peers. Many colleges and universities offer creative writing classes, and there are also many online options available.
As you read and study creative writing, be sure to take notes and try out the techniques and exercises you learn about. The more you practice, the better you will become at crafting compelling stories and characters. Don't be afraid to experiment with different styles and approaches – this is an important part of the learning process.
Overall, books on creative writing can be a valuable resource for writers looking to improve their craft and become more confident, accomplished writers. So if you are interested in taking your writing to the next level, consider picking up a few books on the subject and see how they can help you grow as a writer.