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Best Books for Creative Writers
One of the most crucial exercises for a writer's life is to read. Read books that inspire you, thrill you, sadden you, and move you. It might also help to read books that sharpen you, your craft, and your pencil.
The following five books are ones that I've read personally and couldn't imagine not having on my shelf. I reach for them almost daily, looking within their pages for nuggets of inspiration and help. Two of them are philosophical and the other three are practical. Together they make up my "Bible" of writing.
I realize there are hundreds of books on writing- many of which I haven't yet experienced. This list isn't meant to be comprehensive.
THE WRITING LIFE
The first thing I noticed about this book- it's simplicity.
I love books that spell out profound truths using 5 word sentences and simple prose. Annie Dillard does this perfectly. A great combination of inspiration and practical truth, she weaves her anecdotes throughout the book and you are mesmerized by what she says and how she writes it.
She teaches you her method by writing beautifully.
It's the kind of book you inhale. It doesn't have a table of contents or chapter titles. It's mainly philosophical and abstract. I tend towards the "practical" type of books, but I recognize the need to immerse myself in writing that is vastly different from my own.
The Writing Life lives and breathes writing in a way that will leave you touched.
SPUNK AND BITE
The title immediately draws you in. Author Arthur Plotnik takes the reader on an exploration of surprise and unpredictability. His book too is a strange combination of philosophy and exercise.
He includes quirky side blurbs that entice the reader to participate in his spunky choice of words. He talks about creating words, using fragments, surprise, extreme expression, and other grammar rabbit trails that color your writing.
At the end of the book he includes 10 pages of writing exercises. Here is an example to tantalize your taste buds for his book.
Go for a surprise. Write two sentences that end a series of grand items with an unexpected, trivial item. For example, "I ask for peace, prosperity, and a toasted bagel."
A WRITER'S BOOK OF DAYS
This is a practical day to day book for writers who crave some order and routine in their day. It is divided up month by month so you can follow along with the lessons throughout the year. Each chapter is about 30 pages and covers about 11 different topics.
Sprinkled throughout the chapters are 365 writing prompts- one for each day of the year. Quotes and excerpts from famous writers are also included.
It doesn't have the same romantic prose as the above books, but that is okay. As a daily companion, it works marvelously to keep me on track and in my notebook.
WRITING DOWN TO THE BONES
The first time I picked up this book, I cried. Natalie cut through all the insecurity, all the self-doubt, and all the critical editorializing and grabbed me by the soul.
She writes so simply you cannot imagine how she made it sound so...poetic. The chapters are short, but full of advice, comfort, support, exercises, and wisdom. Even if you aren't a writer, reading her book may make you want to become one.
This book is conceptual yes, but I read it every day. Just a chapter a day. It is like she is in the room with you, nudging you to carry on and not write harder, but deeper.
THE EMOTION THESAURUS
This is the last book I've included in my Bible of writing. It is not a "how-to" book. It is not an abstract writing life book. It is a reference book.
For experienced writers, they may not see a need to have an emotion thesaurus. But I find it so helpful and inspirational.
The book is divided up by emotions. Listed in alphabetical order, you can search through the book for the emotion you are trying to describe. For example, adoration.
On the page, authors Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi give you the definition of the word, a list of physical signals, internal sensations, mental responses, cues that lead to more extreme emotion (with cross-referenced page numbers) and a tip.
This book is perfect for the writer who is trying to avoid cliche, repetition, or just needs a little help with dialogue and description.
Other helpful writing articles
- How to Easily Write a Book
The A-Z guide to writing and publishing a book. The options can be overwhelming to a new writer, so I've written this article as a roadmap for beginning writers who want a simple and concrete way to go from concept to published.
- Keeping a Journal- Morning Writing for Writers
Step by step instructions for writers who want to learn the art of journaling as a way to inspire great work.
- Develop a Writing Plan
Are you a writer with a plan? This article goes through the ins and outs of developing a writing plan, and why it is important to do so- even if you are the right brained creative type.
What have I learned from these books?
- Writers need a daily dose of inspiration.
- Writers need a daily kick in the pants.
- Writers need structure.
- Writers need freedom.
- Writers need to break free from their comfort zone and explore the unknown.
- Writers need to write with pen and paper too.
If you haven't read these five books yet, I suggest you do!
I would love to continue this discussion...
Are you a writer? If so, what books do you have in your writing library that you cannot live without? Please let me know in the comments!