Whether you’re an aspiring writer or seasoned wordsmith, one thing that’s never in short supply — or demand — is inspiration. The muse. Luckily, there’s no shortage of inspiring thoughts or advice on “writing,” be it on various blogs or online sources, or, if you’re willing to dig a bit deeper, in copious heaps of books.
When it comes to the latter, you may ask yourself, “What are the best books on writing?” And to that there is no straightforward answer. Everyone, arguably, has a different response to this question. I know I’ve generated my own preference on a few “go-to” reads on this topic, but I’ve also read plenty of books I feel that actually hinder the creative process because they made me second guess myself — a gateway to self doubt, which walks a fine line with fear, and when combined the two can pose as the ultimate enemy to any form of creativity.
That said, my aim is not to say some books work and some don’t, I’m only listing a short selection of those I’ve found truly inspiring and helpful. If you want to find more suggestions, a simple Google search will yield dozens upon dozens of recommendations beyond this small, simple list. You can also check out this list of advice on writing from famous authors, courtesy of brainpickings.org.
Please note that while I embrace technology and the digital age, I personally choose to remain loyal to the printed book and do not use an e-reader, nor do I ever plan to (I’m also keen on writing longhand in notebooks as much as I am on the keys and a screen, but more on that later). As such, the following links direct to the print versions of the subsequent selections.
Part memoir, part writing discussion, this bare-bones discussion on writing as a craft should be on every writer’s bookshelf, in my opinion. I still think the best tip for writers is to follow King’s advice mentioned in this book: “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” Believe it or not, it really comes down to those two things.
A true artist of the short story and novel, Bradbury brings a touch of powerful poetry to his words on writing. This one made me want to get out of bed and start scratching or typing away immediately. Truly inspiring and beautiful, and it’ll also make you want to read (or re-read) anything else Bradbury’s written.
This I read relatively recently, back in late 2013, and I will say that Cleaver comes to the art of writing with some great advice and tips on getting started, along with ideas on story-creation. This one’s a great read and can open many doors you didn’t realize were even there, let alone closed. Highly recommended if you’re having trouble in any vein.
It’s been a while since I’ve read Gardner, but it hit me pretty hard with incredibly valuable advice and thoughts on the writing process. .
Not exactly a book on writing, but this little collection is an absolute gem for Kerouac fans and aspiring or seasoned writers. I’m a bit biased here because I’m a bit of a Kerouac fanatic, and I found this to provide some beautiful insight into how the man worked as a writer.
I first learned about Murray when I changed majors from business to journalism at the University of New Hampshire, where Murray laid the foundation for the school’s English/Journalism program. Throughout his career, he offered immortal bits of wisdom for all writers to take into consideration. This particular collection is both practical and inspiring, and chops the notion of “writer’s block” into pieces.
What do you think are the best books on writing? Sound off in the comments section below; I’d love to hear what others think.