As I’ve already said – and you no doubt already know – the best way to learn about writing is to write. The next best way is to read – a lot. But another thing that you’ll find really helpful is to have some trusty tomes on your shelf that will provide you with inspiration, information and instruction.
There are times when we all find ourselves stumped about what to write. or perhaps we’d like to try our hand at writing something different but aren’t sure where to start. Having some inspirational/motivations books at hand can solve the problem. Being a writing book junkie I have more than I care to mention but a few I can recommend are:
- Writing Down The Bones and Wild Mind, by Natalie Goldberg. Natalie reaffirms the importance of writing in our lives as well as providing some insightful exercises imbued with her years of wisdom as a practising Buddhist.
- Old Friend From Far Away, also by Goldberg and great for those who want to get into memoir writing.
- Anything by Julia Cameron, starting with The Artists’ Way. Julia’s books focus on developing creativity and nurturing your inner artist.
- The Pocket Muse and The Pocket Muse – Endless Inspiration by Monica Wood have tons of writing ideas all presented on gorgeous paper with black and white photographs to het the writing juices flowing.
- A Picture is Worth 1,000 Words by Phillip Sexton and Tricia Bateman is a collection of interesting photos, writing exercises and advice on various aspects of writing.
- Now Write, Edited by Sherry Ellis. The cover blurb sums it up: “Fiction writing Exercises from today’s best writers and teachers.”
For books providing a deeper vision and instruction on writing you could turn to some of these:
- On Writing, by Stephen King. A must-read for all writers.
- The Writing Book and Writing From Start to Finish both by Kate Grenville. Accessible and practical.
- One Year To a Writing Life, by Susan Tiberghien. This covers a variety of writing styles and genres and includes Toberghien’s personal thoughts and experiences with writing.
- Chapter by Chapter, by Heather Sellers, for those who are writing book length works and need advice on how to get from start to finish. Sellers also wrote Page by Page.
- With All That Could Happen, byDavid Jauss. This book looks at some of the trickier aspects of writing such as Point of View, Flow, Tense and others.
- Dear Writer, by Carmel Bird. Practical advice on writing in the form of letters to a novice writer.
- So You Want To Write, by Marg Piercy and Ira Wood. Great advice and exercises on the nuts and bolts of writing such as plot, dialogue, description, research and more.
- How To Become A Famous Writer Before You Die, by Ariel Gore. A humorous look on becoming a published writer including interviews with well-known writers like Ursula K. Le Guin and ideas on publishing ezines, anthologies and on self promotion.
- Writing The Breakout Novel (and Workbook) and Fire in The Fiction all by Donald Mass, show you how to increase the conflict and tension in your writing and create three-dimensional characters, along with a zillion other bits of great advice for those wanting to one day achieve the holy grail that is publication.
To read more on the habits and practices of well-known writers try:
- Making Stories, by Sue Woolfe and Kate Grenville. this one looks at how ten Australian novels were written.
- Anything with Writers On Writing in the title.
For memoirist three of the best are:
- Writing Your Life, Patti Miller
- Writing The Memoir, Judith Barrington
- Thinking About Memoir, Abigail Thomas
If you’re at the revision stage try:
- The Donald Mass books suggested above
- Manuscript Makeover, Elizabeth Lyon
- From First Draft to Finished Novel, Karen S. Wisner
There are hundreds more helpful books out there and finding the ones that suit your style and personality will take some time.
One word of caution: Beware the endless reading of books on how to write. Remember that the writing itself is the priority. everything else comes after.
Check in to my website www.justwrite.net.au for more detailed reviews on writing books. A new review will be posted weekly.
What books have helped you along the writing journey?