Are you tired of wasting time reading books about writing that don’t deliver on their promise to help you improve your skills?
In fact, I’ve read at least fifty books on the craft of writing. Some stunk. Some were mediocre. And some were game changers.
I’ll share the ones that fell into the last category with you.
These books made such a huge difference for me. They sit on my desk as reference tools. Anyone serious about becoming a successful writer should read these four books at least once.
First up is On Writing, by the master of the thriller himself, Stephen King.
I’ve read it twice and dog-eared my favorite pages.
King talks about the craft of writing and shares the tools you need to be successful. He shares the bumpy road to becoming a writer and makes it clear his success didn’t happen overnight.
What makes this book great is he doesn’t bore you to death. It’s insightful and inspiring. You get to sit down with King one-on-one for a personal coaching session on writing. Well, sort of. You get the idea.
Next up is Dorothea Brande and her book, Becoming a Writer. Some people believe you’re born a writer. Brande debunks that myth.
She believed anyone could learn how to write and proved with this gem.
I took a year to read it. Why? I did the exercises she gave over the time frame she suggested.
One thing she recommended was writing first thing in the morning before doing anything else. It helps remove the mental junk before tackling writing projects.
I still do this every day. There’s always a short story idea waiting for me in these sessions. Becoming a Writer is encouraging and charming and provides practical applications to improve your writing skills.
I never heard of this next author, Ursula K. Le Guin, before picking up this book.
If you’re a fan, please don’t shoot me.
She recently passed away, but left behind a legacy of fiction novels and this book, Steering the Craft.
Another quick read unless you stop to do the writing exercises like I did. Sometimes I do them again when I have no idea what to write.
There are so many nuggets of information to make your writing shine. A lot of my short story ideas came from doing the exercises in this book, too.
Steering the Craft is like taking an independent study course with Le Guin and having her tell you what’s good about your writing and where you can improve.
The Art of War For Writers made my list, too. Yes, the title is a play on that well-known book The Art of War.
James Scott Bell is a prolific writer. He’s not only written quite a few fiction novels, but he’s got some pretty good books on the craft of writing, too. This is one of my favorites.
As writers we deal with a lot of struggles and have a lot of questions. The Art of War For Writers is a road map to help navigate the most common battles every writer faces. There are exercises and advice written in a sort of daily meditation format.
You don’t have to read this book from beginning to end. You can look at the index for a particular issue you’re dealing with and flip to it.
Bell gives writers advice on everything from how to take an idea and develop it into a full concept to character development, when and how to do a query, coping with the big ‘R’ (yes, rejection because it will happen…a lot) and how to avoid unrealistic expectations (and LOTS more).
You can see I’ve got a lot of tabs in mine. I flip through this book often.
I have quite a few other books on writing that I enjoy, but these are my absolute favorites. I don’t write without them nearby.
Do you have a favorite book on the craft that you enjoy? Share it in the comments.