Writing is something that a lot of us aspire to do, or are currently doing, in any number of capacities. People write books, short stories, poems, articles, research documents, copywriting, blog posts, etc. What we all have in common is the desire to improve our craft and create something memorable for our readers.
In my free time, I write short stories and novels. I talk about how I can get better at writing and story ideas that I can’t wait to put to the page. What I have put together for you is a handful of my favorite books that talk about writing that I believe will help you on your writing journey.
“A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word to paper.”
― E.B. White
The Elements of Style (E.B. White and William Strunk Jr.) is arguably one of the most important books about writing. It discusses all the basic grammatical skills and style techniques that are pivotal to creating good writing. The book covers grammatical rules, misused words and phrases, theory relating to style, and gives a foundational rule to accompany all of these categories. It is short, concise, (comedic in some areas) and easy to pack in your writing bag. If you are going to only pick up one book in your writing career, let it be this one. Having proper mechanics and word usage will take you so far and give your work an air of professionalism.
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“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”
― Stephen King
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft (Stephen King) is the first book I ever read about writing. I remember specifically sitting in my parent’s back yard and beginning this book, eager to learn from someone who found great success. The first half of the book is largely stories and memories of Stephen King’s life and trials. It was a great way to learn a little bit about how he evolved and his opinion on the entire industry. Not only do you learn how he got started, but he becomes a real person instead of just the guy who writes lots of scary books and movies. The second half is where he dives into specific tools that he believes are essential to being a good writer. He calls this his “writer’s toolbox” and gives you ideas of what to include in your own toolbox and how to establish your writing process.
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“A writer is a person who cares what words mean, what they say, how they say it. Writers know words are their way towards truth and freedom, and so they use them with care, with thought, with fear, with delight. By using words well they strengthen their souls. Story-tellers and poets spend their lives learning that skill and art of using words well. And their words make the souls of their readers stronger, brighter, deeper.”
― Ursula K. Le Guin
Steering the Craft: A 21st Century Guide to Sailing the Sea of Story (Ursula K. LeGuin) was actually a gift for my future husband. But, I of course fell in love with it too and have used it and plan to reuse it to improve elements of my writing. What I loved about this book is that she broke it down into aspects of writing such as punctuation and grammar, adjectives and adverbs, nouns, point of view, and many more. Within each of these chapters she pulls examples from various literary texts, offers guidance and things to think about, has books for further reading, and has writing exercises for you to try. This is not an easy book to work through and she cautions you that this is not a book for beginners but for those who have worked hard at their writing.
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All three of these books are ones that I turn to often and use to improve my own personal writing. I feel like I wouldn’t have progressed the way I have in recent years had these not made their way into my library. If you are excited to get to work on your novel or short story, take the time to read one of these first, and then write away!