So this is going to be another one of those posts: a post where I discuss my favorite tools of the craft! And I think this is a fun one. You see, I keep a running list of non-fiction books that have helped me in my journey to become a better writer, and from time to time I like to update and share that list to help other writers. It’s been several years since my last update, and I’ve read some really good ones.
So here we go. My favorite books on writing.
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, by Stephen King
This was one of the first writing craft books I ever read, and honestly, I feel like every writer should read it. Maybe multiple times (speaking of which, I may be due for a re-read!). It’s considered one of the classic books on how to write, and for good reason. It’s packed with advice on writing (of course) as well as the life of a writer and life in general. And it’s also full of Stephen King’s voice and wit, which makes it an entertaining, as well as informative, read.
Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott
This is another classic book on writing and another I think all writers should read. Anne’s voice is familiar and friendly and full of tough love all at once, and she really has so many quotable bits on inspiration throughout the book. It was a joy to read this. 🙂
Wired for Story, by Lisa Cron
Back when I was more active on Tumblr (in fact, this came up the last time I updated this list), a follower recommended this one to me. I was in grad school for neuroscience, also trying to write and query my first novel (which is now published), and this book hit all my check boxes for things I loved.
Friends. This book. If you want to know how to write a captivating story – and the biology that makes it so captivating – this is the book for you! It’s full of tips and tricks to engage readers, and there is so much to learn about why certain things work in stories. It’s a fantastic, fascinating, and fun read!
Unlocking the Heart of the Artist, by Matt Tommey
I actually read this one as part of a Christian artist Bible study group (yes, it is a Christian book on creativity).
It blew me away.
It was exactly what I needed at that point in my life, discussing the rich inner life of the artist, discussing the misnomer of “Christian art” (hint: art cannot be Christian, but the artist can. Christian is a description that fits a person and doesn’t need to be applied to objects. You can disagree if you like, but this is my viewpoint.), and discussing all the ways we can set up roadblocks for our creative selves.
This book will challenge you, break your heart, and uplift you all at once…clearing the way for you to become your best artist (writer) self. Highly recommend!
The Business of Being a Writer, by Jane Friedman
So this one I’m actually STILL reading, but it already rates high on my list! This book should be in every writer’s arsenal. It’s the most comprehensive look at the history, current market, and practice of being a career writer (or having any kind of writing career, even if it’s on the side) that I’ve seen yet. It looks at everything from traditional to indie publishing, small press, literary fiction, how to query…and so much more. Definitely a must-read.
This section is all my also-loved books that I highly recommend. These are great to read and keep on your shelf, either as references or bits of inspiration for your writer self.
Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art, by Madeleine L’Engle
Much like Matt Tommey’s book above, Madeleine L’Engle’s book speaks to the Christian artist, also reflecting on her own journey as a writer. She has some powerful words to share, and it so interesting to see some of her ideas behind some of her most famous works!
Zen in the Art of Writing: Essays on Creativity, by Ray Bradbury
This book is a collection of essays that offer both encouragement and some tough love to get serious about your work. There is so much here, and every time you read it, I’m sure you will find something new to pull out and inspire yourself.
On My Own: How to Format Your Ebook and Print Layout in Microsoft Word, by Savannah Jezowski
This one is an excellent resource for indie authors ready to format their manuscripts. It is a step-by-step guide, written in Savannah Jezowski’s familiar and friendly voice, that will walk you through everything you need to get that manuscript uploaded to retailers. An incredibly useful tool to save some money!
The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression, by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi
This is another excellent tool to have at your disposal. It’s an in-depth guide to emotions and how to describe them in your stories, giving you tools to make your characters relateable and realistic, especially if you’re writing about some emotion outside your own experience. I unfortunately got this one right before they updated the edition, but this book is packed full of information on emotions.
That completes this edition of Selina’s Favorite Writing Books. Do you have any to add? I’m always looking for new ones! (Wonderbook is currently on my radar) Share your favorites in the comments below!