On becoming a writer, the one best piece of advice is to read. Read everything. Read all the time. Read what you love and emulate author’s whose work you admire. Separate from that is reading about writing which also helps. It’s helped me anyway. I have shelves of books on writing. Here are a few of my personal favorites.
Bibliography: Writing Books
Cameron, Julia, The Right to Write: An Invitation and Initiation into the Writing Life, Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam, 1998.
Cameron shares her writing tools. This book is a guide to developing a daily writing practice.
Campbell, Joseph, The Hero With A Thousand Faces, New World Library, 1949.
“The hero’s journey” can serve as a stepping off place for story-telling. It’s a hefty read but useful for writers of fiction.
Conner, Janet, Writing Down Your Soul: How to Activate and Listen to the Extraordinary Voice Within, Conari Press, 2008.
This is about living your fullest life as much as it is about writing. I came across this one during a particularly vulnerable time in my life. If you are unaccustomed to journal writing, this might be a good place to start.
Darwin, Emma, Writing Historical Fiction, Teach Yourself, 2016.
This one includes exercises on plot development, research, and aspects that are unique to the genre of historical fiction.
Dillard, Annie, Living By Fiction, Harper & Row, 1982.
While this book is less about writing and more about reading, it’s a classic for any writer of fiction.
Gardner, John, The Art of Fiction: Notes on Craft for Young Writers, Vintage Books, 1984.
It is quite a feat to get through this one, but it is filled with treasures and insight that every writer needs.
Goldberg, Natalie, Old Friend from Far Away: The Practice of Writing Memoir, Free Press, 2007.
Half of the front cover is missing from my copy; a literate dog tried to eat it. These writing prompts and exercises inspire going deep in memoir writing.
Goldberg, Natalie, Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within, Shambala, 1986.
An absolute classic. If you don’t already have this book in your collection, I have to question your “writerliness.” Doesn’t everyone own this book?
Hurwitz, Diana, Story Building Blocks: Craft Your Story Using Four Layers of Conflict, Hurwitz Publishing, 2011.
If you are looking for a basic template to outline a novel, this is your book.
Karr, Mary, The Art of Memoir, Harper, 2015.
It’s Mary Karr, what else needs to be said? Seriously, with this book she will help you write the scary stuff.
King, Stephen, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, Scribner, 2000.
Another “must-have” for any writer. Get it. Read it. Mark it up.
Lamott, Anne, Bird By Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, Anchor Books,1994.
I have so many pages tabbed in my copy! Again, just read it.
Le Guin, Ursula K., Steering the Craft: Exercises and Discussions on Story Writing for the Lone Navigator or the Mutinous Crew, The Eighth Mountain Press, 1998.
Here is another book with exercises to help you with your writing practice. Use your current project as you complete these exercises and you might have a good beginning.
Pressfield, Steven, The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles, Black Irish Entertainment, 2002.
I really like this one. It’s a small quick read that builds confidence, guides you toward feeling “professional” and tells you to “slay the dragon.”
Prose, Francine, Reading Like a Writer: A guide For People Who Love Books and For Those Who Want to Write Them, Harper, NY, 2006.
Here is my newest discovery and I am excited about it. I have just started reading it.
Wittig Albert, Ph.D., Susan, Writing From Life: Telling Your Soul’s Story, Jeremy P. Tarcher, 1996.
Explore your personal narrative, discover the truth of your life and share it with the world. Susan Wittig Albert is a huge proponent of women writers. She is encouraging and a role-model.
Some of these are classics, some newer. All have proved useful to me and I refer to them often. As I’ve been wandering through this stack, I realize that I should revisit some of these. In fact, I look forward to reading them again and finding treasures that I missed before.