What do baseball players do to get better? They practice. They listen to advice. They watch others they admire play.
What do guitar players do to become the best? They practice. They learn from the best. They breathe the chords in their sleep.
What do actors do?
I think you can see where I'm going with this. As writers, we have to do these same things. We write, even if it's nothing but a journal entry. We think of fabulous stories. We attend seminars. Most important, we read. Without reading, we cannot write.
If you don' have to time read, you don't have the time to write. ~Stephen King
I used to be the world's worst on reading about writing. If I wasn't writing my own stories, I wanted to read what I wanted to read. Then an author friend asked me, "How do you plan to learn if you don't study?" Good question. So, I began to read books on writing. And boy, did I learn a lot.
Reading about writing is a powerful tool. It enhances your mind and gives you the knowledge you crave to be a better writer. Here are my top 5 recommended books on writing.
1. On Writing by Stephen King
Immensely helpful and illuminating to any aspiring writer, this special edition of Stephen King’s critically lauded, million-copy bestseller shares the experiences, habits, and convictions that have shaped him and his work.
“Long live the King” hailed Entertainment Weekly upon publication of Stephen King’s On Writing. Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer’s craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have. King’s advice is grounded in his vivid memories from childhood through his emergence as a writer, from his struggling early career to his widely reported, near-fatal accident in 1999—and how the inextricable link between writing and living spurred his recovery. Brilliantly structured, friendly and inspiring, On Writing will empower and entertain everyone who reads it—fans, writers, and anyone who loves a great story well told.
Day by day, little bird.
2. Bird by bird by Anne Lamott
Think you've got a book inside of you? Anne Lamott isn't afraid to help you let it out. She'll help you find your passion and your voice, beginning from the first really crummy draft to the peculiar letdown of publication. Readers will be reminded of the energizing books of writer Natalie Goldberg and will be seduced by Lamott's witty take on the reality of a writer's life, which has little to do with literary parties and a lot to do with jealousy, writer's block and going for broke with each paragraph. Marvelously wise and best of all, great reading.
You are only an underdog if you let yourself think you are. ~Amy Miles
3. Nailed It by Amy Miles
Today’s writers deal with pressures from all sides: to publish quickly, to stay seen in an over flooded market, to keep their readers happy and to find a way to earn enough money to keep following their dreams.
Writing is not easy. It can be lonely, disheartening and it is easy to feel buried by the very thing you were once passionate about. NAILED IT is 150 inspirations, mantras, mottos or quirky sayings that I have used in my personal bouts with burnout. I hope that they will encourage you, inspire you and remind you that although writing is many times a solo endeavor, writers all around the world understand the pressure you feel to succeed.
You are not alone.
Even the most well-regarded pros struggle sometimes. ~Annie Dillard
4. The Writing Life by Annie Dillard
The author of Pilgrim at Tinker Creek shares her words of wisdom in this handy book where she discusses the difficulties of writing. She writes about how hard it is to write and how sometimes it is necessary to destroy and paragraphs, phrases, and words to re-form them as something even better.
She doesn’t pull punches about how difficult writing can be, which is valuable for any writer to hear: Even the most well-regarded pros struggle sometimes. Her book shares this wisdom in enjoyable prose.
5. Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell
How does plot influence story structure? What's the difference between plotting for commercial and literary fiction? How do you revise a plot or structure that's gone off course?
With Write Great Fiction: Plot & Structure, you'll discover the answers to these questions and more. Award-winning author James Scott Bell offers clear, concise information that will help you create a believable and memorable plot, including: