I talk to people all the time who want to be writers. Usually, the conversation goes something like this.
Them: What do you do for a living?
Me: I’m a writer
Them: Oh wow, I’ve always dreamed of writing a book someday.
Me: You should do it!
Them: Oh, no. I could never… I don’t have time… I’m not that good…
Me: You should still do it. Writing is incredibly healing. Writing is cheap therapy. Writing is one of the best things you can ever do for yourself. .
With that in mind, here are seven books every writer should read.
And when I say “writer”, know that I don’t mean every person who has already written a book or published a book or who has been trained as a writer (although these books might be interesting to them as well).
I don’t mean every person who believes he or she has what it takes to be a “real” writer someday.
I mean you. I mean me. I mean everyone who has ever considered writing because you know about the benefits it brings, because you want more of it, because it’s healing.
These are the seven books every writer should read.
They have helped me as a writer. I hope they help you, too.
The Artists Way by Julia Cameron
This book has helped me overcome the blockages getting in the way of unique voice as a writer. It’s the perfect mixture of practical and creative—with easy-to-understand assignments, but also the permission you need to just write. Cameron has helped me, and continues to help me, unlock the creative potential already inside of me. I can’t recommend this book highly enough.
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
Some of my favorite writing advice—and life advice—comes from this book. If you’re familiar with Anne Lamott, you may have already read this book, but even if you have, it’s worth reading again. Buy it. Give it away. Keep it close by. Use it to remind you to start where you are, take one step at a time, and be willing to write a shitty first draft.
Thinking Write by Kelly L. Stone
The premise of this book is this: our subconscious mind is really our best writer; and if we find a way stir that subconscious mind, to wake it up, to care for it, give it grace, we will uncover and cultivate the beautifully creative voice inside of us. Stone gives practical tips for caring for our creative selves and also provides guided meditations to help your inner writer.
Why We Write edited by Meredith Maran
This book includes advice from twenty of America’s bestselling authors about the process and motivations for writing, and not one single person says, “I set out to be a famous author,” or “what draws me back to the page everyday is the idea I can sell a million of copies.” What I learn from these authors is what I know to be true from my own experience: I write because I have to, because I can’t not. I write because it’s healing.
The Story Within by Laura Oliver
This book teaches voice and story and writing the only way I know how teach it—not by teaching it, necessarily, but by teaching you to teach yourself. Oliver includes stories and antidotes, suggestions, inspirations and guided practice so you can walk yourself through the process of discovering the story inside of you—the story which has always been.
Zen and the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury
It’s easy to think, “if only I could achieve outward success as a writer, then I would feel okay. I would feel like I had ‘made it’ and like everything was going to be okay.” It’s encouraging to hear from a man who achieved more outward success with his writing than he ever dreamed, writing has always been a struggle. It always will be. And that’s okay.
Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Every Writer by Mignon Fogarty
So many writers (especially those who are scared to call themselves “writers”) get hung up on grammar. Meanwhile, I want to say, “I have two degrees in writing, and I still forget things, have to re-learn things, and even find grammar rules I don’t know.” This book is not only an easy to read, it’s also a great resource for any writer who needs a refresher on comma rules or sentence structure or the use of adverbs.