I have to confess that I’ve been looking forward to this post all month. I knew at some point that I wanted to include a post with a list of my favorite books on writing, and I believe the time has come!
It goes without saying that great writers are, by necessity, also great readers – immersing myself in the great writing of others automatically encourages better writing from my own pen. It’s the one thing that you truly can learn about simply by reading! Of course, a good writer can’t just read about writing without ever sitting down to the page, but keeping a regular schedule of rigorous reading (not just beach fiction, in other words – not that there’s anything inherently wrong with beach fiction!) is absolutely indispensable for a writer.
In no particular order, here are some of my favorite books that inspire me, challenge me, and help me to hone the craft of writing.
A Million Little Ways by Emily Freeman – I discussed this title in more detail in my Emily Freeman post earlier this month, so I will refer there for more details, but simply put, this is one of my favorite books on living a creative and Gospel-centered life.
Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg – I think I initially read Bones on Emily Freeman‘s recommendation, and it has become a classic that I return to over and over again. It’s one of the best tools to silence my inner-censor/critic, and I really need that.
The Right to Write by Julia Cameron – There’s a lot of mythology and cultural “woo woo” that surrounds the idea of being a “Writer” in the capital “W” sense, but what I love about Julia Cameron is how she turns writing into something so natural, so simple, and so necessary. It’s a fundamental part of being human, she argues, and it doesn’t have to be a big production – you just sit down and you write. I have highlighted and written all over the margins of my copy. I love it.
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott – Commonsense, hilarious, and down to earth advice not just on writing, but on life. I’ve marked this one up like crazy, too.
Walking on Water and A Circle of Quiet by Madeleine L’Engle – You already know that I adore Madeleine, but these two titles in particular have been the most influential, specifically regarding my writing journey. Every time I turn the last page on either one, I want to flip right back to the beginning and start over.
The War of Art and Turning Pro by Steven Pressfield – I’ve read The War of Art at least once a year for the last 3 years, and I pick it up whenever I need a good kick in the seat of the pants. Steven Pressfield overcame outrageous obstacles before he finally made a career out of writing, but his years of practice and determination have yielded amazing fruit in his novels. Gates of Fire and Tides of War, his two novels set during the Peloponnesian War, exude such incredible detail (a result of years of meticulous research) that they “are now assigned by Oxford history dons who tell their students that if they wish to rub shoulders with life in classical Greece, read Pressfield.” [from the forward to The War of Art] Pressfield himself has been made an honorary citizen by the city of Sparta in Greece. How does an artist achieve such remarkable feats? By beating the Resistance, Pressfield argues – every opposing force that looms before the artist every time he sits down to create, be it prose or sculpture or music or entrepreneurship. Pressfield’s prose is brusque, and he uses strong language occasionally, but I highly recommend this book as a good motivator in overcoming the obstacles to doing what you are called to do.
Honorable mentions, which I have not yet read, but hope to do so soon:
Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss
On Writing by Eudora Welty
Zen in the Art of Writing: Essays on Creativity by Ray Bradbury
The Story Within by Laura Oliver
The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron
Am I missing anything to add to my list of writing / creative inspiration?! Tell me in the comments!