Books on writing is one genre that we didn’t cover during this week’s Armchair BEA. When I think of books for writers I include books by writers about craft, books about writers, and books written by writers on writing. There isn’t any one best book for writing because writers are so diverse in nature. There are, however, books on writing that have stood the test of time.
Best books on writing for writers
The following books by writers on writing that inspire and motivate writers are written by some well-known bestselling writers like Stephen King and Ray Bradbury, as well as writers beloved by the writing community. With these writers you don’t simply read the books for what they say but also for how they say it.
On Writing by Stephen King
When it comes to books on writing, Stephen King’s now classic book on writing, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, pretty much tops every writer’s list as a must-have. It has been out for more than a decade and a 10th anniversary edition is now available. You cannot go wrong reading this book.
Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open. – Stephen King
Bird by Bird by Annie Lamont
Annie Lamont’s classic book on writing, Bird by Bird, swept the writing world when it was first released and rose to the top of every writer’s favorite books on writing list. She is most known and most quoted for her embrace “of the shittyfirst draft.”
Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere. – Annie Lamont
Zen and the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury
The very act of reading anything by Ray Bradbury will inspire a writer. His words have force and energy and movement. Among my many books on writing, Zen in the Art of Writing: Essays on Creativity is my favorite. The book may be thin in its physicality but it is wide in its breadth. His essay The Joy of Writing should be imprinted on every writer’s heart.
When was the last time you dared release a cherished prejudice so it slammed the page like a lightning bolt? – Ray Bradbury
Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg
Another near-instant classic upon release, Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within, has been a huge favorite among writers for decades. Suddenly writers, armed with their pens and notebooks, were crowding cafes and outdoor restaurants and putting their pens to pages.
Goldberg’s book remains a favorite when it comes to practical yet inspirational books on writing. Her timed freewriting exercises became as famous as her instruction to “keep your hand moving.”
It is odd that we never question the feasibility of a football team practicing long hours for one game; yet in writing we rarely give ourselves the space for practice. – Natalie Goldberg
The Writing Life by Annie Dillard
Annie Dillard’s classic, The Writing Life, inspired a generation of writers. Her description of the stunt pilot and her application of what she saw to writing has stayed with me from the moment her words exploded in my brain. For inspiration, Dillard’s book remains in the top tier of books on writing.
Like any fine artist, he controlled the tension of the audience’s longing. You desired, unwittingly, a certain kind of roll or climb, or a return to a certain portion of the air, and he fulfilled your hope slantingly, like a poet, or evaded it until you thought you would burst, and then fulfilled it surprisingly, so you gasped and cried out. – Annie Dillard
Any of these books will provide hours of inspiration and read daily will provide the motivation to get any writer’s butt in the chair and their hand moving. I hope you’ll share your favorite books on writing in the comment section below. If you’re an Armchair BEA visitor, do say hello.