The writing process can be incredibly simple:
Write more and you’ll write better.
Read high quality writing and you’ll write better.
Read well AND write a lot, and you’ll be even better still.
But a few writers, editors, and agents have written excellent books on the process, the craft, style, structure, and motivation. Going into the new year, many writers are looking for texts that will help improve their writing, help them get a first story published or finish revising that novel. The following five books are some of the best texts I’ve read for specific writing instruction:
1. Stein On Writing – By Sol Stein
Stein explains, “This is not a book of theory. It is a book of usable solutions–how to fix writing that is flawed, how to improve writing that is good, how to create interesting writing in the first place.”
2. The Forest For The Trees – By Betsy Lerner
Another book written by an experienced editor. This book was incredibly helpful leading up to the sale of my first book. Lerner guides an aspiring author through the entire process.
3. On Writing – By Stephen King
A lot of literary writers are snobs about Stephen King, but I don’t understand that attitude. King has put in the work, understands plot better than most writers ever born, loves his readers, and markets incredibly well too. This book is half memoir and half how-to, the second half of the book working as a nuts-and-bolts guide. If you read On Writing, it will be useful.
4. 3 Minutes Or Less: Life Lessons From America’s Greatest Writers
An anthology of short essays by America’s literary greats on topics like “obsession,” “illusion,” “first love,” and “beginnings.” Any writer, published or unpublished, will get something out of this collection.
5. Bird By Bird: Some Instructions On Writing And Life – Anne Lamott
No “how to write” list is complete without Lamott’s best book. She is brave, honest, truthful, harsh, and funny. I kept quotes from Bird By Bird above my writing desk while struggling through my first failed novel. Lamott kept me going.