The 9 Best Books on Writing That’ll Help You Master Your Craft
You have several half-read books on writing stacked up on your nightstand, several more squirreled away in a desk drawer and a dozen more on book recommendations your Amazon wish list.
You scrutinize all the books that “customers also bought” looking for those one-of-a-kind books that will transform you into a great writer that clients and readers adore. You jump “inside the book” to read the table of contents and credits and page through the free preview.
Books have an uncanny power to teach us, to transport us, to move us light years beyond our ordinary lives. If we could only find the right books, the tried-and-true books written by trusted masters. So we keep looking.
And once in a while you find a writing book that speaks to your heart and gets to the core of what you’re struggling with right now. It changes you. It changes your writing. It changes your life.
The 3 Critical Disciplines You Need to Develop as a Writer
1. Brutal Honesty
First, you need to cultivate a brutal, raw honesty. You need to accept that not every power word, every emotional thought, every first draft, every adjective-loaded sentence that flows from your hot fingertips is precious.
I mentored many rookie reporters who had a cocky, almost swaggering pride at where their writing skills landed them out of college. A few weeks in a newsroom with a couple of crusty copyeditors exploded that attitude. Then, they were ready to listen.
Objectively, unemotionally and dispassionately analyzing your writing is one of the most valuable skills you can develop to further your writing opportunities. And as a side benefit, you’ll also be able to handle scathing criticism from ruthless editors.
2. Linguistic Appreciation
Good writing has a rhythm, that deliberate cadence the writer creates in your mind as you read. Marvel at the perfectly placed and exquisitely balanced use of illusion, surprise and metaphor, and crave to imitate it.
3. Insatiable Curiosity
Yes, writing is a solitary, emotional craft. And learning to improve our writing can feel like solitary confinement without guidance and reassurance. We can learn from teachers, from workshops, from books, but ultimately success is up to us, alone with our notepad or laptop.
Quote 1: “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” ~ Stephen King
Another widely renowned and recommended book is “The Elements of Style”. If you want to learn about the style of writing including Grammar, this book is for you. The Elements of Style was first published in 1918 by Mr. William Strunk. It was revised, enlarged, and republished by his former student Mr. E.B. White. It is a classic manual on the principles of the English language to help you get strong command of the language. If you are looking for a more contemporary approach, you can refer to “The Sense of Style” by Mr. Steven Pinker instead.
14) Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer
Again, the title makes it so clear. Writing Tools is one of the best resources for every writer, outlining 50 strategies that will help you become a much more effective writer. Whilst many of the strategies in this book may be considered fairly simple, and featured in various other writing guides, there are several that are completely unique. This makes the book a must read for any aspiring writers.
“Roy Peter Clark’s Writing Tools is to authors and journalists what Home Depot is to construction workers. Clark gives writers a fully stocked shed of clear, concise tips, strategies and guidelines to instantly help improve anyone’s writing.” – Armchair Interviews
15) Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within (2nd Edition)
Last on the list, is “Writing Down the Bones”, where author Natalie goes through the relationship between Zen sitting practice and writing. An excellent book to top off the list, helping you become a more powerful writer by giving thoroughly researched advice. Natalie has been addressing writers through books and workshops for over 20 years, and the advice she gives from what she’s learnt in this time is astonishing.
“Natalie Goldberg’s insights about writing as a spiritual practice are just as valid today as they were in 1986 when this book was first published. Her suggestions to writers work, both for beginning writers and for writers who depend on words in order to make a living. I recommend this book to the emerging writers I mentor as a must-have reference second only to a good dictionary.” – Kay