Some helpful books for writers

Photo Credit; Wikipedia
Photo Credit; Wikipedia

Writing, just like living itself, does not come with an instruction manual. This absence of step-by-step guide is what makes writing a unique creative endeavour.  As writers we do not have clay, paint, or an instrument to work with and lean on.

Through reading number of blogs and exchanging views with fellow bloggers who are either seasoned writers, or just starting search for their writing voice, it became obvious that some questions are common, notably; Is writing what I meant to be doing? Am I really a writer? Will I be any good, or good enough? Can I make a living out of it? What genre am I to write in? Where can I find an agent, publisher, editor? How much will it cost me? How do I find time to write? What should I write about? Am I just wasting time?

If those questions sound familiar to you, rest assured you are not alone. Despite the myriad of ‘writing resources’ on and off the web, ever expanding number of ‘writing gurus’ and alike, they sound awfully familiar to me and many other writers. There is even a debate or confusion on when and if should one call oneself a writer.

Well, once we learn to transform our thoughts and emotions into words, and then write those words down, link them into sentences; we write. We create something that has not previously existed; a piece of writing, a sketch made of words, woven with our own yarns. Threads we pull from our experiences, our sorrows, and our joys.  Somewhere around the same time we also decide, either consciously or not, whether this weaving process moves us or not. Whether we reach for it first when winters of our lives became colder and shores move further away. Or when our summers are so bright we are bursting with sunshine. If we keep on returning, keep on weaving, we no longer ‘just write’, we become writers. For whatever it might or might not bring. From that moment on we become eager to learn how to keep our looms shiny and productive so we can weave the most exquisite textures on them. This is when we start searching for help.

We browse the web tirelessly, we talk to anybody who might be, however remotely, interested in writing, we try to accumulate as many resources as possible. We look for those who came before us and left signs. It does not take long for us to learn that there is no end to this search. Because just like in life; when all is said and done, when all visitors, well-wishers, and passers-by have left, we are sitting on the front porch with only our dreams next to us. Staring into down where words should have been. We no longer wish to write, we long to have written.

For those moments, and for all of us who are intimately acquainted with them, I have compiled the following list of books I turn to for help. Because they work for me every time; some make me laugh, some gave me a courage or help me understand what is going on.  And I hope they will for you too.

In coming weeks I am planning to compile list of other useful resources; such as journals, publications, etc. I found helpful and decided to share with others who might find them helpful too.

As you know, I am a beginner myself, so I would never profess to know much … but I would venture to say that I know enough to realize how little I know. There is an old African proverb that compares the knowledge to a baobab tree; no man can embrace it on its own. So if you have any suggestions, or questions; let me know.

Useful books about writing:

‘Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life’, by Anne Lammott, (author of ‘Traveling Mercies’), this book is not only a fantastic book on writing, but also a book on art of living. No matter how empty the porch has been, this book always makes me feel alive after reading only few pages. I keep it permanently on my writing desk. It is warm, helpful, generous and above all written with honesty.

‘Finding Your Writer’s Voice: A Guide to Creative Fiction’, by Frank and Wall, this book will help you find your own writing voice. A unique, recognizable writing voice is what every writer wishes for. It is what distinguishes those who write from writers, and writers from authors; we all write, just like we all converse, (either by words, or gestures, or symbols), but only those most persistent, those that return to it day in and day out become writers, and from those that are writers, only some become authors whose voice is recognizable to many and makes difference somewhere, to somebody. The voice forged from continuous practice. It is because of writers’ voice readers return to them and seek them out from crowds.

Page by Page’ by Heather Sellers, the book that will make you feel less alone and show you how and why you need to develop a special ‘talent of sitting in a room, all by yourself and getting used to that’ … there are times when we are all scared, lazy, nervous; those are the times we need to remember to stay in our chair!

The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles’ by Steven Pressfield, the book that will resonate strongly with those struggling with doubt (and that is probably all of us). If you are sometimes, or even often, paralysed with fear, this is the book for you, (and me -:)! Because both fear and self-doubt are indicators. The bigger the fears and self-doubts, the more certain it is that we are on a right path. As long as we can move at least a little bit along the path, that is!

‘On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft’, by Stephen King, if you have ever found yourself, (and who has not?) sitting in your room, committed to write those five hundred or thousand words a day, and after staring into the screen, or page, for some time asked yourself; Ok now what am I going to write about, this book is for you. Because the answer is; whatever you want! Not what your relatives, spouses, polite members of your community, or your wider family would like you to write or expect you to write… no it is what you want. And this is the hardest part … are you brave enough? Do you want to be truly alive or remain polite? The book really is two books in one; combination of frank and sometimes harsh advice to writers and autobiography.

There are of course many other books; if you have a book or books you found particularly helpful, let me and others know about it.

Author: Daniela

Reader, Writer, Mother, Freethinker, Habitual Day Dreamer, Blogger - Sharing Ideas, Poetry, Prose, and Conversations on the Lantern Post!

32 thoughts on “Some helpful books for writers”

    1. Exactly! The stage of so called ‘beginner’ never really leaves you when you a writer. Every new piece we write is in essence a new beginning. Thank you for reading and commenting. Cheers! Daniela

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    1. Thank you for reading and commenting. I am glad you find it helpful. Let me know how you go with the books and which one you like best. Kind Regards Daniela

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      1. Thank you and i am glad that you respond very quickly, i am trying to read the book named “A guide to creative fiction” this is only because i want to write some novel based on my own fiction sense. Currently i am improving my english and technical writings skills and then i will focus on this book first. If you remember any good book that help me to avoid technical mistakes, that will be a favour to me. I have one problem that i try to translate my native language into english, when i consult one Masters of English, he said me that try to interpret the language not translate. Therefore, now a days i am following this instruction. One thing is dead clear that your english skills are very good and i am lucky to be here. By following your Blogs i can learn many things.

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      2. You are most welcome. The other book you may find very useful is ‘The Curious Case of the Misplaced Modified: How to Solve the Mysteries of Weak Writing’ by Bonnie Trenga. The best advice anyone can give is to simply practice, practice, practice … and you will (as we all have) get better!
        Best of Luck
        Daniela

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  1. This is so very helpful and *quite* descriptive of my life these days. I recently read Bird by Bird, and now intend to work through much of this reading list. Thank you!

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    1. You are most welcome! And thank you stopping by and commenting. We all sometimes feel like that … and then the next day we just come back to it and do some more! I am planning to provide some more useful ideas, resources, etc. in the next few weeks! Best Regards, Daniela

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  2. I really liked the piece about weaving and it reminded me of the tale of Arachne the spinner from Greek Mythology. Just a quick comment, reading about writing isn’t writing. Only writing is writing. You do the writing stuff very well my friend!

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  3. Hi Daniela, I’m currently reading The 6.5 Practices of Moderately Successful Poets by Jeffrey Skinner. It has some interesting tips.

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