My favorite writing books

There are enough books about writing that if you took the time to read them all, you'd never have time to write. (I don't think that's irony, I think it's that the people who write books about writing know that other authors are always looking for way to work on their writing without actually doing it. We're a crowd that begs to be distracted.) I won't pretend to have read even a small percentage of all those books, but I've read enough to know that there are some good ones, some repetitive ones, and some that are just plain wrong. Of the good ones, there are three that are on my desk all the time, right next to my thesaurus and dictionary. In reverse order of which ones I would save if my computer caught fire and the whole desk were about to go up in flames:

3. Coaching the Artist Within by Eric Maisel - Maisel has a pretty cool job, coaching and teaching people to coach writers, painters, actors and other creative types. He's written a lot of books about what stops us from creating, how to get deep down to the part of us that doesn't judge our work before we ever set pen to paper, and most importantly, that creation is Work. It's not magic, it's not a "either you have it or you don't" ability, and it's not easy. Coaching the Artist Within covers all the roadblocks, self made and external, that we allow to get in our way so that we don't have to do the work. I've got several of Maisel's other books, but this is the one that speaks to me when I need a kick in the butt.

2. Room to Write: Daily Invitations to a Writer's Life by Bonni Goldberg - This is a wonderful little book full of writing prompts and exersises that are more than prompts and exercises. Each starts with a few paragraphs explaining why whatever the prompt is exploring is important to a writer, then gives the directions for a short writing assignment, and ends with a quotation from published writers, statesmen, artists, etc. that connects to the exercise. This is the book I grab, open to a random page, and start writing when my muse doesn't show up for work.

3. Bird by Bird:Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott - This is my writing bible. When I am lost and ready to give up, this is the book that reminds that lost is okay and giving up was never really an option. There's good nuts and bold advice about writing in here, mixed in with a lot of "you're not the first person to feel this way and you won't be the last". This is the book of reassurance and compassion that every writer needs to get through those dark days...weeks...and, let's admit it happnes, months.

1 comment:

Reel Inspiration said...

Writing Down the Bones is also good. About "fast writing" and journaling to get started. The important thing is not to edit yourself at first.