These three books on writing and the writing life are the best and most helpful that I have read so far. Since there are so many books out there that seek to help the budding writer, I thought I would share with you the ones that have most helped me.
Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird is not so much about giving you step by step instructions or tips on how to get your writing done or your career going but more a commentary on what the writer’s life is like, what to expect, and how to tackle it. Using beautiful examples from her own life, Lamott communicates the joys and difficulties of being writer.
“Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write. [It] was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said. ‘Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.'” With this basic instruction always in mind, Anne Lamott returns to offer us a new gift: a step-by-step guide on how to write and on how to manage the writer’s life. From “Getting Started,’ with “Short Assignments,” through “Shitty First Drafts,” “Character,” “Plot,” “Dialogue.” all the way from “False Starts” to “How Do You Know When You’re Done?” Lamott encourages, instructs, and inspires. She discusses “Writers Block,” “Writing Groups,” and “Publication.” Bracingly honest, she is also one of the funniest people alive. If you have ever wondered what it takes to be a writer, what it means to be a writer, what the contents of your school lunches said about what your parents were really like, this book is for you. From faith, love, and grace to pain, jealousy, and fear, Lamott insists that you keep your eyes open, and then shows you how to survive. And always, from the life of the artist she turns to the art of life.” (GoodReads)
Andrew McAleer’s 101 Habits of Highly Successful Novelists is a compilation of advice from different published authors on all the areas of writing that are important. Ranging from your writing routine all the way to your editing process, this book is clear and informative. I have earmarked multiple pages in this book and found valuable advice on the technicalities of creating publishable writing.
“This title focuses on the behaviors necessary to succeed in the dog-eat-dog world of fiction writing by asking successful authors how they practice their craft. Readers will learn how to adopt those habits on their quest to become novelists. The book will inspire, nourish, and provide the needed kick in the pants to turn the wannabes into doers! “The 101 Habits of Highly Successful Novelists” is full of “aha” experiences as the reader uncovers the collected wisdom from the cream of today s fiction writers.” (GoodReads)
Stephen King’s On Writing is a treasure. All my questions that were left unanswered by previous books were addressed by this book. This book gave me so much more than answers though. King doesn’t repeat what other writing books have already said about routine and the technicalities of writing, instead he shows you what the rules are, which of them can be broken and how, and how to make your writing a truer reflection of yourself, your intention, and your story. This book is a must read and it is incredibly enjoyable because you get to enjoy King’s distinctive style while getting advice from the master.
“Long live the King” hailed Entertainment Weekly upon the publication of Stephen King’s On Writing. Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer’s craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have. King’s advice is grounded in his vivid memories from childhood through his emergence as a writer, from his struggling early career to his widely reported near-fatal accident in 1999—and how the inextricable link between writing and living spurred his recovery. Brilliantly structured, friendly and inspiring, On Writing will empower and entertain everyone who reads it—fans, writers, and anyone who loves a great story well told.“ (GoodReads)