I’ve been writing for well over 15 years and have read a lot of books on the craft. Some are lifesavers, other have a few pearls of wisdom, while a few aren’t worth the time or money. There are even books on writing that leave you feeling defeated and wanting to throw your computer, along with your dreams of becoming a successful writer, out the window.
I won’t talk about books that cover the basics, such as The Elements of Style. I will assume you know the essential mechanics of writing and know how to form cohesive sentences. The following books, my two absolute favorites, will give you the shot of adrenaline you may be in desperate need of to keep going, keep pursuing, and keep following your writing dreams!
On Writing by Stephen King-This has got to be my number one book on writing. The first half is an autobiography. I found his writing to be very real and from the heart. I laughed and even felt a bit saddened at times. You read about his childhood, his first attempts at publishing when he was in grade school, and all of the hard work, long hours and dedication he put into his writing career. This in itself gave me hope that I could someday be a successful author as well!
The second half of the book is a no bull, no fluff guide to writing. What I like most about it is that he doesn’t bog you down with rule after rule, and strict organization. Forget outlines and note cards and character sketches! He recommends that you just sit down at your computer, go with your muse and see where he/she takes you. He tells you what you need to know from idea to sale, as well as a few simple considerations and rules. He uses examples of his own work and that of others to show what’s good prose and what’s not. He offers some exercises as well.
My writing has flourished because of this book. It’s spontaneous and real. When I sit down at the computer I don’t even know what the next scene will entail, but I’m always amazed to see what my inner self can come up with once I get out of my own way.
Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury-Be prepared! Ray Bradbury will take you by the hand and leave you breathless in this little book. I can honestly say that I’ve never felt more exhilarated or had more ideas popping into my mind than after reading this book. He advises you to stay drunk on writing because it saves us from reality, to write at least a thousand words a day every day, to write from real life, and much more. What I liked most about this book is the way I felt after reading it. Zen in the Art of Writing is like having Ray Bradbury right there with you, guiding you, cheering you on, and urging you to stop creeping and start flying!
Much in the same vein as Stephen King’s book, this gem is not about rules that fence you in and leave you no room to breathe, but in letting loose the inner writer. It draws that fine line between genius and insanity. I loved it!
My creativity has soared because of these books. I highly recommend them.
Kelly Wallace is a certified counselor, multi-published author, teacher, speaker, and radio show host. She’s also self-proclaimed workaholic, single mother of five daughters, and a professional psychic who reads for over one thousand clients per year. You can visit her at: