Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard changed my life. I had never encountered reflections like hers, and she quickly became one of my favorite writers. Annie’s honestly, combined with her impeccable prose, make her a wonderful guide. She’s honest about the difficulties, the torture that often accompanies creative work. She even says she HATES writing. Yet her words still make me want to write.
- by Patti Smith
Journey through Smith’s creative life with this ethereal, magical work. Less handbook, more personal journal, Smith takes us from a fictional tale of artistic obsession to a sweeping account of her own writing process. An amazing storyteller, Smith’s awe-inspiring look at the mysterious yet beautiful nature of art is sure to inspire your own writing practice. Divided in three parts, this unusual genre-defying work is a must-read for any creative.
Prose's insights are terrific. Writers: this is a must-read. Readers: you'll gain insight into how your favorite authors work their magic.
Short, powerful, and moving. Okorafor’s 112 page memoir is for "anyone eager to understand how their limitations might actually be used as a creative springboard." When she woke up from surgery to repair her scoliosis, Nnedi Okorafor couldn't move. Unexpectedly paralyzed and unable to move from her hospital bed, she started imagining strange things...and turned them into stories. Writing became a healing practice for Okorafor, a way to go beyond her limitations and find her strength. I can't wait to pick this one up soon.
- by Mason Currey
The concept couldn’t be simpler: this compendium holds the daily routines of 237 writers, composers, painters, choreographers, playwrights, poets, philosophers, sculptors, filmmakers, and scientists. We glimpse the creative processes of drinkers and drug takers, early risers and exercisers, nap takers and night owls. Some schedules are mundane, others are wildly eccentric. With their contradictory routines, you’ll be assured there’s no “right” way to work. While you could read it straight through, it’s best enjoyed dipping into again and again, slowly over time. A perfect laid-back read: you don’t even need a bookmark.
What keeps me from getting my writing done? Me. I resonated with so much of what Pressfield had to say about the many forms the Resistance takes, and how to combat it. I recognized myself over and over in these pages–and I’d thought I was the only one.
- by Anne Lamott
In Anne's own words: "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.'" A modern classic, and a must-read for writers.
- by Chris Baty
This is the unofficial handbook for National Novel Writing Month, which takes place every November. If you're contemplating making a run at #NaNoWriMo, read this now so you'll be ready.
- by Rachel Aaron
Just. Get. It. Done. There’s an inevitable part of the NaNoWriMo process where “just getting it done” overshadows any artistic, literary goal. This is the book you need to push through the unavoidable slog and increase your word count. Take it from me, adding complicated routines or exercises to your writing practice will only slow you down. Keep it simple, and collect a few tips from this little book. It’s short and sweet, super practical.
- by Stephen King
This is an exceptional book for book lovers and a must-read for writers, and I'm saying that as someone who has read a grand total of two books by King. (The other is 11/22/63.) I thoroughly enjoyed his descriptions of his fiction writing process (although his descriptions convinced me that I never, ever want to read Carrie.) I especially enjoyed the anecdotes he shared about his marriage, and I couldn't turn the pages fast enough when he explores his devastating car wreck and recovery.
- by Ray Bradbury
Bradbury is remembered for his inventive stories and fantastically creative mind. In this essential book for writers, he shares his process and spills his secrets. Bradbury dishes a surprising amount of practical advice for a book with the word "zen" in the title.
- by Lisa Cron
I just bought this in paperback after 3 separate friends gushed about it in a week. From the publisher: "Following on the heels of Lisa Cron's breakout first book, Wired for Story, this writing guide reveals how to use cognitive storytelling strategies to build a scene-by-scene blueprint for a riveting story. The prevailing wisdom in the writing community is that there are just two ways around this problem: pantsing (winging it) and plotting (focusing on the external plot). Story coach Lisa Cron has spent her career discovering why these methods don’t work and coming up with a powerful alternative, based on the science behind what our brains are wired to crave in every story we read (and it’s not what you think)."