If you’ve ever wondered, “How do I write a book?”, “How do I write a short story?”, or “How do I write a poem?” you’re not alone. I’m halfway done my MFA program at Vermont College of Fine Arts, and I ask myself these questions a lot, too, though I’m noticing that by now I feel more comfortable with the answers that fit my personal craft. Fortunately, you don’t need to be a Master’s of Fine Arts in Writing candidate, or even a college graduate, in order to soak up the great Wisdom of Words, as I like to call it. Another word for it is craft. That’s because there are so many great books out there on writing craft. In this post, I’ll guide you through 20+ of the most essential books on creative writing. These essential books for writers will teach you what you need to know to write riveting stories and emotionally resonant books—and to sell them.
I just also want to put in a quick plug for my post with the word count of 175 favorite novels. This resource is helpful for any writer.
What Made the List of Essential Books for Writers—and What Didn’t
So what made the list? And what didn’t?
Unique to this list, these are all books that I have personally used in my journey as a creative and commercial writer.
That journey started when I was 15 and extended through majoring in English and Creative Writing as an undergrad at UPenn through becoming a freelance writer in 2014, starting this book blog, pursuing my MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults at Vermont College of Fine Arts, and publishing some fiction and nonfiction books myself. My point here is not to boast, just to explain that these books have all helped me better understand and apply the craft, discipline, and business of writing over the course of more than half my life as I’ve walked the path to become a full-time writer. Your mileage my vary, but each of these books have contributed to my growth as a writer in some way. I’m not endorsing books I’ve never read or reviewed. This list comes from my heart (and pen!).
Most of these books are geared towards fiction writers, not poetry or nonfiction writers
It’s true that I’m only one human and can only write so much in one post. Originally, I wanted this list to be more than 25 books on writing. Yes, 25 books! But it’s just not possible to manage that in a single post. What I’ll do is publish a follow-up article with even more books for writers. Stay tuned!
The most commonly recommended books on writing are left out.
Why? Because they’re everywhere! I’m aiming for under-the-radar books on writing, ones that aren’t highlighted often enough. You’ll notice that many of these books are self-published because I wanted to give voice to indie authors.
But I did want to include a brief write-up of these books… and, well, you’ve probably heard of them, but here are 7 of the most recommended books on writing:
The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron – With her guided practice on how to rejuvenate your art over the course of 16 weeks, Cameron has fashioned an enduring classic about living and breathing your craft (for artists as well as writers). This book is perhaps best known for popularizing the morning pages method.
The Art of Fiction by John Gardner – If you want to better understand how fiction works, John Gardner will be your guide in this timeless book.
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott – A beloved writing book on process, craft, and overcoming stumbling blocks (both existential and material).
On Writing by Stephen King – A must-read hybrid memoir-craft book on the writer mythos and reality for every writer.
Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose – A core writing book that teaches you how to read with a writer’s eye and unlock the ability to recognize and analyze craft for yourself.
Steering the Craft by Ursula K. Le Guin – Many writers consider this to be their bible on craft and storytelling.
Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg – A favorite of many writers, this book takes an almost spiritual approach to the art, craft, and experience of writing.
I’m aiming for under-the-radar books on writing on my list.
These books are all in print.
Over the years, I’ve picked up several awesome books on creative writing from used bookstores. Oh, how I wish I could recommend these! But many of them are out of print. The books on this list are all available new either as eBooks, hardcovers, or paperbacks. I guess this is the right time for my Affiliate Link disclaimer:
This article contains affiliate links, which means I might get a small portion of your purchase. For more on my affiliate link policy, check out my official Affiliate Link Disclaimer.
You’ll notice a lot of the books focus on the business of writing.
Too often, money is a subject that writers won’t talk about. I want to be upfront about the business of writing and making a living as a writer (or not) with these books. It’s my goal to get every writer, even poets!, to look at writing not just from a craft perspective, but from a commercial POV, too.
And now on to the books!
Part I: The Best Books on Writing Craft
The Anatomy of Story by John Truby
Click Here To Read More https://brokebybooks.com/best-books-on-creative-writing/