I think I speak for a lot of writers when I say if there’s one thing we might love more than writing, it’s reading. And something I love reading about? Writing.
I’ve read a few books about writing over the years. Some of them were verging on boring, but others were really inspiring and helpful, with every page leaving me desperate to get back to my notebook and pen to scribble down some ideas. These are the books that I’ve included in this list.
- Becoming a Writer by Dorothea Brande
This book was originally published in 1934, but even now it is included on heaps of lists about books to read as a writer. There is something so comforting about Brande’s writing – you really feel like she understands the struggles that come along with writing fiction. She talks about having a ‘writing brain’ and an ‘editing brain’ and says that writer’s block only occurs when both brains are trying to work at the same time. It’s that feeling of editing yourself so harshly, that you’re scared of putting words down on the page just in case they aren’t perfect.
Key Takeaways: Early-morning writing and writing by pre-arrangement. Aka – setting a time to write, and actually writing. Brande says this is the only way you can improve.
- Daemon Voices: On Stories and Storytelling by Philip Pullman
You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who isn’t aware of Pullman’s stories. And, as his work is so well-known, he’s clearly doing something right. This book offers a glimpse into his thoughts about constructing stories and building fantastical, but believable worlds, through a collection of his essays and talks.
It’s perfect for any budding fantasy writer, but also has a lot to offer contemporary writers as well. Pullman unravels his writing process and in doing so, offers so many nuggets of wisdom that we can all learn from.
Key Takeaways: Too many to narrow it down! It’s well worth putting this book on your bedside table and dipping into whenever you need some inspiration.
- On Writers and Writing – Margaret Atwood
In the first chapter of this book, Atwood discusses her upbringing and how she became a writer, as well as discussing what it even means to be called a writer. There are so many different ideas in this book about the role of the writer, and a bunch of references to other texts and ideas, so it’s a great one to get your teeth stuck into.
The rest of the book examines the different roles that writers play and examines the metaphors that fiction writers and poets have used to talk about their work. There’s a lot to think about with this one!
Key Takeaways: Even amazingly talented writers like Margaret Atwood had to start somewhere, and couldn’t have predicted where they would end up. Remember this when you write.
I hope this little list has pointed you towards some books that should definitely be on your list of things to read!
One book about writing on my to-be-read list is Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury. Do you have any recommendations that we’ve not covered? Let us know in the comments below!