The number of aspiring writers out there are aplenty, so are the copious amount of books on writing. Here’s a list of books on writing we believe every writer should tick off.
by Nikhil Sreekandan
“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”
Writing is a weird craft, is it not? Those who have known it will agree. One day you might be pulling your hair out in frustration and in vehement disgust at your inability to write even a single true word, but the very next you might be on cloud nine having spent a good three hours churning out a good chunk of that dream project of yours. Maybe, that is the beauty of the art of writing.
If you are a lover of the written word, here are a few books on writing that you should definitely consider reading.
1. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
Entertaining, empowering and eminently revealing, this manual on writing by one of the most successful living authors of our time is probably the one book on the list that you must read if you are going to read just one. Stephen King’s On Writing is filled with mesmerizing accounts from his childhood, vivid memories from his adolescent, college and struggling years before Carrie – giving his readers an express insight into the formation of a writer and how his craft has evolved over the years.
King then goes on to provide very practical and necessary advice for all aspiring writers on the very basics of writing, plot and character development. Beautifully written, incredibly intimate and mad-inspirational, On Writing is compulsory reading for every writer.
2. Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg
If you are facing a serious case of writer’s block, all you need is this delightful read from Natalie Goldberg. For more than twenty years Natalie Goldberg has been challenging and cheering on writers with her books and workshops. According to her, writing is no different from other forms of Zen practice. “It is backed by two thousand years of studying the mind.”
If you are looking for a book of writing exercises and instructions and advice on how to revise, this isn’t that book for you. If you don’t want to hear about Zen Buddhism, this isn’t the book for you. But what this book will do is make you want to write again, to look at the world with a different perspective and an open mind.
3. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott
‘Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.’
Based on this philosophy provided to her by her father, Anne Lamott pens down yet another non-fiction masterpiece filled with inspiration for artists of every stripe. A step-by-step guide on how to get started with “Short Assignments”, how to get through the “Shitty First Drafts” and everything about the character, dialogue and plot. If you have ever wondered what it means to be a writer, what life would be like married to your passion for writing, this is the book to read.
Almost stupidly honest, quirky and funny, this entertaining read is sure to give you the boost you need to chase your true calling.
4. The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks & Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield
This is one of the books that is quintessential reading for everyone and anyone. Be it running a marathon, starting your own business or writing the next great best-seller, the War of Art is for all of them. This quick inspirational read from the renowned screen and fiction writer Steven Pressfield shows readers how to identify, defeat and unlock the inner barriers to creativity.
Of course, written mostly from the creative working perspective of a writer, the connect achieved between the author and an aspirational writer is on a different level when compared to everyone else. Still, if this one doesn’t give you the right boost and get you working towards your dream, nothing else will.
5. The Story Grid: What Good Editors Know by Shawn Coyne
Shawn Coyne’s The Story Grid is your one-stop guide to getting published. The twenty-five-year book-publishing veteran has acquired, edited, published or represented works of the likes of Ian Rankin and Robert McKee.
Created to analyze stories and provide helpful editorial comments, it is a tool that Coyne developed from the many years of his editing experience. Imagine you are an author and you could send your manuscript to an editor, who checks it out and tells you what worked and what did not – that is exactly what the Story Grid will do for you.
Ever thought of getting yourself published? This is the book for you!
Nikhil Sreekandan is a journalist with a desire to explore life through the stories he chases. An engineer who found recluse in the world of words, he is a journalism post-graduate from Cardiff University. He works as a content editor at Nature inFocus, India’s leading platform for nature and wildlife. When not lost in cinema, contemporary literature or his earphones — there is a genuine attempt at ‘giving chase’, and it is beautiful.