Read Like Your Writing Depends On It (Because It Totally Does)!
One of the age old truths about being a writer is this: to actually succeed at it, you have to be an avid reader. Everyone knows that! Right?
It's not just about reading in your genre, however - you need to read about writing. Too meta? Well, too bad. I don't make the rules, I just write sarcastically about them. Lucky for you, I also give you (possibly) sage advice to help you navigate these wordy waters.
Trust me, there are a whole slew of books out there to help you polish your writing skills, plan your novels, start a writing career, and more. I'm going to share a few of my favorites with you, so read on to...well, to read on!
The Business of Being a Writer by Jane Friedman
This comprehensive guide helped me to make sense of an industry that can be intimidating as hell when you're first wading into it.
With over two decades of experience in the publishing field and a whole brand dedicated to helping writers become Writers, Jane Friedman has covered all of the bases when it comes to starting a writing career from scratch.
Her style is simple, engaging, and easy to remember - the book reads more like a helpful, one-sided conversation with an affectionate mentor than a how-to book. Jane's website and blog is a bonus resource that can help you build your knowledge and make sense of your goals and strategies.
On Writing Well by William Zinsser
This book is a staple in the genre of writing advice and self-help. Although touted as a guide for writing non-fiction specifically, the skills and take-aways it includes are helpful for any and all writers.
Whether you pop out novels, memoirs, blog posts, tweets, or any other kind of written content, Zinsser's work will help you to improve every aspect of your writing. This classic is on its 6th edition in 2020 - evidence of its perennial popularity across the decades.
Writing is more than an art, as I'm fond of saying. It's also a practicable skill that everyone (yes, everyone) uses in this day and age. You may think you know how to write - okay, yeah, you probably do - but I promise, you'll do it even better after reading this guide.
Although the original author has sadly passed away to that big lecture hall in the sky, his work and legacy endure. On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing is available through all major book retailers. (Tip: if you order through Goodreads, you help to support the site!)
How to Read a Poem And Fall in Love with Poetry by Edward Hirsch
Not all of you read or write poetry, but you may enjoy this book, anyway. Really, though, I'm posting it for those of you who are poets (and who know it, too).
Not to be cliche, but this guide changed my entire life.
No, really. I've been writing poems since I was able to put down words on a page, and I've been published, won awards, and created an Instagram page (@wordswithfeathers) because of my passion for verse.
Hirsch's way of not just talking about, but delving into the heart of poetry is incredible. Poetic writing isn't just couplets and stanzas, after all - any of you who use prose in your work will find this book to be passionately inspiring and timelessly engaging.
So, my advice? Give this one a chance, and see where it takes you. The Poetry Foundation has a wonderful breakdown of the book if you're still on the fence, and you can check out How to Read a Poem and Fall in Love with Poetry on Goodreads.
Blogging All-In-One For Dummies by Susan Gunelius
Again, this is directed at a more specific subset of writers (bloggers, duh), but is also useful for anyone who wants to publish their writing and create a brand.
Which (as I've said before) should be all of you. Writing - at least the kind we talk about here on my blog - is as much an identity and a career path as it is an art form. If you want to publish your work on any sort of digital platform, this tome of a book will teach you how to do it.
The term "blogging" means a lot more than it used to. Every time you log into Twitter or LinkedIn and post something, you're doing what Gunelius refers to as microblogging. Engaging with readers and other authors is a part of being a writer, and it pays (oftentimes literally) to be knowledgable about that aspect of the title.
Blogging All-In-One is technically eight small books combined into one monstrous volume, but it's so simply written and accessible that it's easy to read through. You can also just jump around to the parts that interest you, as the book doesn't need to be read in any particular order.
The second edition of Blogging All-In-One for Dummies is available on Thrift Books or via any other major retailer.
Your First Novel by Ann Rittenberg, Laura Whitcomb, and Camille Goldin
From humble start to triumphant finish, your novel is a journey of many steps. This guide takes you from outlining to marketing and stops everywhere in between to help you write a true masterpiece - and get it published.
Written by three experts in the publishing field, Your First Novel isn't just for newbies. Even if you're on your sixth or seventh book, you'll benefit from the accessible advice and tips found in this title.
I myself am a certified disaster, and thus the many pieces of advice regarding organization and planning in this book have helped add some sanity to my process. Even if you THINK you KNOW how to write a book (yeah, I'm looking at you, hotshot), you still have plenty to learn. We all do!
So if you want to really dig in and map out your novel's plan for success, this guide is a great resource. You can find Your First Novel on Amazon or through any major bookseller (make sure to purchase the revised and expanded version instead of the older one).
These 5 books about writing should be helpful to anyone who wants to improve, brand, or otherwise learn about their writing and what it can become. Reading about your craft is one of the tried and true ways to master it - so dig in!
Do you have any book suggestions to add to this list? Drop a title in the comments!
As always, thanks for reading - oh, and stop procrastinating on that word-count goal you set for today.
Until next time!