One of the most unsettling things a writer can say is that they have a phobia of reading other writers’ works. Some would even support their claim with the fact that reading other authors’ books is a self-indictment of their competence. They argue it makes them self-critical of their work or makes them complacent if they find the book below par.
However genuine these reasons may sound, as a writer, it is unpardonable to consume only your works. It is also an error to gauge your competence only based on your audience’s or clients’ feedback. Reading other writers’ work exposes you to other genres and styles of writing. It introduces you to new words, different narrative styles, and perspectives.
More so, reading helps you gather information and hypotheses that may become useful for your writing projects, as books remain one of the most sustainable ways of storing and obtaining information. Therefore, it is a disservice to yourself if you shun other writers’ work because you cannot tell how helpful the work may be.
By now, your mind is already joggling over some books you can read to improve your writing craft. Not to worry; in this article, we will recommend books you can read to improve your writing skills.
Here we go:
- Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert: this beautiful piece is a must-read for every creative. The book is recommended for every writer who has lost his muse and needs inspiration, as it is a light that shines into a writer’s dark moment and pulls a creative out of his low ebb. Elizabeth was able to mix practical advice and mystical belief about the power of art and how stories can locate us when we are open to them. The book had inspiring chapters like Courage, Enchantment, Permission, Persistence, Trust, and Divinity.
- On Writing by Stephen King: this is one of the best memoirs on writing. It contains practical counsel and inspiration from one of the most renowned masters of the craft. His usage of personifications is highly commendable and engages your imaginative prowess without measure.
- The War of Art by Steven Pressfield: this is one of the best books you can use to combat the forces holding you from performing your creative task. It will suffice for any creative field but since writing is Steven’s call, most of the instances he uses involve writers. Although some of Steven’s attitudes can be dated, his methods are quite sound and capable of pushing you to do the work you aspire to do, irrespective of the obstacles you may encounter.
- A Writer’s Diary by Virginia Woolf: sometimes, we think the processes that cumulate into a beautifully written work are always seamless. This sometimes leaves us discouraged with our own craft. But in this book, Woolf gives a view into the writer’s world of self-doubt, tedious revisions, poorly written drafts, and all the sweat that goes into producing a good book. This book will be very helpful in dispelling those encumbrances that a project throws at you.
- Make Good Art by Neil Gaiman: Gaiman has continued to inspire budding writers with his collection of speeches and journalistic writings, which he condensed into a beautiful book. He encourages writers to keep writing because you only get better in the craft with consistent practice. He writes about how to manage failures and successes as a writer, which is imperative for every writer to be aware of. He addresses the usefulness of mistakes and how mistakes show that you are indeed doing something, which is the most important thing. Gaiman stresses the importance of making good art regardless of your circumstances. Make good art, as Neil Gaiman observes, whether it’s a bad day or a good day.
- Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott: Lamott writes about the ‘Shitty First Drafts’, which I think every writer is guilty of. The crux of this is that the first draft is usually filled with flaws which sometimes can dissuade you from pushing further. Lamott admonishes writers to write badly, get it down, and then improve it later. She reaffirms that it is only through this method that you will end up with good second and terrific third drafts.
The book also provides valuable insights on characters, plot, dialogue, and setting writing.
- Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg: this book can be very useful if you are setting out as a writer. looking for how to start over again.
- Successful Self-Publishing by Joanna Penn: this book is helpful to writers who intend to publish their work and start earning from it as soon as possible. It has clear information on writing, and the author is credited with a series of independently published fantasy thrillers.
- The Organised Writer by Antony Johnston: the book teaches how to function as a writer, how to efficiently juggle multiple projects and organise them properly on your folders, and the process of transferring them to your notes. As a writer, this can be very helpful in organising your projects and your writing space.
It is pertinent to note that it is difficult to succeed as a writer without drawing from other writers’ wealth of experience. However, it is also advisable to be conscious of the works you consume; choose to be more intentional about the choice of the books you read.