Writing Books Pt2: Books on writing and the artist’s life

Source: acobox.com, by William Hoiles from Basking Ridge, NJ, USA source Wikimedia license CC

Welcome back and good morning as I tell you about some of my favorite books. I confess there was some appeal to breaking last week’s post on my favorite writing books into two parts because this is probably my favorite category, so it gives me a bit more space to chat about them. Again, I have no affiliation with these books or authors other than admiration.

So, why is this my favorite category? Because these are books that I come back to, again and again, when I need encouragement, when I need to think clearly, when I just need someone else’s voice in my head about writing and about what it means to be a writer (especially if my own inner dialogue is a bit less than positive). These books have helped me get over writing slumps, and make my writing stronger and better. And since I can only hope they’ll do the same for you, here they are, ready to be shared.

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

This book gained its place on my shelves because it doesn’t allow excuses for not writing, for not creating, for not doing what you both need and want to do (even if yo don’t feel  like it).  This book will give you a good butt-kicking and make you look at your reasons for not creating, for not accomplishing the most and the best you can, and it can do it again and again every time you open it up. And don’t we all need that every now and then? If you click on the book cover, it will take you to Steven Pressfield’s website, and you can learn more there.

The Writing Warrior by Laraine Herring

There is more to this book than a very pretty cover. 🙂 This book will make you think about your writing process, and in some ways about the entire way you process life, from the moment you wake up to the time you go to sleep, and how that all fits into your writing life (or perhaps should).  Ms. Herring provides exercises at the end of each section that vary from adopting a variety of shaking exercises to clear the mind, morning writing sprints, to an examination of the many illusions we, as writers and artists alike, cling to. My favorite section, and one which I both return to often for encouragement, and which my coming blogs will be related to, is: “Part Three: Dissolving Your Illusions,” particularly looking at “The Writer’s Wheel of Suffering.” If you’ve found yourself on the emotional rollar-coaster that being a writer can lead to – and your work is suffering for it – I highly recommend checking out this book. It’s one of the best I’ve found for not only telling you to get on with your work, no excuses, but also makes you think about those excuses and the reasons behind them more closely in order to hopefully dissolve them. Click on the book to link to the author’s website, and learn more from her directly.

Becoming a Writer by Dorothea Brande

You may have noticed the absence of an author website to accompany this book, and that’s because it was first published in 1934, and was as useful and applicable then as it is today. Whether you’ve been writing for years, or you’re just starting out, as the book jacket promises, this isn’t just another book on writing technique, plotting, conflict, etc. This is a book on what it means, and what it takes to be a writer. It doesn’t promise things will always be easy – quite the opposite, in fact. But it does provide encouragement, a friendly though straight-forward set of advice to keep writing and to succeed, as well as advice and techniques for being the best writer you can. This is yet another book to return to, again and again, especially since it’s a quick read to give you a quick pick-me-up (or kick in the pants, whichever view you prefer). The book jacket should link to a Wikipedia note on Dorthea Brande, but give the title or her name a quick search and you’ll quickly come across other entries. It just didn’t seem fair to link this proud book with only places where it can be purchased, or where others can only now discuss it. Either way, enjoy.

So, I hope you enjoyed this week and the entries for my favorite books on writing and the artist’s life. I have read others, but these are sitting on the shelf beside me, which is why I make mention of them. Are there some I really need to add? What books do you return to again and again, especially when the going gets tough? Thanks for reading, and have a great week.