Hello my dear fellow creative writers!
Do you remember the first advice you were given when you embarked on your writing journey? Probably something along the lines of ‘Write and Read‘ or ‘Read and Write‘. And it is true, nothing helps more than reading – to learn how other people write and how language is used to tell a story or poetry – and to do what you want to improve; writing.
Now, as you’re reading other people’s stories and writing your own stories; what else can you do? Work on your vocabulary, improve your grammar – and read about writing (you could also write about reading, or read about reading! So many possibilities). I think, this is very good advice. Almost any popular author has written a book about writing. Telling their writing journey and giving advice to aspiring writers. Pick up these books from your favourite authors; authors who write similar to your style, or you just wanna know how they do it. Stephen King, Haruki Murakami, and Marian Keyes; so many published their writing manifestos. Here is the one that has helped me the most:
Chuck Palahniuk, you may know his book Fight Club or the movie adaptation with Brad Pitt and Edward Norton, is famous for his vulgar topics and minimalistic writing style. In Consider This he tells us how he started and developed his writing (plus, some tragic events that took place in his life. His father was almost murdered by his father when he was a child, survived by hiding under the bed, only to be murdered years later by his girlfriend’s ex. No wonder Chuck writes gruesome stories.), his writing groups and writing tutors, meeting his fans, and how to actually improve your writing. He gives clear, concise, and good advice. Of all the author books I’ve read so far, this one is my favourite. Just skimming the pages right now makes me want to re-read it. It’s a book that keeps on giving. Other books that authors wrote about the art of writing:
Stephen King – On Writing
Haruki Murakami – Novelist as a Vocation
Marian Keyes – Making It Up As I Go Along
Ernest Hemingway – On Writing
David Lodge wrote short essays about several aspects of writing for a magazine which he all brought together in The Art of Fiction. This is an interesting read and quite different from authors just telling their writing stories. 50 topics; from how to start a story to how to end a story are briefly touched upon, and short extracts of books from famous authors such as Virginia Woolf, E.A. Poe, Jane Austen, and Thomas Hard, are given. He writes about genres such as Surrealism and Magic Realism, practical things such as titles, ideas, metafiction, and the weather, and stylistic devices such as the stream-of-consciousness, epiphanies, repetitions, etc. Everything is in digestible proportions and may give you some ideas and inspiration for your own writing.
When it comes to writing there is always more to writing. Only someone who doesn’t write thinks the only thing you do is sit down and write. The Successful Author Mindset mainly addresses independent authors (who have to self-promote much more than authors who do it the traditional way; though, today everyone has to sell themselves). Joanna talks about the mindset of writing, writer’s blocks, perfectionism etc, basically all the things that may hinder you from writing or believing in yourself. She also talks about (the mindset) aspects of publishing and after publishing and gives tips for the author journey. One thing, even though I have heard it before, became crystal clear to me after reading this book: As a writer (as it is with any creative profession), your name is your business. You have to put yourself out there, entice people, and sell yourself. It is motivating to hear a self-published author speak about her journey and that she can now fully live from her writing (a privilege not many writers enjoy). So many people want to become writers, competition is hard and time always a scarcity. Unfortunately, no matter how often and for how long writers complain, writing is not enough anymore. You have to put yourself out there, make connections, and learn how the publishing industry work, market/sale (depending on whether you go self-publishing/indie/traditional).
Of course this list wouldn’t be complete without a grammar book. Grammar is one of the most important aspects of language. When you learn a new language it might be on the same level as vocabulary, but once you’ve accummulated a good foundation of words, I would argue, grammar is essential for mastering a language. And as a writer, you want to make sure that you’ve mastered the language that you want to write in. As an English non-native speaker this is something I always strive to improve, and something that always gives me a headache (mainly, because there are just too many words in the English language! And this is coming from a German!) Here’s something that I consider a fact: No native-speaker has really mastered their own language. Not UNLESS they sat down and worked on it. All Germans make mistakes. All English-speakers make mistakes. The mistakes differ from native-speaker to non-native speaker, but the fact remains: we can’t speak a language perfectly. We all make mistakes. But we also all can learn to improve our language skills. I believe in the power of words (as well as in its limits). Language can be art; just read a good poem. We can practise and learn every day. I know, grammar books don’t sound like fun, but actually, these two authors made this book quite entertaining! It helps you to improve your grammar, and it includes some sassy and sarcastic remarks. It’s not just informative but also a quite entertaining read. Just don’t read it like a novel.
Last but not least, this big bad boy. Every year the Writers’ & Artists‘ release a yearbook (ah, that’s why it’s called a yearbook, so clever!) with all the agents, writing magazines, and newspaper; tips on writing a cover letter, synopsis, self-publishing, finance, resources etc. This is like a phone directory but for writers and with much more! It also gives you lists of prizes and awards, editorial services, etc. Everything you need to take your creative writing career to the next level! I haven’t read much yet, but just skimming through the pages I am blown away by how much it has to offer. I definitely have to take this from my cupboard more often! I’d argue, this book is actually a must for all writers who want to become professional creative writers. If you are thinking about submitting your manuscripts to agents, starting your own magazine, or blogging – get this book!
Those are my five recommendations. Do you have any books about writing you love? Share them with everyone in the comment section! I hope you have a great day and keep on writing!