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13 of the Best Writing Books Out There

13 of the Best Writing Books Out There

eggplant shelf
eggplant shelf

Over the years, I've amassed quite a collection of books about writing and creativity. I keep them stacked on a shelf in my writing room so I can grab one if I get stuck in my scribbling. I'm thrilled to share some of my favorites.

1. BIRD BY BIRD by Ann Lamott
bird by bird
bird by bird

“For some of us, books are as important as almost anything else on earth. What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you. Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and die.” - Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird; Some Instructions on Writing and Life

2. THE WAR OF ART by Stephen Pressfield
war of art border
war of art border

“Are you paralyzed with fear? That’s a good sign. Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do. Remember one rule of thumb: the more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.” - Steven Pressfield, The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles

3. STILL WRITING by Dani Shapiro
Still Writing by Dani Shapiro
Still Writing by Dani Shapiro

“Act as if you're a writer. Sit down and begin. Act as if you might just create something beautiful, and by beautiful I mean something authentic and universal. Don't wait for anybody to tell you it's okay.”- Dani Shapiro,Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life

4. WRITING DOWN THE BONES by Natalie Goldberg
writing down the bones
writing down the bones

“Write what disturbs you, what you fear, what you have not been willing to speak about. Be willing to be split open.”― Natalie Goldberg,Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within

5. ON WRITING by Stephen King
on writing
on writing

“Kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.”― Stephen King,On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

6. THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE by Strunk & White
strunk and white
strunk and white

“A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts.”William Strunk Jr. & E. B. White,The Elements of Style

7. STEAL LIKE AN ARTIST by Austin Kleon
steal like an artist
steal like an artist

“Not everybody will get it. People will misinterpret you and what you do. They might even call you names. So get comfortable with being misunderstood, disparaged, or ignored -- the trick is to be too busy doing your work to care.”― Austin Kleon,Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative

8. BIG MAGIC by Elizabeth Gilbert
big magic
big magic

“Creativity is a path for the brave, yes, but it is not a path for the fearless, and it’s important to recognize the distinction. Bravery means doing something scary. Fearlessness means not even understanding what the word scary means. If your goal in life is to become fearless, then I believe you’re already on the wrong path, because the only truly fearless people I’ve ever met were straight-up sociopaths and a few exceptionally reckless three-year-olds—and those aren’t good role models for anyone.”― Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

9. THE ART OF MEMOIR by Mary Karr
the art of memoir
the art of memoir

“Writing, regardless of the end result—whether good or bad, published or not, well reviewed or slammed—means celebrating beauty in an often ugly world.”Mary Karr,The Art of Memoir

10. THE WRITING LIFE by Annie Dillard
the writing life
the writing life

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour and with that one, is what we are doing.”― Annie Dillard, The Writing Life

11. THE RIGHT TO WRITE by Julia Cameron
the right to write
the right to write

“Being in the mood to write, like being in the mood to make love, is a luxury that isn't necessary in a long-term relationship. Just as the first caress can lead to a change of heart, the first sentence, however tentative and awkward, can lead to a desire to go just a little further.” Julia Cameron, The Right to Write: An Invitation and Initiation into the Writing Life

12. THE SPOOKY ART by Norman Mailer
the spooky art
the spooky art

“More sensitive than others in the beginning, we have to develop the will, the stamina, the determination, and the insensitivity to take critical abuse. A good writer, therefore, does well to see himself as a strong, weak person, full of brave timidity, sensitive and insensitive.” ― Norman Mailer, The Spooky Art: Thoughts on Writing

13. THE COURAGE TO WRITE by Ralph Keyes
the courage to write
the courage to write

“Fear is felt by writers at every level. Anxiety accompanies the first word they put on paper and the last.”― Ralph Keyes,The Courage to Write: How Writers Transcend Fear

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ADR logo

What are your favorite books on writing and creativity?

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