My secret dream has always been to be a writer–probably because I love to read so much! It can be a daunting task, and it helps to have a patient and understanding guide. Here are three books that I feel are warm, engaging and accessible guides to becoming a writer. They are as much about creativity and life as writing so they are great reads even if you have no intention of being a writer. It is interesting to get an “inside view” of a writer’s mind and see how they do it–especially one as prolific and popular as Stephen King. (Even if you don’t like Stephen King, you’ll enjoy this book.
- Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott
- On Writing by Stephen King
- If You Want to Write: A Book About Art, Independence and Spirit by Brenda Ueland
A little more information on each book…
This is a “warts and all” guide to a writer’s life by one of my favorite authors. Lamott shares her realities as a writer and writing instructor, with a down-to-earth style that makes you feel like you can write too. The title is a reference to the advice her writer father gave to his son when he was struggling with a book report about birds: “Just take it bird by bird.” And it is that kind of succinct and realistic advice you’ll find here. And as the title says, the lessons aren’t just about writing…they are about living too.
When an author as prolific as Stephen King writes a book about writing, it is worth listening to. You don’t have to like King’s books to enjoy this one, however. What you’ll find is the genesis and development of King as a writer, an inside glimpse into an author’s reality, and extremely practical information and guidance on becoming a writer yourself. Great stuff by a brilliant and often underrated author.
This is a book that all writers – professional and amateurs – should keep and revisit every once in a while. Ueland is like a really supportive and generous friend who coaches you in finding the writer within you and letting go of the fears and insecurities that are holding you back. Like the other books on writing, it is not just about writing but being an authentic and creative person. At the heart of the book is the simple edict: A writer must write. It doesn’t get any simpler (or harder) than that!