Here are my 40 favorite books about writing, the books I’d swear by and beg you to read.
These books help me feel like I’m not alone. They help me work through problems I didn’t even know I had. And they give me enormous amounts of courage to keep pressing on.
After reading more than a hundred books on writing, I’ve narrowed it down to my top 40.
by Garrett Calcaterra
1. I Don’t Write Every Day
The writing advice you most often hear is something to the effect of, “If you want to be a successful author, you need to write every day.”
I mean, I work as a freelance writer and editor, so yeah, I write something every day, but not my own creative work. Sometimes I’ll go as long as a couple of weeks, maybe even a month, without writing anything that’s my own.
2. When I Do Write, I Binge
The longest writing session I’ve ever had was 27 hours, but that was back when I was a good deal younger.
Everybody has writing tips for authors, especially people who aren’t writers. “Write about vampires,” your cousin says. “Write something like Harry Potter,” your niece says.
These writing tips are generally unhelpful, to say the least.
Which is why all this writing advice from 50 famous authors is simply stupendous. You get access into the brains of 50 very famous authors, to get the best tips for writing, and it’s not abstract hypotheticals but based on what they practice.
(If you don’t need writing advice but only some inspiration, check out my recent article on how famous writers get inspired).
How many times have you heard “when it rains, it pours” or “everything happens for a reason”? These clichés are like a broken record (cliché intended).
Clichés are phrases or sayings that have been overused and said too much and completely lack originality. As originality is key in any sort of writing, especially creative writing, clichés are the enemy for writers and should be avoided.
When you’re weighing the option of using a cliche in your writing, ask yourself this question: can you say something better than something that has been said for hundreds of years?
It’s a high bar, I know. But that’s where the power of being a true writer comes out. No person can tell your story better than you, the one that came up with it. Use your words to tell your story, not a phrase that is thrown into every classic.
I spent a few years as an actress in Los Angeles, waiting for someone to give me a job, before deciding to explore my writing skills, with the goal of writing my next big movie and starring in it.
So I set out to become a Writer. What I learned is that writers and actors have a lot in common. We are both working to develop characters. We both create entire people and entire lives from scratch. From the way those characters look, to the way they think, the way they walk, stare, talk, laugh, and cry; we develop the pain that fuels these characters to make choices.