The Five Best Books On Writing

(Interested in learning to become a professional writer? Check out the uber popular course, Tribe Writers, that my friend Jeff puts on. It’s open until midnight tonight, March 31.)

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I sound like a broken record when I talk about reading. I read a ton, it’s a huge priority in my life, and I seek out great books constantly.

Yada yada yada.

When it comes to writing, I do talk about it some, but not enough. The truth is, I love to write. I also hate it, of course, and want to cut off my hands at times, but that’s secondary in the face of feeling a published book in my hand. My third and fourth traditionally published books will come out in the next six months, and this excites me to no end.

(Interested in learning to become a professional writer? Check out the uber popular course, Tribe Writers, that my friend Jeff puts on. It’s open until midnight tonight, March 31.)

But learning to write well, and practicing the art of writing, is a constant challenge, and a constant issue I need to make a priority in my life. So, as I do with all things I want to do well, I read about it in hopes of getting better.

Here are my five favorite books on writing.

Don’t want to buy all five? Just get the first, and call it a day.

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

The one book you need to read? This one. I’m biased, because Lamott is one of my all-time favorite writers. That said, I’m not that biased, because this book often tops the “Best Books on Writing” lists you see out there. It’s amazingly funny, endearing, accurate, and helpful all at once. Also, who wouldn’t love a woman who sends out such amazing tweets as this one.

The Clockwork Muse: A Practical Guide to Writing Theses, Dissertations, and Books

I find it strange that I never see this book on lists of great books on writing, when I believe it an essential guide. In reality, this is a book that does double duty as a great motivator to write, and a great motivator to manage your time. It’s not long, and I’ve read it multiple times over the years for good reason.

The Writing Life

Annie Dillard writes words in gold, and this book is no exception. For a lyrical take on what it means to string words together and touch pen to page, Dillard is your girl.  Don’t turn to this for practical nitty-gritty, but rather for overarching motivation.

My Reading Life

Pat Conroy, author of such mega bestsellers as Prince of Tides, writes a wonderful book about not just reading (as the title indicates) but writing as well. Touching on the writing process, as well as some of the highs and lows of his own career, it’s a great memoir of what it takes to be a writer.

The War of Art: Break through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles

Steven Pressfield is known for short tomes that get you to work, and the War of Art is as motivating as they come. Writer’s block? Extreme procrastination? Deadline missing right and left? This book will help.

Want to learn to be a better writer and turn your writing life into a writing career? My friend Jeff’s wildly popular course, Tribe Writers, is open until March 31 at midnight.

Check out the details here.

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4 thoughts on “The Five Best Books On Writing

  1. Thanks for this Claire. As a huge reader myself and a writer, I am collector or ‘books on writing’ I thought I had amassed quite a collection but I have never come across The Clockwork Muse…will check it out:-)

  2. I have two of the five:
    Bird by Bird
    The Writing Life
    You have introduced to me the War of Art, I will have to check it out.
    Thank you very much.

  3. How can you be in the writing world and not have MAD LOVE for Anne? Bird by Bird has stood the test of time, a perfect balance of style + substance.

    I haven’t read any of the rest of your suggestions but The War of Art has been on my list; and I can’t believe I haven’t read Pat Conroy’s yet! How have I missed it? Thanks for keeping this list manageable :).