I know there are thousands of books available all claiming to help spark your creativity into action. So if you are like me and sometimes need help but don’t know where to start looking, I’ve compiled a list of my favorite books and references to share with you so don’t have to waste your time searching and can get straight back to writing.
Here they are, in no specific order, except for the first one.
1) William Strunk Jr’s The Elements of Style, by E. B. White
I am a strong believer that one must first know the rules before we break them. So this classic reference book is a must-have for all writers. From here, you are only limited by your inspiration and creativity.
2) Description and Setting, by Ron Rozelle
Dull stories will never be successful so this book will give you the tools you need to tweak out the dead details and make your story come alive. Rozelle uses examples from popular fiction to demonstrate his points and offers exercises for you to grow as a writer.
3) The Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing, by Mignon Fogarty
If you don’t already know about Mignon Fogarty’s weekly podcast, you need to find it right away. In the meantime, here are many of her quick and dirty tips in one place for you to reference.
4) Just Write, by James Scott Bell
In this book by a veteran writing coach you'll learn how to discover what readers really want, persevere through the challenges of getting started, and conquer writer's block.
5) Tinkertoys, a handbook of creative-thinking techniques, by Michael Michalko
If you are a writer stuck in a rut then this book is for you. It offers practical training exercises to get you thinking differently, outside of your usual pattern. Michalko’s techniques have been very successful.
6 & 7) The 3 A.M. Epiphany, Uncommon Writing Exercises that Transform your Fiction, by Brian Kiteley
Sometimes our best ideas come at the most inopportune times: at 3 o'clock in the morning, in the shower, while driving (that’s the most frustrating for me!) or during a business meeting at work. In this book, the director of the University of Denver’s creative writing program has compiled more than 200 intriguing writing exercises to help you think, write, and revise anywhere, anytime. If that’s not enough, I also recommend The 4 A.M. Breakthrough for more exercises and advice that go beyond the overused schoolhouse prompts.
8) The War of Art, Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield
It has been referred to as tough love for creatives. This book uses practical, common sense ideas, bypassing the huggy-feely pandering that other books might offer. Read this book when you need a kick in the pants.
9) Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, by Anne Lamott
This book is either loved or hated by creatives. I happen to love it. After a sweet introduction, the remaining sections of the book offer both writing advice and life lessons for the writer. I highly recommend this hilarious reference.
10) On Writing: 10th Anniversary Edition: A Memoir of the Craft, deluxe edition, by Stephen King
If Anne Lamott’s book is a little too tree-hugging for some, then Stephen King’s book, which is part memoir part inspirational guide, will appeal to a broader audience. King freely hands out practical advice, inspiration and a few techniques to us inspiring writers. Even if you are not a fan of his books, you will benefit from his advice and his experiences.