Six Books on How to be a Better Writer

Want to know how to be a better writer?

Writers tend to read a lot. They read books, magazines, online articles, cereal boxes, ingredients lists, and pretty much anything else you can think of. Writers read about writing too. We like to delve into the world of our idols to learn their secrets and somehow absorb their genius into our own work. It helps.

Here are six books on how to be a better writer.

Six Books on How to be a Better Writer

How to be a Better Writer

Writing is hard.

How to be a Better Writer Book 01 :: Bird by Bird

Bird by Bird is a cheeky memoir-esque take on writing written by Anne Lamott. This delightful instruction manual of sorts can even be applied to life in general. What I like about Bird by Bird is that Anne Lamott tells it to you straight. She tells you not everyone has what it takes to be great, that writing takes a lot of work, and that “good writing is about telling the truth.” What makes something true may be more complicated than you think!

“You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” —Anne Lamott

How to be a Better Writer Book 02 :: Writing Down the Bones

Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg is my go to writing prompt bible. On many occasion, I’ve sat in a café with this lovely book and gotten lost in imaginary worlds by answering her creativity cues. This is a good resource for those of you looking for journaling ideas too.

How to be a Better Writer Book 03 :: Old Friend from Far Away

Another Natalie Goldberg book to help nudge your creativity is Old Friend from Far Away. This is another good resource for journaling as it focuses on initiating memoir writing. I find the writing prompts in Old Friend from Far Away to be more uncomfortable to delve into… in a good way.

How to be a Better Writer Book 04 :: Negotiating with the Dead

Margaret Atwood is an iconic Canadian author, and one of my earliest writing idols. She authored Negotiating with the Dead that answers the question “what do we mean when we say that someone is a writer?” This book on how to be a better writer is currently on my nightstand and reads like a memoir similar to Bird by Bird.

There are four ways of arranging literary worth and money: good books that make money; bad books that make money; good books that don’t make money; bad books that don’t make money. Those are the only four combinations. All are possible.” —Margaret Atwood

How to be a Better Writer Book 05 :: The Writing Life

If you want a quick read on how to be a better writer then grab a copy of Annie Dillard’s The Writing Life. I think I read the 111 pages in a single sitting back in the day. It’s rich with wisdom for how to be a better writer and hard to put down.

How to be a Better Writer Book 06 :: The Artist’s Way

The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron is not about writing, but you can learn a lot about how to be a better writer by taking care of your sensitive inner artist. I’ve read through this self-help book several times and always learn something new about myself. If you’re feeling the ache of writers’ block, then dive into this one—or try these some of these writers’ block tips.

What are your favorite books on how to be a better writer?!

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