Books About Writing

Jo was putting in an Amazon order the other day and asked if I needed anything. Which, I mean… I think we all know the answer to that right? But I thought about the huge pile of books sitting up on my ‘To Be Read’ shelf and the multitude of electronic titles I have waiting to be read and I decided to be responsible and say no. Then I had a flash of inspiration. “You know what I could use?” I said. “I could really use to replace my copy of On Writing.”

This is my copy of On Writing:

On Writing

It doesn’t look too bad, does it? Well, not until you look at it like this:

On Writing Pages

It’s water-stained and pretty beaten up.

For the record, I bought it second hand and it was like that when I bought it. It really was. But I wanted the book pretty badly so I paid actual, real money for it despite the condition it was in. And I’ve read it cover to cover at least three times since then, so, ya know, apparently the damage didn’t bother me all THAT much.

But now, thanks to Jo, I have this:

New On Writing

Which, as you’ll notice from my sexy paint chip bookmark, I’ve already started reading again.

And that got me thinking about ‘how to write’ books and how many I own. The answer to that question, in case you’re curious, is three:


And I recommend every one.

On Writing by Stephen King is an amazing combination of autobiography and master class on writing. Like I said, I’ve read it at least three times cover to cover and I’m on my way through it again. I find this book super inspiring. It never fails to get me fired up about writing again on days when I’m just not feeling it.

Steering the Craft by Ursula K. LeGuin is fantastic. I’m not done reading it — I’m working my way through it with my ‘Mutinous Crew’ and life has been getting in our ways a lot lately, but what I have read has been great, and the writing exercises are interesting (which is more than can be said for most writing exercises, amirite?). This book has also added several titles to my TBR list and the ones I’ve read have been whole lessons in themselves.

Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass is phenomenal. I don’t know if you can see in this picture but I’ve got tons and tons of Post-it notes marking sections of this book. I feel like I’ve internalized a lot of the lessons but then every time I go back to skim through something or another I learn (or re-learn) new things.

For myself it’s important that I spend more time writing rather than learning about writing (because reading about writing is just another form of procrastination for me, and I am already the freaking queen of procrastination) so the ‘Books about Writing’ section in my library must remain small, but these three titles come with the highest of recommendations from me and I can’t imagine that I’ll ever part with them.

What about you? What does your ‘Books about Writing’ section look like?

ETA: Oh! I also have a copy of Story: Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting by Robert McKee on my e-reader, but I haven’t read it yet.

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