What a privilege it is to write! To observe and imagine things all the time and spontaneously jot them down on the pages. And of course, not everyone has that privilege.
We all know the saying, “The pen is mightier than the sword”. The ideas that are expressed in writing are much more ensuing than violence. This makes us realize the power of writers. Undeniably, writers have a great power to change people, their life, and the world around them. Their writings can influence and inspire countless people, expand their knowledge, and provide them new perspectives of life.
Being a good writer is a talent. Only the gifted ones produce such works that have lasting effects on readers. But have you ever thought about what separates a good writer from an average one? What factors contribute to advance someone’s career as a good writer? And what actually makes good writers good?
A good writer is the one who takes his or her years of study, observation and hard-earned life lessons and condenses them down in an easy-to-read format. They work to find their own voice and create a writing style that successfully connects their audience to the story. But to create a writing style that will work well and to hone their skills, writers must need to study. They don’t just have to read their favorite books, but they should study them with devotion.
Even if you’re a good writer, there’s still a lot of room for interpretation and improvisation in your writings. In order to advance your career as a successful writer, you must learn from those who have come before you. You must listen to their advice and ideas for how to conquer the empty pages with your thoughts.
10 Amazing Books to Advance Your Career as a Writer
Here is the list of 10 must-read books for writers. They are all worth reading and must be in your writing toolkit. These books will help in increasing your productivity and improving your skills in both fiction and non-fiction. Have a look at them and read them to advance your career as a writer.
1. Steven Pinker’s The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century
Steven Pinker’s The Sense of Style can be a worthy addition to any writer’s library.
The book suggests that the art of writing can be a fascinating intellectual topic and a form of pleasurable mastery in its own right. Pinker insists that any writer must be an enthusiastic reader. Using linguistics and cognitive science, Pinker’s The Sense of Style explains which type of the style of writing the writers should aim for and why it is so hard to achieve. He takes various examples from current literature to support his statements and keeps the reader engaged with his amusing style of writing.
The book is charming, witty, and insightful. It’s clarity and erudite makes it a significant gem for writers as well as avid readers. It is a highly recommended book for writers. It will give you a lot of practical tips for improving your writing skills.
2. William Zinsser’s On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction
A directional book on making your writing better, Zinsser’s On Writing Well is explicit and so brimming with wisdom. This is perhaps one of the best books you could find on writing.
The book offers so many useful tips on the fundamentals of writing any kind of nonfiction. You can still read it if you are a fiction writer. The book comprises four parts. The first part of the book covers the core principles of writing. The second part suggests some specific methods and techniques of good writing. The third part discusses various forms of nonfiction and how to craft them (you may skip it if you are a fiction writer). While the fourth part talks about the attitudes a good writer should have.
Explicit, dense, and rich, On Writing Well is a must-read for every writer. Zinsser uses many examples from books and magazine articles to highlight his points and navigate the balance between theory and practice. You can learn invaluable lessons from this book to improve your writing.
3. Colum McCann’s Letters To A Young Writer
Colum McCann’s Letters To A Young Writer is an elegant compendium of advice to aspiring authors.
Concise, witty, and forceful, the book dispenses wisdom in brief and easily digestible chapters. It comprises fifty-two letters to ‘Young Writers’ covering technical aspects of writing, business side of things, tips for handling bad reviews and sound advice around the craft itself. In fact, the book is dense with practical and philosophical advice as well as insightful ideas.
The honesty and insights of McCann has made the book such a captivating read. He asks his readers to look outward rather than inward. He encourages them to constantly push the boundaries of experience and see empathy and wonder in the stories they craft. All of those young writers out there who are struggling with their craft must read this book to hone their skills.
4. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
Immensely helpful and illuminating, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft is another must-read instruction manual for any aspiring writer or content creator.
This book by a master storyteller consists of two parts. The first part centers on King’s writing life spanning his vivid memories of success from the school newsletter to earning enough money from his writing to change his life. While in the second part the book discusses useful writing techniques and guidelines. So, besides being a writing manual, this book is also a semi-autobiography. It is, in fact, a revealing and practical view of the author’s craft.
Inspiring, friendly, and brilliantly structured, King’s book of guidance for writers is full of clarity and vigorous instructions. It contains so much invaluable stuff which can empower every writer. While giving guidelines and tips on writing, the book also keeps the reader entertained.
5. On Teaching and Writing Fiction by Wallace Stegner
Stegner’s On Teaching and Writing Fiction will benefit anyone interested in writing fiction or exploring ideas about the role of fiction in the broader culture.
Wallace Stegner developed and taught Stanford University’s writing program for 44 years. It caused him to think deeply about the process of writing, writers’ creativity and teaching fiction writing. His thinking eventually came out in this 120+ page volume. Stegner not merely taught the craft but could also do it successfully. His Angel of Repose won a Pulitzer Prize while The Spectator Bird won a National Book Award.
On Teaching and Writing Fiction is a collection of eight essays including some previously uncollected writings by Stegner on all aspects of fiction writing. It focuses on the writer’s vision, creativity, style as well as his or her audience. The book is not especially concerned with how to write but rather with what to get at when writing.
6. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott
Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life is a step-by-step guide on how to write and on how to manage the writer’s life.
Lamott has authored several novels, columns and reviews, and also taught the process of writing. In her book, she shares her offbeat wisdom and gives several instructions to aspiring writers. Witty, honest and insightful, Lamott’s book explains her approach to writing. It also explains how one can find the focus, commitment, and discipline necessary to hone his or her craft.
You can learn from this book how to deal with and knock down the dreaded “writer’s block”, what is the importance of writing a “shitty first draft” , and how to find your true voice as an author. The book is an absolute must-read.
7. Alice Mattison’s The Kite and the String: How to Write with Spontaneity and Control—and Live to Tell the Tale
The Kite and the String by Alice Mattison is an insightful guide to the stages of writing fiction and memoir without falling into common traps.
This book, from an award-winning author and a longtime teacher, tells us that writing is not a product of rules and instructions. Rather, it is a mixture of spontaneity, judgment, and a wise attitude toward the work. Mattison, instead of rules and techniques, uses personal anecdotes and examples of problems her students have faced to inspire her readers’ imaginations and boost their efforts. She also offers close readings of a wide range of fiction to teach her readers.
The Kite and the String compels writers to let their kite—spontaneity and playfulness—move with the winds of feeling while still holding on to the string. It will breathe life into their work and also keep it from flying away. This book is wise, brilliant, funny, and full of pragmatic wisdom. It is a sincere and empathetic companion of every one who wants to advance his or her career as a writer. You must read, and re-read it.
8. Negotiating With Dead: A Writer on Writing by Margaret Atwood
Margaret Atwood’s Negotiating with Dead comprises a series of lectures she delivered at the University of Cambridge about writing.
The book focuses on the writers’ relationship with their craft. The writer says that fiction writers have to make a journey to what she terms the Underworld, the place where the dead reside. They have to see what the dead offer and what they can wrestle back from darkness to light. In short, they’ve to bring to light some knowledge not previously beheld.
Atwood, throughout her book, also warns about the dangers of this journey. According to her, anyone who goes down into the dark world may risk the loss of faith, creativity, sanity, and even life. She concludes the book saying that only an artist who is willing to take such risks and brings “something or someone back from the dead,” can produce a work of lasting worth. This book is not an easy read. So, slackers must avoid it.
In this book, much is explained, but much more is implied. You’ve to read it very carefully.
9. A Writer’s Notebook by W. Somerset Maugham
A Writer’s Notebook is another must read book for everyone interested in advancing his or her career as a writer.
Filled with autobiographical notes and observations, A Writer’s Notebook gives an exciting and unique account of a great writer’s mind at work. Maugham opens his book by debating over the benefits of keeping a diary. He observes that keeping a notebook has forced him to clarify his thoughts. According to Maugham, keeping a notebook encourages the writers to be curious, thoughtful, inquisitive about the world. It also encourages them to find creative solutions to the problems they encounter.
Maugham’s book entertains the readers with its anecdotal narrative. It also gives an insight to the potential of his incomparable vision and his remarkable career as a writer. We can give an indulgent smile while reading the small notes and observations in the book that were eventually transformed into his popular stories. Playful, exceptional, and divulging, A Writer’s Notebook is undoubtedly one of Maugham’s most significant works.
10. A Writer’s Life by Gay Talese
Wordy, gossipy, and deeply impassioned, A Writer’s Life provides a narrative of false starts and dead ends for a troubled writer.
Gay Talese is a most influential non-fiction American writer. This book is his autobiography and recounts the experiences and struggles of Talese as a writer. He has written in the book about the interplay between a writer’s experience and his writings.
Beginning with a discussion of the 1999 women’s World Cup soccer final, the book covers some of the high and low points of the writer’s life. It tells us what inspired the author’s writings and how he looked in vain for the elusive and engrossing topic to satisfy his readers and editors. The book also contains some good moments for readers with admiration for the author or the patience to stay with his twiddling writing style.
All these amazing books will help boost your career as a good writer. As Stephen King in his On Writing says that, “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” Besides reading and writing, it is also our constant practice and experiences with our writings that help us in making us good writers.
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