The best 4 books for aspiring writers

The best 4 books for aspiring writers

“People say, ‘What advice do you have for people who want to be writers?’ I say, they don’t really need advice, they know they want to be writers, and they’re gonna do it. Those people who know that they really want to do this and are cut out for it, they know it.”

— R.L. Stine

I often find myself thinking about this quote.

As someone that dreams of writing a book (or several), I always seem to find myself coming up with excuses for why I can’t write or why what I’ve written isn’t good enough. But, in the past year, I found myself overcoming at least some of these hurdles and managed to get down 23,000 words on a novel I’m working on. Some of that was just sitting in a chair and putting in the work, but I believe a big part was finding the right inspiration.

In 2019, I really made it my mission to learn how to write and how to give myself permission to write badly. I struggle with wanting everything to be perfect, but I found 4 key books that helped me overcome that and get the ball rolling.

The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron

It’s a classic and it’s a classic for a reason. Whatever creative endeavor you’re into, Julia Cameron wants to help get you creating again . If you know what you want to do (writing a book, learn photography, etc.), but can’t get yourself to actually get started and do it—this is the book for you. But, it’s important to take this book week by week and actually do the morning pages, artist dates, and more. Just reading the book with no action won’t get you anywhere.

On Writing by Stephen King

I liked this book for a reason that I wasn’t really expecting when I started it. I expected this book to contain some big secret on writing, especially as it comes from someone that’s written so many best-selling books and so many books that have been adapted into movies. But honestly, what I learned from this one, is there is no big secret to writing. You just have to write. (Also, that Stephen King hates adverbs and believes in just saying ‘said’.)

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

I’m a big fan of this book and I love lending it out to others. It helps reinforce the idea that we are all creative people with creative ideas. She’s all about giving yourself permission to create and really losing yourself in the process, even if the end result is just for your own enjoyment. You don’t have to read this book all at once. In fact, I like picking it back up whenever I need a surge of inspiration and motivation.

Save the Cat! Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody

While I love books that give me inspiration to write, I feel like this book actually gets down to the heart of it all. If you have an idea, but have no idea where to go from there, you need this book. It helps you break down a story/book/movie into three acts, which are then subdivided into 15 beats. It’s full of examples from real books to help you see the beats in action. This one was a real game changer in getting started and having some idea of where my story was going.

3 thoughts on “The best 4 books for aspiring writers

  1. Great list! I’ve read 2.5 of the books you’ve listed and would agree they are helpful. Is the book you’re writing fiction or nonfiction, and do you think it helps or hurts to have a strong outline before writing?

    1. I’m attempting to write a fiction book, but I believe if your goal was to write non-fiction, all of the books on this list excluding ‘Save the Cat! Writes a Novel’ would be helpful as they tend to focus on creativity and the creative process.

      When it comes to outline, I’m still undecided. In the past, I never outlined and really hated the whole process of attempting to outline. But after running into walls and creative blocks, I’ve found having some sort of an outline, however brief, can really help you move forward. I also think if you’re outline is too strong and too detailed, you don’t leave any room for big creative insights that can totally change the course of your whole work.

      But this is just what works for me, I would love to hear your thoughts on this.

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