I've read far too many books on writing.
And almost all of them were a waste of time.
But there are 8 books I find myself returning to over and over again. And it's these 8 books I recommend to every beginner writer.
Whether you want to start writing everyday, stop procrastinating, or overcome a crippling perfectionism, these are the writing books worth your time to read:
Atomic Habits by James Clear
This book has nothing to do with writing.
Yet, it's been one of the most impactful ones I've read since I started my own writing journey.
Because it's a book that teaches you one thing: how to do what you say you're going to do.
If you want to learn how to apply these principles to build your daily writing habit, check out this article.
The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
Writing is a daily battle with the Resistance.
But what's the Resistance? The powerful, universally experienced force that keeps individuals from realizing their full potential. And until you're aware of this tension, it will dominate you.
This book will teach you how to recognize, fight and overcome the Resistance every single day.
The best part? The principles and strategies laid out here go far beyond writing. Your health, wealth, relationships - anything - it all starts with overcoming the Resistance.
It changed my life and I'm sure it'll change yours too.
Show Your Work by Austin Kleon
The idea of the writer slaving away for months in solitude is no longer true.
Now the best writers are sharing all of their ideas in public, iterating, and constantly getting feedback. By sharing work you are already doing, you expose yourself to the unlimited upside of the internet. And by letting the world know what you're interested in, you become a magnet for likeminded people.
This book distills the winning mindset of the modern writer and creator.
The Art and Business of Online Writing by Nicolas Cole
This book is a masterclass in the art of capturing and keeping attention online.
Nicolas Cole has been writing online for 10+ years. He started his journey when he was just 17 years old as a gaming blogger. And since then, his writing has accumulated tens of millions of views while ghostwriting for CEOs, famous artists and Olympic athletes.
Everything he's learned about online writing is in this book.
This book leads to more 🤯🤯🤯 feelings than any other book out there.
On Writing by Stephen King
Times have changed, but there's still so much we can learn from Stephen King.
Half memoir, half instruction manual, this book is packed with incredible stories, insights and tips. A fascinating look into the mind of one the greatest writers of our times.
My favorite highlight was his take on overcoming distractions:
“If possible, there should be no telephone in your writing room, certainly no TV or video games for you to fool around with. If there’s a window, draw the curtains or pull down the shades unless it looks out at a blank wall."
On Writing Well by William Zinsser
This book is a timeless guide for writing clearly.
It has sold over one million copies. And after 30+ years since its initial publication, On Writing Well continues to be an easy and incredibly relevant read. These were 2 of my favorite highlights:
"Clear thinking becomes clear writing; one can’t exist without the other."
"The reader is someone with an attention span of about 30 seconds— a person assailed by many forces competing for attention."
Elements of Style by Shrunk and White
Simply put, this is the best book on the craft of writing out there.
In less than 100 pages, this book will teach all you need to know about English grammar, punctuation and structure. After reading it, your writing will be more concise, clean and potent.
My favorite rule:
"The reader is dissatisfied with being told only what is not; he wishes to be told what is. Hence, as a rule, it is better to express a negative in positive form."
The Creative Habit by Twyla Twarp
Twyla Tharp was a prolific polymath (and an excellent writer).
Although this book is about creativity in general, it's also jampacked with great writing advice. 3 great, actionable takeaways:
- Have a daily writing ritual
- Keep your writing organized
- Always stop in the middle to make it easy to pick up later
Full of fascinating historical examples and anecdotes, this book will help you master your craft, unlock consistency and become prolific.
One reminder before you go
Reading is great, but writing is better.
Reading books on writing feels productive. And it is! Until a certain point.
Then, it turns into procrastination disguised as "research."
How do you avoid falling into this trap?