A client is stuck. She doesn’t know what she wants to do with her story and she doesn’t like her story at all. She’s unhappy, what should she do?
Well when I’m stuck I like to travel somewhere exotic. But since a quick trip to Istanbul is not in her budget, we had to move onto plan B. Which is vacation, retreat, leave the world by reading. What books are great for writers block? Or in this case, just more inspiration? What can help the stuck writer move forward again?
I have two sets of books that answer this question. The first is a list of my go-to books when I need writing help. The second set are books focused on creativity, and I love those as well.
I put down my list here of writing books. I sent them to my client and in a couple weeks we will build a podcast around writing books. So watch for Newbie Writer’s pod cast on iTunes, and in the mean time, here is my own personal list of inspirational writing books:
Books specifically focused on the How To of Writing
Don’t write like You Talk – Catharine Bramkamp
Funny grammar advice as well as writing advice. If you don’t want too much sanctimony in your inspirational work, I’m your woman.
The Cheap Retreat Workbook – Catharine Bramkamp
How do you get the benefits from a writing retreat without the cost? Do it at home. I also include a wealth of writing prompts to shake loose your creative ideas.
Okay, I had to mention my own books, otherwise marketing people will yell at me.
The Artist’s Way – Julia Cameron
One of the classics – Cameron will help work you through the creative process and give you permission and encouragement to write every day. The only caveat is that Cameron has a charmed, famous, wealthy life. So if that gets your hackles up, pick up Goldberg’s books.
Writing Down the Bones & Wild Mind – Natalie Goldberg
These were my very first writing books, so I have a deep fondness for both the ragged books and for the Taos based author. Goldberg is more approachable than Cameron, a real woman adrift using writing to paddle herself to a more solid shore.
Both books deliver sketches, examples and strong writing prompts. Great for beginners and for writers who need to re-discover their beginner’s mind.
Naked, Drunk, and Writing – Adair Lara
I’ve been a fan of Adair Lara since she was a columnist in the Chronicle. This is a great book for beginning writers who want to move from scribbling in a journal to publishing in periodical, or God help you, publishing a book.
The Writer’s Adventure Guide – Beth Barany
Beth brings the new novelist through the jungles and thorns of starting, finishing and re-writing their book. So if you need a friend to hold your hand, this is a great companion.
Writing the Life Poetic – Sage Cohen
This is a poetry book but also a collection of inspirations. If you want to view the world differently, skew your usual views, change your mind, this is a great resource.
No Plot? No Problem! Chris Baty
This is the initial NaNoWriMo manifesto, since I’ve supported this novel writing project for the last two years (and won both years) I thought I’d better have the official book. Baty is fun, interesting and truly committed to helping writers get out of their own way.
The Glamour of Grammar – Roy Peter Clark
I loved this book, mostly because the author agrees with me. For another look at Grammar, rather than just those thick (or thin, Sunk and White is tiny but mighty, and some say; wrong) tomes on what to do, what to do now, what to do now again, try the alternative approach. Grammar is more about making sense, and carrying messages and meaning in your work. Really.
I’m working through this because I am fascinated by language, grammar and whether or not we should bother. Clark proposes we should bother.
The American Heritage Dictionary, Fifth Edition
There are essays, explanations and pictures in this new edition of the American Heritage Dictionary. Roy Peter Clark in The Glamour of Grammar commented that there are two necessary dictionaries: the OED to discover where a word comes from and the t AHD (which reminds me of ADD, not a good comparison for a dictionary) for where a word is headed.