Books About Writing

There are a gazillion books out there about how to write well. The lists below include my picks for some of the best. Many of the links are affiliate links. If you click through one of them and buy a book, I receive a small payment.
The lists are:

Basic Writer’s Bookshelf

I think these books should be on every writer’s bookshelf. 


On Writing: A Memoir Of The Craft 

Stephen King is a master of the craft of writing, and his “memoir of the craft” will teach you a lot about turning ideas into words, writing well, revising, and finishing your work.


Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die

If you want one book that can help you improve your writing for books and blog posts, and also for proposals and reports, grab a copy of Made to Stick by Chip Heath and Dan Heath.


On Writing Well

William Zinsser was the writing coach all of us writing coaches want to become. If you’re serious about your writing, you should read his book, On Writing Well, over and over.


Reach: Create the Biggest Possible Audience for Your Message, Book, or Cause

Reach: Create the Biggest Possible Audience for Your Message, Book, or Cause by Becky Robinson keeps the promise in the subtitle. If you want to expand your audience and create a lasting impact, this book is a must-read

Maintaining Motivation

Writing a book is hard work spread over a year or more. It can become a slog. That’s why many writers turned to books like the ones below to help them maintain their motivation and momentum. 

There is no best book here. There are only books that work for you and books that don’t. Find the ones that work for you. Return to them as needed. 

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield 

The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron 

Mastering the Craft

“Mastering” may be too optimistic a word. No one ever truly “masters” writing. No matter how much experience you have or how good you are, there’s always more to learn.

Mastery is like the horizon; you never reach it because it keeps moving ahead of you. These books will help you master your next step on the way to mastery.

Good Prose: The Art of Nonfiction by Tracy Kidder and Richard Todd

Stein On Writing: A Master Editor of Some of the Most Successful Writers of Our Century Shares His Craft Techniques and Strategies by Sol Stein

The Art of Nonfiction: A Guide for Writers and Readers by Ayn Rand

The Art and Craft of Feature Writing: Based on The Wall Street Journal Guide by William E. Blundell

Working by Robert A. Caro

Ernest Hemingway on Writing

Telling Stories

Human beings have used stories to share important information and emotion since we crawled out of caves. If you want to become a good author, you must become a good storyteller.

My clients are mostly mid-career businesspeople. Most of them show up with lots of knowledge, plenty of facts, and piles of logic. Stories are often an afterthought. They are pleasantly surprised when stories, especially personal stories make their book easier to read and learn from. 


Creativity Inc. by Ed Catmull


Storycraft: The Complete Guide to Writing Narrative Nonfiction by Jack Hart


Telling True Stories: A Nonfiction Writers’ Guide from the Nieman Foundation at Harvard University by Mark Kramer and Wendy Call


The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human by Jonathan Gottschall


The Story Grid: What Good Editors Know by Shawn Coyne


The Story Factor: Inspiration, Influence, and Persuasion through the Art of Storytelling by Annette Simmons

Wired for Story: The Writer’s Guide to Using Brain Science to Hook Readers from the Very First Sentence by Lisa Cron

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