Over the last handful of years, I’ve enjoyed reading some books on writing. I mostly read them when I’m supposed to be doing the actual writing, but with these 5 books, I’m glad I procrastinated on the compiling of my words in order to consume theirs.
The Elements of Style by William Strunk & E.B. White
This short book starts with some straightforward fundamentals. It reads like a Grammar book, but a very useful one. The second section offers some thoughts on style from E.B. White. It’s basically some of the best advice on writing available.
bird by bird by Anne Lamott
If you want permission to keep writing even when it’s messy and imperfect, this is the book to read. She’ll also force you to face the reality that if you don’t write honestly, you might as well give up.
On Writing Well by William Zinsser
This book is like an expounded upon Elements of Style, with specific information about different forms of nonfiction writing. It’s filled with useful, passionate advice. It’s clear Zinsser is a quality writer who really loves language.
The Writing Life by Annie Dillard
Amongst many other beautiful and compelling things packed into this short book, she says, “Write as if you were dying.” And then, “At the same time, assume you write for an audience consisting solely of terminal patients. That is, after all, the case.”
On Writing by Stephen King
This is the On Writing Well for fiction. King shares some of his childhood in the earliest section, attempting to explain how he was shaped into the writer he is now. In the second section, he shares about his methods. Like writing 2,000 words a day. Today I’ve written about 300. You just read them.
If you want an abbreviated summary, I would say this: learn to write well; hone your craft. Be honest; tell the truth. Use fewer words.
And on that note, I’ll finish.