Blogging is writing, for the most part. Even though good writing can’t guarantee a blog’s success, it is, nevertheless, highly desirable. There are numerous books and online resources with advice for writers, but not all of them are equally interesting or helpful. I’ve compiled my own list of books that, in my opinion, are most insightful and educational. Some of the books contain instructions and exercises; others are memoirs, a window into a writer’s mind; some focus on fiction writing, others — on nonfiction.
: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction, by
As the title suggests, it is the classic (and I would add the “ultimate”) guide to writing nonfiction. There is a piece of advice I found extremely relevant both for writers and bloggers. Zinsser writes:”…To succeed you must make your piece jump out of a newspaper or a magazine by being more diverting than everyone else’s piece. You must find some way to elevate your act of writing into an entertainment. Usually this means giving the reader an enjoyable surprise. Any number of devices will do the job: humor, anecdote, paradox, an unexpected quotation, a powerful fact, an outlandish detail, a circuitous approach, an elegant arrangement of words. … Given a choice between two traveling companions – and a writer is someone who asks us to travel with him – we usually choose the one who we think will make an effort to brighten the trip.”
As S. King writes in the second foreword:”This is a short book because most books about writing are filled with bullshit. Fiction writers…don’t understand very much about what they do – not why it works when it’s good, not why it doesn’t when it’s bad. I figured the shorter the book, the less the bullshit.” I can’t agree more: no bullshit here. In the book, King shares his powerful insight into fiction writing, at the same time providing readers with a glimpse into his life and career as a writer.
3. What I talk about when I talk about running, by
It’s not a book about writing in a strict sense. It’s a memoir, in which Murakami talks about running, for the most part. Yet, being an accomplished fiction writer, he can’t avoid talking about his craft, and that makes it a great book about writing.
4. Keys to Great Writing, by Stephen Wilbers
The book delves into a variety of writing techniques and approaches, which are demonstrated with a plethora of examples. Wilbers maintains that “anyone with average intelligence and commitment can become a competent writer. As , a poet and longtime faculty member in the , is fond of saying, talent is cheap. What counts is determination.”
5. Becoming a writer, by Dorothea Brande
This is a different book on writing: it doesn’t talk about writing techniques, but focuses solely on writers’ hearts and souls by addressing the root problems, such as self-doubt, lack of confidence, creative blocks. As Brande writes in her introduction, “This book is all about the writer’s magic.” (The book was first published in 1934.)
6. The Writer’s Way, by Jack Rawlins and Stephen Metzger
This was my textbook in the Writing Well course I took recently. It covers in great detail the main aspects of writing different types of essays and can also be used as a guide to any type of nonfiction and persuasive writing. I found the part about purpose and audience most helpful. The book contains many examples of good essays, as well as writing exercises.
7. The Elements of Style, by and E.B. White
It’s a classic. Although some criticize the book’s simplistic approach, I would like to remind that the book is intended as a guide for beginning and aspiring writers who are in the process of finding their own voice and developing their own style.
How about you? What books about writing you found helpful or inspirational?
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