The Best Books About Writing

The Best Books About Writing

You have to love two things to be an author: Books and writing. (I’m an advocate that writers should also love sleep deprivation and frustration, because you’ll be dealing with a lot of that too.)

Whats the only thing better than books and writing? Books ABOUT writing! I’m pretty addicted to reading books that talk about what it means to be a writer, and books that offer suggestions on how to write better. Sometimes I read them instead of actually writing. 

I’ve collected a list of my favorite books about writing, as well as some prompt and reference books. (None of this is sponsored, but if you click the cover image, you can go to Amazon and buy the book if it interests you!)


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On Writing

This book is not for the weak of heart- or adverb lovers. When Stephen King doesn’t like something, he really doesn’t like something, and he’s not afraid to tell you. Although this book was rough to read as a thirteen year-old, it helped me realize a lot of the mistakes I was making in my writing. (You should be ending your dialogue with “said.” No questions asked. Except if you’re writing a question. Then “asked” may be appropriate.) All of his advice should be taken with a grain of salt. (To be fair, “yelled” and “whispered” and “smirked” could work in certain situations.) But all in all, this book helped me realize that I should really not have been using as many exclamation marks as I was. Oops.


Still Writing


This book is split into three sections: Beginning, Middle and End. Shapiro gives us advice on each stage of writing a book. My favorite part of this book is when Shapiro includes anecdotes about her own life. It’s like reading a memoir and an advice book at once!


Writing Down The Bones


About a year ago, I was in a serious writing rut. I hadn’t sat down to work on my writing in weeks. I was swamped with school work, blogging, social engagements, and all the other things we use as excuses not to write. In short, I had become afraid of the blank page. I read this novel, and it motivated me to return to writing. Writing Down The Bones was, for me at least, more of a ‘feel good’ writing book. It reminds us to observe the people and world around us. I also started journaling again after reading this!

Spilling Ink


This was the first book on writing that I EVER read. It shaped me to become the writer I am today! I’ve read it so many times I can still remember entire passages of it. Although it’s written for a younger audience, I honestly think everyone could learn something from this book. It combines advice, anecdotes, and prompts to create a heart-warming guide for writers.


Nano What Now?


I read this book right after winning NanoWrimo. It offered advice on editing a hastily written project and how to publish it. If you’re participating in NanoWrimo this year, buy yourself this as an ‘end’ reward! It helped me figure out what I wanted to do with my novel, and gave a much needed reading break after all of that writing.


Odd Type Writers


Ever wonder why James Joyce wrote in crayon? Did you know that in order to meet a deadline, Victor Hugo wore nothing but a grey shawl so he couldn’t leave the house? This hilarious books covers all the great author’s weird quirky writer habits. We’re certainly an odd bunch!


Bird by Bird


This is my all-time favorite book on writing. It’s because of this book that when I’m staring at a blank page, overwhelmed with the idea of writing something, that I mutter to myself, “Bird by bird.” Read this book for honest, inspirational, and real advice on how to write books and live your life. Every time I reread Bird By Bird, I feel a rush of confidence. This books makes me want to write. 


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The Pocket Muse


I bought this at a huge book sale for $1, and I’m glad I did. This is such a fun little book. It’s small, so you can take it with you. It offers thought-provoking pictures, journaling prompts, writing advice, and more. You don’t have to read it chronologically, you can just flip it open to whatever inspires you.


300 Writing Prompts


So you can never again say that you have nothing to write. 


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Word Painting


A detailed guide on how to be a more descriptive writer. (Complete with beautiful examples from established authors!) If you’re idea of description is “that blue thing by the thing…” this book will reform you.


The Describer’s Dictionary


This book is SO helpful. I’m surprised more people don’t know about it. You know when you have to describe something really specific for your writing, and you’re trying to look for the right word, but nothing seems to fit? This book probably has the word in it. It has many categories, anything from beards to shapes, and words to describe them. It even includes excellent examples of other writer’s descriptions! This is something worth investing in.


Merriam – Webster Dictionary


Because of course. Merriam-Webster (other than having a brilliant twitter account) is a staple for anyone who uses words, let alone a writer. 


The Dictionary of Cliches


This book is a conversation starter! We all try our best, but sometimes cliches sneak into our writing…if you’ve just written a phrase that’s so brilliant you think it might have been done before, look it up in this dictionary to see if you accidentally used a cliche. 


Emotion Thesaurus


This book is similar to the Describer’s Dictionary. It contains possible body language, thoughts, and actions for 75 emotions, so you can accurately write how your characters are feeling. If you struggle with “showing and not telling,” this is perfect. It helps me visualize what it really means to be sad, happy, or anything in-between.


What are your favorite books about writing? Let me know in the comments! Until next time, you can find me on Pinterest or Instagram.









13 responses to “The Best Books About Writing”

  1. Two of my favorite books about writing are about the Greatest President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln who is also my favorite writer of prose:

    Lincoln at Cooper Union by Harold Holzer, how he writes the speech that makes him president

    The Eloquent President by R.C. White, the words of wisdom in his four years as president.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. 100% clicked to see if you included “On Writing” because it’s my favorite writing book. 🙂 Although, agreed, it is not Law. 🙂

    This is a really useful post, though! I think it’s a bit naive of us writerly types to NOT read writing reference books and behave as though we know All the Things because we went to That One Workshop. 😀 Great collection!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is an amazing list — and I will definitely try to read these books as soon as I can! I’ve been searching for books about writing for quite a while now, and though I’ve found some really helpful ones, I’ve always felt like there were better ones out there for me to read 😊 Odd Type Writers, Writing Down the Bones, and Bird by Bird seems like the ones that I’ll enjoy the most. I also love how you gave little anecdotes about how you found the book or what your relationship was with the book because isn’t that the most important part of a book, whether it’s nonfiction or fiction or YA or adult — how it relates to you? 😊

    I enjoyed reading your post! 😋

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for putting this list up. I have read a couple of your selected books… My favourite book about writing (or the struggle to write anyway) is The War of Art by Steven Presssfield. Its a fantastic book…

    Liked by 1 person

  5. […] Read them. Read them. Read them. This is my first piece of writing advice to any writer ever! Books will make you a better writer. Books will make you a better human. If you’re not reading, how do you even know how words work?! Read everything. Read poems and magazines and instructions and signs and mysteries and thrillers and classics and children’s lit and new releases and all-but-forgotten-novels-that-you-found-in-your-aunt’s-garage. Read everything. If you’re looking for books about writing, check out my list of craft books HERE. […]


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