You are a writer.
Words turn you on.
You wait for words to brush against each other and make beautiful sounds.
You roll words on your tongue and taste them.
You have stories dancing inside your belly.
And yet…something is holding you back. You are struggling to write the pieces that you want to write and share them with the readers who need to read them the most.
Need an extra push?
Here is a carefully curated list of books that will hurtle your writing life to another level. Let’s go for a ride!
Before I met this book, I had been writing painfully, laboring over my every word, and hiding behind those that eventually made their way on the page. Writing Down the Bones shook up the core of my writing practice. I carried that thin hardcover book with me for two years as I learned to let my pen go and write without censoring my thoughts, allowing all the words to exist on my notebook. This book convinced me to begin my daily writing practice. Since then I have collected a stack of spiral notebooks with my scribbles on them and found a spiritual practice that anchors me.
Rainer Maria Rilke. Need I say more?
Picture this: Grand Central Terminal. Me. Reading out loud Rilke, my words drowned out by the buzzing of people milling around me like loose hornets.
If you want to read this book, I challenge you to read it in the most unique way possible. Crouched under your bed, flashlight in hand, whispering the words to your heart. Read it to the moon in the darkness of midnight. Read in the middle of a storm, an umbrella in hand, rain drops hammering down on its hood. Read to a friend and let your friend read to you.
Lamott offers her readers helpful advice on writing, especially on those frustrating moments when words seem to fail you. An added bonus is that she is hilarious. I have never laughed so hard while reading about school lunches. Trust me, you just have to read that chapter for yourself.
If Natalie Goldberg convinced you to write daily, Julia Cameron will help you break though your creative blocks and design a structure for your life so that you can finally let your creative soul dance in this world. FYI: You gotta do the exercises at the end of the chapter–magic happens there.
Sometimes I meet books before I’m ready for them. We stare at each other–NOTHING. Then I met them again, sometimes years later & BAM–MAGIC! Joseph Campbell’s The Power of Myth was like that for me. Read this book, even if you have to meet it a few times. The way he talks about myths, those stories that endured time, will teach you more about writing than you can possibly imagine.
This book commands writers to tap into their unconscious and write from the depth of their being. As Butler says, “Art does not come from the mind. Art comes from the place where we dream.” This book is not for fiction writers only–all writers can walk away with something useful for their writing practice.
I began meditating regularly around the same time I started my daily writing practice. It was also when I discovered Pema Chodron’s work. Chodron beautifully writes about being intimate with fear, cultivating loving-kindness toward ourselves and others, and living with uncertainty.
When writing, we have to experience and make sense of the beautiful, messy, chaotic (inner and outer) world. Pema Chodron’s work can help us as we learn to “lean into the sharp points” of our experiences and collect them as materials for our writing
The premise of this book boils down to this: We don’t chase goals. We chase the feeling that we get when we achieve that goal. So, LaPorte invites her readers to map out their desires, starting with the way they want to feel. Radical.
Get clear on how you want to feel. And for you, writers, get clear on how you want to feel when you write. Authentic? Bold? Earthy? Joyful? Declare them out loud. Then, design your writing life around those feelings.
You may have worked diligently on your writing. However, sometimes, it may not be your writing that needs the attention, it may be you. You may be getting in the way of your writing life. Mohr addresses the ways we can stop self-sabotaging ourselves and devote more of our time and energy toward our dreams and desires.
You have been writing away. You have finished and half-finished pieces. Small ideas. Big ideas. Yet, not a single soul knows about them. (Your mom does not count…okay, she does…but you know what I mean!) Show your work! Don’t be ashamed of the process. Don’t wait for perfect, polished pieces before releasing them into the world.
Show your work! Let Austin Kleon show you how.
Okay, you have read all the 9 books. You are ready to commit to your writing life. But…there is a hint of hesitation. You think to yourself: How will I live with the (non-existent) salary of a writer? Reality sinks in. You got to pay your bills, put food on the table, buy birthday presents.
Step away from the starving artist mentality. I am convinced that this mentality has dissuaded many from following their callings in life. Examine your relationship to money and creativity. If you want to design a sustainable, prolific literary career, you must figure this piece out.
There you have it, folks!
Over to you:
Which book from the list do you plan on reading? Any other books that had a profound impact on your writing life? Please share on the comment section below!