There's no substitute for great writing.
It's one of the most useful skills you can master.
Whether you want to author a novel, start a blog, or teach others, writing well is necessary to effectively communicate your mission in a persuasive and entertaining style.
You don't have to be a natural writer, either. The following books will give you all the techniques and guidelines you need to become a better writer.
Learning is the first step toward mastering the craft, and these books will show you how.
It’s been nearly 100 years since this book was published, and it remains a classic and definitive guide for writers. It’s perfect if you need to refine your writing skills, and it contains a list of words that are commonly misspelled – handy for any blogger/writer looking to increase their credibility. It might not be the most entertaining read, but it's one book that should remain by your desk at all times.
Writing effectively and clearly is one of the keys to being a prolific author, and this book will give you plenty of examples on how to achieve that objective. It will also help you develop your unique voice as a writer so you can infuse your words with personality. Wilbers dispels common writing myths and lists five key characteristics you want to embody as a writer.
It’s one thing to be a writer, it’s another thing to teach the art of writing. Roy Peter Clark is hailed as “America’s writing coach” and teaches writing at The Poynter Institute. Clark does an excellent job of breaking down all the tools that will help you improve your craft. This book is particularly useful for those who don’t identify as writers; Clark’s main goal with this book is to show that anyone can be a writer if they’re willing to learn the tools of the trade. Additionally, he includes exercises at the end of every chapter to ensure you understood the tool being taught.
Pinker is a psycholinguist with interesting insights on how psychology ties into writing style. As such, much of this book is grounded in the science of language, and there’s a good amount of jargon in the book. It’s not recommended for beginners. However, the message that some rules of writing are meant to be broken is a valuable one. It’s a refreshing read that challenges age-old advice contained in other books. Pinker delivers great examples of when to break those rules. As a bonus, the chapter on The Curse of Knowledge is a must-read for experts trying to break down complex concepts for readers.
Lammot offers both practical and inspirational advice to writers in this gem. She’s no stranger to the hardships of writing novels, and shares her experiences and wisdom in this classic piece. Lammot drills down into the why of writing, which many authors struggle with. She addresses the fear many writers deal with: not being good enough to be published, and shares advice from other writers as well.
Another absolute classic that every writer needs to read. Besides being a helpful guide for writers, King details the journey he took to become a mega-successful author, and how those events influenced his writing. He speaks in a conversational tone and claims to take a “no BS” approach, unlike other authors on the subject. He also mentions the benefits of having an “ideal reader” in mind when writing.
If you want to learn from the best, Zinsser is the master. He’s the author of 18 best-sellers across a wide range of subjects, a freelance writer, editor, and teacher. His experience shines through this book. Read this book in its entirety, from front to back. The chapters are subject-specific, but the teachings are not. It’s a great read for any non-fiction writers wanting to learn the fundamentals, and is also highly valuable for bloggers or freelance writers.
At first glance, this book might not look particularly useful for those who aren’t screenwriters, but Snyder shares easy-to-understand formulas for great storytelling with examples from well-known movies. It’s not a typical “how-to” book, as it’s not technical (there are no style guides), but instead focuses more on the art. It's not the most essential book for bloggers or non-fiction writers, but it's excellent for anyone needing a formula for storytelling, or for those looking to translate their writing into videos.
If you identify more as an artist or creative than a writer, you’ll probably like Goldberg’s zen-like approach to the craft. She is a strong believer that you should connect with your writing, and is a proponent of free writing and less structure. It's a good book for those looking for a new approach to creative writing that’s centered around freedom and interconnectedness.
Everyone knows that “content is king.” If you own an online business with a website (which you should), this book is essential. It will teach you the keys to creating a content strategy that converts, and it also touches on the importance of structuring your website to better the user experience. This is the book to turn to once you’ve explored how to improve your writing.
Handley says “our online words are our currency; they tell our customers who we are.” She argues that while the importance of writing has seemingly taken a backseat with the rise of social media, it’s actually more important than ever. This is an excellent companion to Content Strategy for the Web, as it focuses more on the how of writing compelling content.
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