Learning to write well is an ongoing process of practice and study. And fortunately, there's an abundance of books that cover the craft of writing. I enjoy reading them and mining them for nuggets of advice that I can apply to my own writing.
And, occasionally, I like to share books that I've read and that I believe could help other writers sharpen their skills. Here's a list of six books on writing, some hot off the press, others that have been available for several decades:
1. Writing With Power: Techniques for Mastering the Writing Process, Peter Elbow
First published in 1981, Writing With Power is a recent discovery of mine. The chapter on freewriting (writing without stopping, for a preset amount of time) is an example of the simple but powerful advice Elbow offers in this classic text on writing.
2. The Artist's Journey: The Wake of the Hero's Journey and the Lifelong Pursuit of Meaning, Steven Pressfield
I've read every book on writing and creativity by Pressfield, including his bestselling classic, The War of Art. In The Artist's Journey, Pressfield explores the mysterious, unconscious aspect of the creative process. While he doesn't offer lists of practical advice you can apply to your writing, he does force you to think hard about your sources of inspiration, and helps you explore your "why."
"On our artist's journey, we move past Resistance and past self-sabotage. We discover our true selves and our authentic calling, and we produce the works we were born to create."
3. Light the Dark, Writers on Creativity, Inspiration, and the Artistic Process, Joe Fassler
This book, based on a popular series on writing in The Atlantic, brings together the wisdom of 46 eminent writers of fiction and nonfiction. Each writer shares a personal story about why they write, and then explains how they write.
4. Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen, Mary Norris
The New Yorker's long-time copy editor brings an often-avoided topic -- grammar -- to life in what I would describe as a writing craft guide wrapped in a memoir. If you want to strengthen your grammar chops while not having to crack open a traditional text, check this book out.
5. Follow the Story: How to Write Successful Nonfiction, James B. Stewart
For a nuts-and-bolts book about crafting quality nonfiction prose, this book by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author and former page one editor of The Wall Street Journal will give you the toolbox you need.
6. The Art of Nonfiction, Ayn Rand
Ayn Rand used to hold private discussions with small groups of students on the art and craft of writing nonfiction and fiction. In The Art of Nonfiction, you can take a center seat at one of these gatherings and absorb the lessons she learned from a lifetime of publishing bestselling novels as well as nonfiction titles.