5 Best Books on Writing For Artists & Other Creatives
by Thea Fiore-Bloom, PhD
Here are the 5 books I wish someone had told me about when I started out.
I promise there are no academically correct Elements of Style* recommendations here.
You won’t need a dictionary or amphetamines to finish any book on my list. Many are under 9 bucks.
One thing all 5 best books on writing for artists have in common?
Each author will support you to overcome the biggest stumbling block new and experienced writers alike face every day; the stomach-churning fear of letting others see the real you on the page.
1. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Ann Lamott
This is one of the best-selling books on writing for a reason– it’s a life-changer.
Flocks of formerly blocked writers are flapping about free today because they read the section in this book where Lamott gives you permission to write a “shi#ty first draft.”
Get Bird by Bird if you want to feel like you have a new, bawdy best friend who will love and encourage the heck out you (and just happens to be one of the savviest, sassiest writing teachers in the U.S.)
Don’t get this book if you are sensitive to “colorful” language or you file recovery stories from former alcoholics under TMI.
2. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
I have zero interest in horror so I avoided this deceptively simple guide by King for decades.
Don’t make the same mistake.
If you ever thought you were a failure because you sent out a manuscript once and got rejected, don’t miss King’s story on his rejection nail. A nail, turned spike, that he kept near his desk to house a burgeoning stack of “you stink” replies from publishers.
Better yet listen to King’s teaching stories in his own voice in the stellar audio version of this book.
It’s ironic that a man whose bread and butter is instilling fear, wrote one of the most comforting, cheering, fear banishing books a writer could hope to read.
On Writing is a thoughtful gift for any writer, novice to pro.
3. The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield.
Want a tough love, Charles Bukowski-badass-boxer alternative to the patience and empathy of Julia Cameron’s classic The Artist’s Way?
The War of Art is for you.
Ever heard of the phenomenon of resistance? You will be well versed in its wily ways by the end of this page-turner.
The War of Art is a wake-up call, that works.
It can raise the writing dead. Great for visual artists too.
The audio version of the book narrated by George Guidal is a wonderful thing to have tucked away on your smartphone. Listen to a chapter when you are feeling loony and listless. In no time Pressfield will have slapped you about, thrown cold water on your face like a great cut man and have you back at your desk typing away.
4. Unpublishable!: Rejected Writers from Jane Austen to Zane Grey by Elaine Borish
Unpublishable is an overlooked round-up of rejection letters sent to now-famous authors.
Borish will have you spit-taking that skinny latte as you read the obnoxious, wrong-headed, ivory-tower criticism that stunning authors like Hemingway, initially endured.
The message I get from Borish is to forge ahead, find your kind of editor at your kind of publishing house who will celebrate your kind of work.
Tuck this into your writer’s rucksack for those inevitable bad days.
Don’t get Unpublishable if you want direct writing advice, it’s letters only.
5. You Are A Writer ( So Start Acting Like One) by Jeff Goins.
If can’t muster up the confidence to call yourself a writer in public yet, start here.
Goins is a millennial motivator who revs readers up to the stratosphere. You can read You Are A Writer on your Kindle in under 3 hours, and emerge with a shiny new attitude.
This is not the book for you if the last words you want to here are platform or blogging.
And there are two books that I believe are better for teaching writers how to pitch pieces to magazines.
But the rest of Goin’s advice is top-notch in my opinion.
The Charmed Studio has several humorous posts on writing:
Want to write a children’s book? How Not To Write A Children’s Book: The 9 Biggest Mistakes First Time Authors Make with Award-Winning Kid’s Writer Aaron Shepard.
I also offer one-on-one writing coaching sessions.
Video version of this 5 Best Books on Writing For Artists from The Charmed Studio YouTube Channel.