You sit down and crack your knuckles. Open up your laptop and stare at the screen.
Your mind is blank. Then, it starts to wander. Did you take the clothes out of the dryer?
Why can’t you think about what to write? This is your moment. Get to work. But, you can’t. Part of the reason might be because you’re overthinking it. You haven’t been exposed to the right books. You need to relax. Here’s how.
On Writing, Stephen King
This is a classic, and one that gets recommended to every writer at some point. And, for good reason. It will inspire you. It’s written as a memoir as well as a practical tool. King tells you his personal story, along with his struggles and how he came out of it.
At the end of the book, you actually get usable information (unlike a lot of books out there on writing).
Made to Stick, Why some Ideas Survive and Others Die, Chip Heath & Dan Heath
This book gets you back to the basics of writing. The Heath brothers argue that whatever it is that you’re trying to say, just say it. Get it out.
This book is, just as the advice it gives, easy to read and straightforward. It keeps your attention and gets the ideas to stick. You can model your own writing after the tactics used in here.
The Elements of Style, Strunk & White
This is a classic writing guide that has withstood the test of time, and for a good reason. It’s really well-written. Many writers use it as a textbook and as a sort of “writing bible.”
On Writing Well, William Zinsser
The name might seem eerily similar to King’s book, but the information in here is different and yet somehow familiar. It will help you find your voice, fine tune the details of your writing, and get you polished on the basics. In fact, it’s so well-written, and contains such high-quality advice, it’s used in many formal writing classes.
My Reading Life, Pat Conroy
This book should be on every writer’s shelf. Conroy tells the story of his youth and his love of reading. This eventually led him into his career as a writer.
Eats, Shoots & Leaves, Lynn Truss
Truss is an English journalist, and tells the story of why it’s important to use correct and proper punctuation. But, Truss doesn’t just use dry didactic methods. Nope. She gets her point across using witty examples that get her point across and stick with you long after you’ve turned the last page.
Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, Anne Lamott
This classic demonstrates how to write well, using practical advice and pits you against the inevitable question you will have to face as a writer: do you want to be published or do you want to write.
You know being a writer isn’t exciting or glamorous. And, you know some clients can be a real pain in the you-know-what. But, you plow through for one simple reason: to share your knowledge. Whether it’s through nonfiction or fiction, you have a story to tell. You have something to teach. You have something to share - information. This book will help you do it better.
Sin and Syntax: How to Craft Wickedly Effective Prose, Constance Hale
Once you’ve got the basics down, it’s time to dress up your writing a little. In Sin and Syntax, Hale shows you how to write snappy and voice-driven, writing that won’t bore people to death and force them to hit their browser’s back button.
The Forest for the Trees: An Editor’s Advice to Writers, Betsy Lerner
If you’re like most writers, you’re probably mystified by the process of writing, and the publishing industry itself. Fear not. This book solves those mysteries and helps you understand more about what’s going on behind closed doors.
If you’re going the traditional publisher route, you need this book. You might not survive in the publishing world without it.
Lerner offers first-hand insight into what editors and agents really want, and how to bounce back after the inevitable rejection.
One of the most valuable things you learn in this book is how your personality can affect your writing career, how to manage it during the writing and editing process, and how to survive the maze of editors at publishing houses that you will encounter.
Written by Mike Hanski who did a couple of big writing projects for Bid4papers, and many smaller ones for his freelance clients. He reads a lot, plays guitar and constantly searching for new ways of writing more (better) words in less time. Follow Mike on Twitter or on G+.