If you're anything like me, you're starting 2024 with some pretty big writing goals in mind. You're ready and eager to get started and I applaud you! To get you started (and to keep you going!) below are three of my favorite books on the art and business of writing. And as always, comment below with recommendations of your own!
Stephen King: On Writing
Okay, so full disclosure: I haven't actually read many of King's novels. But this book is one of the best books I've ever read on the art and practicality of writing.
King starts with his personal success/failure/success story in the first section, giving you a really good idea of how unglamorous the life of one of the world's most successful novelists can be. It's absolutely fascinating and gives you a real sense of where his much-acclaimed realism comes from.
For me, though, the real gems are in the second section, where King outlines his best tips and tricks to starting, surviving, and thriving as a writer. It's helpful, frank, and surprisingly uplifting. If you don't have this book, seriously, you need it!
Susan Shapiro: The Byline Bible
Susan Shapiro is a novelist, writer, and professor whose highly success writing classes spawned two books, The Byline Bible and The Book Bible. In these two books, she distills her years of experience as a magazine contributor and an author and offers practical and oft-times hilarious insights into the industries.
I picked The Byline Bible over The Book Bible for this review only because this book stunned me: not only does she offer clear, easy to follow advice on how to compose, package, and sell your magazine piece, she's had astonishing success with her method. The book is packed with examples of published pieces from her students, who, by now, number in the thousands. (She offers classes on Zoom now - I highly recommend!) If you're looking for some hands-on advice on what to do to get your words out there, look no further: The Byline Bible is your best bet.
William Kenower: Fearless Writing
This book is not a "how-to" book. It's a "how-to-be" book. Look, writing is awesome, the best thing ever, but living in your own head is fraught with peril as everyone knows. It's easy enough to discourage yourself, let alone hearing "helpful" advice from people who love to tell you how impossible this field is.
Kenower's book walks through each of your fears and doubts about your ability as a writer and explains how to manage and thrive despite them - sometimes, even using them as fuel for your art. From finding time to write to learning how and when to take critiques, Kenower is knowing, kind, and encouraging. My advice? Don't read this book all in one setting. Take it a chapter at a time on your worst days and let Kenower encourage you to reach for the stars.