Books, books, books!

Here are some of my favorite resources for writers. Let’s start with books.

Got some you think we should read? Tell us in the comments!

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The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity by Julia Cameron

This is the book that blew it open for me, decades ago, when I was working a ridiculous and sublime temp job and had (weirdly) too much time on my hands. Every element in the story is now gone–the temp job, Wordsworth Bookstore in Harvard Square, Cambridge, Massachusetts, the desperate search for myself (still seaching but no longer desperate)–except for the writing that I do daily, which is in a very direct way how I came to be writing this post. It’s a workbook and a work-out. If you’re at all interested in how daily writing can transform your life, even if you’re not a writer, read this book.

How To Make Market and Sell Your Ebook–All For Free by Jason Matthews

This is the book that inspired me to publish my own books. It’s the contemporary version of the Publish It Yourself Handbook, below. The book made self-publishing at very, very low cost seem not only appealing but doable and pretty darned smart, too. Why does it matter? Because publishing yourself helps you discover at a deep level who you are as a writer as you navigate each decision and choice, forcing you to come face to face with your purposes in writing and your goals for your book. And that right there is gold, especially for the newbie.

If You Want to Write: A Book About Art, Independence and Spirit by Brenda Ueland

First published in 1938, this classic will seduce you with its clarity and boldness about writing, authenticity and living. As Ueland says in the text, “whenever I say ‘writing’ in this book, I also mean anything that you love and want to do or make.” There are priceless passages from her writing classes, including a story of a woman who wrote her way out of cold by just showing up and writing despite being sick. I wish I’d known Brenda Ueland. She was a wild woman.

Publish It Yourself: Literary Tradition and How-To (Fourth Revised Edition)

The Publish It Yourself Handbook set me a blaze in the early 1980s when I first came across it. Historical context is necessary to appreciate this book, which may seem tame in comparison to the options available to writers today for self-publishing without leaving your home. But if you’re interested in understanding the long history of literay tradition and gaining a new respect for the power of the written word, read this book. It was the first time I seriously considered a) becoming a publisher and b) buying a printing press.

Wild Mind: Living the Writer’s Life by Natalie Goldberg

The sequel, if you will, to Writing Down the Bones, Wild Mind continues the author’s journey of self-discovery seated on a Zen cushion with a pen in her hand (and, I presume, ink on her fingers.) Writing as meditation practice as life. A perfect companion to the Artist’s Way, which also uses a daily practice of writing as its foundation.

Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg

Goldberg’s Rules of Writing Practice have a lot in common with the rules of improvisation: don’t think, make mistakes, don’t read back, keep the hand moving, etc. If you follow this method, you will free your writing like nothing else I know. Basically, when you keep you pen on the page, as Goldberg directs, you have two choices: bore yourself to death, or let it rip. Usually, out of desperation, we do the latter. And the results are rich. Find your writing power with this excellent guide.