10 Great Books on Writing

shelved under Writing

I spent almost 20 years studying writing through the International Women's Writing Guild and many workshops. Among my personal mentors have been D.M. Thomas (The White Hotel), Ted Conover (New Jack: Guarding Sing Sing), Sallie Bingham (Passion and Prejudice: A Family Memoir) and June Gould (The Writer in All of Us: Writing From Our Childhood Memories.) As a result, my own book, author of Sixtyfive Roses: A Sister's Memoir, was published successfully. These are some of the best books that helped me learn my craft.


The Situation and the Story: The Art of Personal Narrative

by Vivian Gornick

I learned from this book the crucial difference between the situation, and the story, as the title implies. Just as useful for fiction as personal narrative, because understanding this principle is necessary to both forms.


Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

by Anne Lamott

I really love her chapter called "Shitty First Drafts." It always reminds me that when I'm writing a first draft, I should just let loose and tell the editor in my head to go take a hike. The first draft is act; the following drafts are art. Also a wealth of other info pertaining to writing and life.


If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit

by Brenda Ueland

A Classic. One of my favorites; I return to it again and again. Reminds me that "Writing is not a performance but a generosity."


One Year to a Writing Life: Twelve Lessons to Deepen Every Writer's Art and Craft

by Susan M. Tiberghien

This is a new book by one of my mentors, a very Jungian approach to writing. As much about mindfulness as it is about writing.


Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within

by Natalie Goldberg

Especially if you're just starting out, it's hard to think about writing without reading Natalie Goldberg. She cuts right to the heart of the matter. If this books for you, I encourage you to explore the whole series.


The Courage to Write: How Writers Transcend Fear

by Ralph Keyes

Well, I love anything that helps me to be less afraid, and since writing can be scary, this is a must read. It was very helpful to me in the early stages of my writing.


Writing from the Body: For Writers, Artists and Dreamers Who Long to Free Their Voice

by Ceci Miller-Kritsberg, John Lee

This book fascinated me, and opened me to the concept that writing comes out of the body, not the mind. I've recommended this book to many, many writers.



by Tillie Olsen

Another classic, especially important for women who have been silenced by their culture or their family responsibilities or the demands of their job.


Writing the Memoir: From Truth to Art

by Judith Barrington

Essential reading for anyone working on her memoir. I referred to it often while writing "Sixtyfive Roses."


Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft

by Elizabeth Stuckey-French, Janet Burroway

I'm working on my first novel, so this is one of the books I'm reading right now. Like a complete Master's course on Fiction, in a book.