My Favourite Books on Writing and Creating

I’ve been trying to read more books that teach me about being a better writer and creative. I wanted to keep a list, so I can revisit their insights from time to time, and thought I’d put it here in case it was helpful for your own creative forays.

I love the way these books essentially cover the same challenges a writer faces: overcoming self-doubt, good writing habits, finding inspiration, the spirituality of writing, trusting the process, writing truth, finding a writing community, and the perils of publication (to name a few). Yet, they bring their own unique flavour and experiences so that invariably I am ping-ponging between nodding in solidarity, and reaching for pen and notepad to scribble down a new morsel of wisdom. I will keep updating this post as I find more. Feel free to send me your own suggestions!

Big Magic | Creative Living Beyond Fear
by Elizabeth Gilbert

A book for understanding your creative self, and understanding what you therefore need. I was intrigued by Gilbert’s articulation of inspiration and the spiritual muse. She delves into these abstract notions but also pares it all back, addressing characteristics like courage, trust, persistence and permission. Short chapters and an entertaining voice make for an easy read.

“Possessing a creative mind, after all, is like having a border collie for a pet: It needs to work, or else it will cause you an outrageous amount of trouble… It has taken me years to learn this, but it does seem to be the case that if I am not actively creating something, then I am probably actively destroying something (myself, a relationship, or my own peace of mind).”
(From chapter Marcus Aurelius Chimes In, Big Magic.)

Bird by Bird | Instructions on Writing and Life
by Anne Lamott

I loved this book for its humour most of all, but also for the many practical tools and affirmations. It is written somewhat like a series of workshops, including a very helpful summary chapter at the end. Lamott is like the mother hen of writing, reminding you to write every day, that the ‘shitty first draft’ is just about getting all the words on the page, to let the characters drive the plot and to be motivated by the joy of the craft itself rather than notions of success and money. Which, for an author, are rare as the proverbial!

“Your anger and damage and grief are the way to the truth. We don’t have much truth to express unless we have gone into those rooms and closets and woods and abysses that we were told not to go in to.”
(From chapter Finding Your Voice, Bird by Bird.)

The Luminous Solution | Creativity, Resilience and The Inner Life
by Charlotte Wood

A little brag: my copy of this book is signed by the author who I met at the Adelaide Writers Festival in 2022. She wrote, ‘For Claire, in solidarity! Keep writing!’ Perhaps you can imagine your own name in that encouragement, from one writer to another.

Wood is a smart cookie! She combines research, personal experience and wide reading to bring a book that challenges you to push your creativity to new reaches. I particularly enjoyed her advice on refinement of a work to reach its full potential.

“Making art is an attempt to bring into cohesion the fragmented, lost parts of ourselves and our world.”
(From chapter four, Unconscious Bias, The Luminous Solution.)

My Writing Books TBR Pile…

The Little Red Writing Book
by Mark Treddinnick

There’s not much for free in life… however, this book is!
You can find it right here!

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

Walking on Water | Reflections on Faith and Art
by Madeleine L’Engle

This book asks the questions: What does it mean to be a Christian artist? and What is the relationship between faith and art?

On Writing
by Stephen King

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