Books for writers


These books aren’t about writing techniques: they are about attitudes and mindsets and lifestyles and creativity and choices. At whatever stage you are with your writing project and however long you’ve been working at your apprenticeship to become more accomplished at the skills & craft of writing, you can learn from others. I can recommend these books from personal experience.

Living the Writer’s Life
Deep Writing
both by Eric Maisel

Do you – can you – believe these things?

Creating is one of the few genuine answers to the question “How can a life be meaningfully spent?.

A writer’s inner life matters: it is hard to imagine that anything matters more.

Why do writers write? To save the species and to light the way for others. At its most important, writing is the ethical, existential occupation par excellence.

If this approach resonates, then Eric Maisel is the man for you. He was for me.

The Art of Fiction by David Lodge

Entertaining, thought provoking and instructive little pieces on key elements of fiction. It reminds me of being in the best sort of seminar with a tutor who both knows their stuff and has a passion for imparting it to others. It is not high-brow but it is discussing literature and not the vagaries of bestsellerdom.

The Merry Heart by Robertson Davies 

One of my favourite authors (try What’s Bred in the Bone or The Cunning Man), this is a collection of his essays and lectures on ‘reading, writing and the world of books’. An immensely knowledgeable man with the wisdom of his 82 years and the curiosity of a child, his approach is summed by him when he says: ‘Knowledge may enable you to memorise the whole of Gray’s Anatomy or Osler’s Principles and Practice of Medicine but only wisdom can teach you what to do with what you have learned’.

Believe him when he says: ‘The author today is the descendent of the storyteller who went into the market-place, sat himself on his mat, and beat upon his collection bowl, crying, “Give me a copper coin and I will tell you a golden tale”.’ And try to do the same.

If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller by Italo Calvino 

A story, a mystery, a writer’s journey into their own work, an intellectual conceit all rolled up into one. A book about story telling from a master storyteller. Read some of my other recommendations first and then come to this, you’ll appreciate it