I’ve long said that strong readers make better writers—and I’m not the only one. Reading not only helps to reinforce correct language patterns, it also boosts vocabulary, and you end up learning good sentence structure and grammar by reviewing the work of others. In an age of “content creation” and “storytelling” for clients, it should be obvious that fiction has its place on a writer’s “to read” shelf too.
The books listed below are about the process of writing, creativity, or style—and they all contain nuggets of wisdom and suggestions for how to tackle writing that are helpful. Add one or more to your reading list for the summer:
Anyone who has written such an insane number of bestselling books has a thing or two to say about writing, and this book is remarkable on several levels. First, you learn a lot about Stephen King, his family life, and how he came to write. You also learn a lot about perseverance and how King handled rejection—even when we aren’t submitting a novel or short story; it’s good to be reminded that constructive criticism and rejection are paths to improvement and not an assessment of individual worth. The real gem in this work is learning about King’s writing process and how he approaches it as a job—and how writing helped him heal after a nearly fatal accident when he was hit by a vehicle in 1999 while he was out taking a walk.
Anne Lamott’s writing is so natural and genuinely funny that sometimes you feel like you’re reading a letter from a friend rather than a book about the writing process. Although this book is directed at those who write fiction, again, there are lessons for just about any writer. First, there’s dispelling of the myth that a truly creative person can just sit down and type out perfect prose on the first go-round. She writes about maintaining a daily routine, and how to view writing tasks as manageable chunks rather than massive endeavors.
Some books are bestsellers and classics for a reason—and Eats, Shoots & Leaves is one of those books. This definitive and exhaustive exploration of proper punctuation provides the explanations behind many of the more prominent punctuation errors. It’s great to have on hand for those times when you aren’t sure if you should use a hyphen or not, or when an ellipsis is appropriate. It’s also a fun read about punctuation, which sounds a lot weirder than it actually is.
All three of these books are worth having on hand—or at least borrowing from the library to read. There’s something about reading about the process of writing that makes you want to do better, and be better in your own writing. No matter what your occasional writing issues are, these three books can probably help you tackle them head-on.