Read books. Then read some more creative books for burgeoning writers because the more you read, the less likely you will embarrass yourself with your pen.
Ben Johnson says, For a man to write well, there are required three necessaries: to read the best authors, observe the best speakers, and many exercises of his style.
Inherent or learned, the ability to write well still requires practice. To be effective and grow as a writer, you will need to hone this skill and put in a lot of time and work on improving yourself through reading.
There are instances when one possesses the information to express but lacks the linguistic ability to do so effectively. Thus, for a writer, in the classical sense, writing must be cohesive, articulate, instructive, engaging, relatable, intelligible, and free from structural, grammatical, and clerical errors.
You should be aware that readers are picky and dissect every word they read. Fluency and articulation in writing are the only way to avoid your reader’s dire criticisms.
Honestly, books have a way of being possessive. Why is this? This is because the act of beginning to read a book indicates a level of trust from the reader. That is why people only read books that are highly recommended.
No one wants to squander their time reading something difficult to understand. As a result, there is a need for a two-way interaction between the writer and the reader.
You should find joy in reading. All writers are also avid readers, and it is in reading that you can also expect to improve.
How Reading Books Can Help Your Writing
Zadie Smith says, Learning to be an excellent reader makes you a better writer.
Never underestimate the infinite value of reading in learning to write. There is an intricate link between writing and reading, and you cannot expect to improve as a writer if reading is not something you enjoy.
Reading increases your mental capacity and vocabulary size. You can learn more about the mechanical and stylistic decisions that make different genres work by reading novels in a wide variety of genres.
Finding your unique writing voice requires exposure to a wide range of books, with careful attention paid to the authors’ recognizable stylistic patterns.
Reading’s true value lies in the comfort and familiarity it brings with the act of writing itself. Reading often will get you in the headspace (or state of mind) where you can write eagerly and without inhibition.
It provides you with an ever-expanding understanding of what has been done and what hasn’t, what is boring and what is new, what is beneficial, and what is just lying there dying (or dead) on the page.
- Reading improves your concentration and vocabulary.
- Reading introduces you to different writing styles.
- Reading aids in the subconscious acquisition of syntax, grammar, style, and punctuation.
- Reading increases your knowledge and inspires you.
- Reading can help you become more sympathetic.
- Reading can help you unwind and reduce stress.
- Reading can help you sleep, but not under the blue light of an e-book.
7 Top Must-Read Creative Writing Books for Burgeoning Writers
The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
There is a reason this book is at the top of my list. Starting something new is often tasking and holds us back from realizing our full potential.
The first stage in developing into a writer is overcoming personal obstacles. Resistance is what Steven Pressfield labeled it.
He claims that writers face the same challenges while trying to put pen to paper, such as procrastination, lack of time, illness, social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube), distractions (television, smartphone, etc.), etc.
Pressfield distinguishes between amateurs and pros in The War of Art, where he tags ‘amateurs’ are individuals who talk and think a lot about writing but never actually sit down and write, and ‘pros’ are those who sit down and write.
This book teaches how to overcome resistance and become a true master of the game.
Writing is difficult for many people, but The War of Art is a no-nonsense, straight-to-the-point approach to getting past those first hurdles.
The Sense of Style by Steven Pinker
The Sense of Style is an excellent creative writing book for anyone looking to improve their writing skills by mastering the art of writing in clear, active, and declarative sentences.
A necessary read for any writer serious about improving their ability to convey ideas clearly and effectively. To explain why people write poorly, Steven Pinker used linguistics and neuroscientific investigation.
Steering the Craft by Ursula K. Le Guin
Steering the craft is a Non-fiction, creative writing book. This book serves as a how-to manual for both creative and informative writing.
The author focuses on word choice and style, the keys to creating your writer’s voice, exercises to rid your writing of superfluous adjectives and adverbs, and exercises to bolster your writing’s invisible exposition.
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott’s
Abraham Lincoln once said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”
You can’t cut a tree with a dull axe, and neither can you create masterpieces without mastering the finer points of your profession. To become an expert writer, you must first master the fundamentals and research the area thoroughly.
Anne Lamott’s book called Bird by Bird is one such book you should pick up to read. Anne uses her experiences and a humorous tone to instruct you on how to become a better writer.
Not only does she provide you with detailed instructions on how to write, but she also motivates and inspires you to put pen to paper.
You will find out how to begin, how to deal with awful first drafts, and how to create interesting characters and natural-sounding dialogue.
She also shares insights on how to hone your writing skills and how to know when you’re done. As a bonus, she shows you how to recover from failure. Any budding author will benefit much from reading Bird by Bird.
The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr., E. B. White
Knowledge of grammar and style conventions is essential for any burgeoning writer. While it is not necessary to be completely rule-abiding, it is helpful to be aware of the rules you are breaking and to know why you are doing so.
“Learn the rules like a pro, so you may defy them like an artist,” Pablo Picasso once said.
Learn the fundamentals of the English language with help from The Elements of Style and you will develop the ability to articulate your thoughts clearly and to write concisely effective sentences. This book’s propensity to make you swoon over the English language may be its greatest strength.
Lord Of the Flies by William Golding
While it’s tempting to use big words in your writing if you have a good vocabulary, remember that often the simplest words and language can convey your meaning more effectively than the most flowery.
Lord of the Flies by William Golding is a great example because, despite its length, Golding conveys complex topics in accessible language, including the human propensity to seek and exert power as well as moral concerns.
The God of Small Things | Arundhati Roy
Let us assume for a moment that you have read the aforementioned books in their entirety. That you have overcome the resistance, and have mastered the art of writing and language. However, a writer’s arsenal isn’t complete without vocabulary.
Reading novels with a wide range of vocabulary, including some that are less common, is a great approach to expanding your lexicon. Having a dictionary on hand will allow you to quickly and easily look up unfamiliar terms.
If you are looking for a book with a rich vocabulary and sophisticated writing style, The God of Small Things is an excellent option.
Be warned, you may need to refer to a dictionary frequently, but the time spent reading it will be well worth it.
There are plenty of other books you can read to improve your writing skills. A Fiction or Non-fiction book will suffice. Just grab a pick and enjoy it.