Favorite Writing Books

I’ve spent the last week revising a novella. Turning my wild first draft into something polished and cohesive always makes me ponder the mysteries of the writing process. I thought I’d share the three books that have been most helpful to me in solving these mysteries.

Bird by Bird by Anne LaMott – There are many gems of advice in this book. Here’s one of my favorites: “Writing a first draft is very much like watcing a Polaroid develop. You can’t -and, in fact, you’re not supposed to – know exactly what the picture is going to look like until it has finished developing.”

On Writing by Stephen King – I fell in love with Stephen King’s straightforward, simple advice like “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot” and “Adverbs, like the passive voice, seem to have been created with the timid writer in mind.”

The Modern Library Writer’s Workshop by Stephen Koch – My favorite part of this book is the section on revising. After writing several stories I got the hang of writing my way through the first draft without stopping to revise. I knew I had to get the story on the page as quickly as I could, but once it was there, I didn’t know what to do with it. This book helped me figure out what revising was really all about.


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