For most of my life, I’ve believed you could learn just about anything short of brain surgery from a good book. (My husband, a doctor, says you could probably learn a lot, even about brain surgery with the right book, too!). When you consider the rise of such book series’ as “Books for Dummies,” it seems clear that you can distill even the most complicated material into essential elements that just about anyone could understand. This observation is probably more accurate for writing than anything else.
Most of us who write these days don’t hold MFA degrees in fiction writing or journalism degrees if we’re nonfiction writers―and neither did most well-read writers throughout history. That doesn’t mean that you don’t have to learn about your craft. I believe it’s important to continually learn and improve even as your writing career achieves success. But, where to begin?
Courses, in-person and online, are often terrific ways to learn your craft. However, the most accessible place to start is with a growing library of your favourite writing reference books. And it’s not good enough that these books sit on your shelf to impress your dinner party guests. They should be read again and again, highlighted, underlined, dog-eared.
There are many well-crafted writing books that both inspire and instruct. There are also increasing h=numbers of books penned by writers who probably know little more about writing than you do. How can you decide which ones to choose to begin your collection?
I have five tips for five of what I consider to be essential writing reference books, most of which have stood the test of time.
Here they are…