Most non-writers see writing as something magical. Or a gift. Certainly not something anyone can learn.
But I think of writing as a skill or a craft to be learned, honed and built-upon over years, much like carpentry . Yes, one person might have more natural ability for any given skill, but it can be learned.
The books that shaped my writing career are an eclectic bunch, much like my interests and career. In no particular order, those books are:
Books on writing for the Internet
- Problogger: Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income by Darren Rowse and Chris Garrett - Now in its third edition, Problogger isthe Bible for practical blogging basics. If you want to make money blogging, this is the book for you. Check out the blog and podcasts where there's more plenty to learn.
- Don't Make Me Think by Steve Krug - For the writer who needs to move from print-centric writing to writing for the web, Krug's book is perfect. It's a fast, easy read that will help you learn to write in clickable chunks with a mind to search engine optimization.
Books on grammar & punctuation
- The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White - Every experienced writer recommends The Elements of Style because it's just that good. My mother gave me a copy when I left for college and I still refer to it today. Time magazine named it one of the most influential books written in English since 1923.
- Eats, Shoots & Leaves, The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss - If you've ever wondered how the question mark got invented, this book is for you. Part treatise on the benefits of punctuation and part history lesson, this book makes the mechanics of our language fun. Who knew?
Books that shaped my writing
- One Writer's Beginnings by Eudora Welty - This grande dame of Southern writers gave a series of lectures at Harvard in 1983 on the surroundings and events that shaped her personality and her writing. It's inspirational and lovely. And, if you've never read any of Welty's novels, I highly recommend Delta Wedding.
The writers I most admire continue to improve their skills as long as they're alive. What books on writing do you recommend?