4 Best Books to Quickly Improve Your Writing

February 24, 2017

Not all writing advice is created equal, but these books are great instructables to improve your writing.

There she sat, pensive.

Watching clouds chase each other in the hazy afternoon sky while tapping her pencil on the desk.

She sighs longing for a ray of sunshine to illuminate her path.

If you've been checking out where to start on Amazon, you know then that it's a bit daunting. 

Between the numerous choices and the reviews - which sometimes confuses more than clarify - you give up and at best put it off for later. 

Which never comes incidentally. 

She nervously taps her foot then abruptly stands and cross to her shelves.

But nothing in her library can help.

And all she wants to do is simply afford her son's karate camp this summer.

With this list, I hope to help you define where you start. 

Hope begins in the dark...you wait and watch and work. You don't give up. Anne Lamott Quote

Remember, part of your blogging day should be geared towards self-development and there's no better way to get that started than by reading.

Today a reader, tomorrow a leader!

Shelly (Me😊) Is Widely Known As a Reader

And I love reading above everything else!

If you should ask someone who knows me to name the top three things they know about me, 7 out of 10 will list reading as #1. 

I read: 
  • on the bus, 
  • in a taxi, 
  • while waiting for the bus or taxi, 
  • when eating (an extremely difficult habit to break) 
  • while waiting for my friends to turn up for brunch or dinner and 
  • even while I wait for my date!
I'm so widely known for reading that my neighbors are shameless about giving me literature like:

  • books on the Seventh Day religion
  • books from Jehovah's Witnesses
  • novels and 
  • even old newspapers. 
I kid you not!
Truth be told, the old newspapers go to:

  • my vegetable garden compost
  • as a spread to prevent weeds from growing up between my tomatoes and peas, 
  • as well as to make pots for my seedlings.
In my book, there's always room for improvement, so these days instead of only reading for entertainment I'm now reading more for growth and self-improvement.

And not those stuffy textbooks from college either.

But books that are written by some prolific people whose wisdom is borne from hands-on experience and not from second-rate hand-me-downs. 

For example, Twitter Marketing That Sell's by Mike Kawula from Social Quant is a resource I refer to time and time again for strategies in continuing to grow my Twitter community. 

In Teach and Grow Rich by Danny Iny it's about you creating a product to share your valuable knowledge with others. It gives you the basic framework to create a successful online product. 

The 4 Best Books on Writing 

However, more specifically I'm reading to improve my writing.

Besides taking a few online courses and reading Jon Morrow and Henneke Duistermaat posts, a few of my blogging friends have also recommended I read these books to kickstart my challenge to improve my writing.

This post contains affiliate links. See more in my disclosure policy here.

1. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, by Anne Lamott

Anne says, "One of the gifts of being a writer is that it gives you an excuse to do things, to go places, and explore. Another is that writing motivates you to look closely at life, at life as it lurches by and tramps around".

How many times have you packed a bag and your camera and traipsed off in the name of research for your next blog post? 

Or, sat in the internet cafe sipping your latte and taking in everything that's happening around you?

From the old married couple looking at pictures of their grandkids to the kid with the purple and green hair with eyebrow and nose studs bobbing his head while checking up on his stock portfolio. 

"He - her father - ... taught me to put a little bit down on paper every day, and to read all the great books and plays we could get our hands on". 

What better advice could you get?

I'm not saying to go scrounging around in moldy, dusty archives, but read.

Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott

Take Away From Bird by Bird

  • be bold;
  • be original; and
  • let myself make mistakes;
Because I have a lot of feelings, observations, memories, dreams and opinions I want to share.

Anne's writing is like my favorite aunt telling me stories.

Humorous, entertaining, succinct yet highly relevant and actionable.

It's exciting! 

Her writing is very easy to understand and hilarious! 

Yet seriously teaching you at the same time:
  • the power of observing and
  • taking notes and
  • writing a little every day. 

2. The Art of Spiritual Writing: How to Craft Prose That Engages and Inspires Your Readers, by Vinita Hampton Wright

Vinita Hampton Wright states that the book is, "A manual ... for writers who hope to serve people's spiritual needs".

She goes further, "You won't find stunning prose here - mainly I provide lists and short paragraphs designed to instruct and help".

Also, "A significant number of the suggestions ... are given to help you make your writing more marketable".

In the words of Vinita, if your aim is to "Inspire, inform, challenge or delight the person who takes in your phrases and stories", this is the book for you.

As a blogger, bells and whistles are going off everywhere for me!

The Art of Spiritual Writing: How to Craft Prose That Engages and Inspires Your Readers, by Vinita Hampton Wright

Take Away From The Art of Spiritual Writing: How to Craft Prose That Engages and Inspires Your Readers

  • In written communication, everything that appears on the page matters.
  • Writing is a craft with its own rules of engagement.
  • Learn to write and write well.
  • Improving my writing will take work, but does not require genius.

    3. Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them, by Francine Prose 

    Francine Prose indicates, "... we learn to write by practice, hard work, by repeated trial and error, success and failure, and from the books we admire".

    Therefore, reading shouldn't be only for the sake of entertainment.

    But to observe how the writer:
    • structures sentences, 
    • use punctuation marks, 
    • diction,
    • how sentences are formed to convey information, and 
    • employing detail and dialogue.

    Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them, by Francine Prose

    Take Away From Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them

    The importance of being able to line edit my work and make my sentences shrink, snap, to ultimately emerge 
    1. more polished.
    2. Clear.
    3. Economical. 
    4. Sharp.    

    4. On Writing: A Memoir on the Craft, by Stephen King

    Stephen King is not only about psychological or horror thrillers like Rose Madder or Christine.

    He can throw down like the best of them.

    Because this man is a true wordsmith who's been on the coveted New York Times Bestseller List numerous times. 

    As a universal bestseller, there's no one more equipped to teach me and YOU how to get our readers to stick around and come back for more.

    On Writing: A Memoir on the Craft, by Stephen King

    Take Away From On Writing: A Memoir on the Craft 

    • "You can't please all of the readers all of the time; you can't even please some of the readers all of the time, but you really ought to try to please at least some of the readers some of the time".  
    • "Put your desk in the corner, and every time you sit down to write, remind yourself why it isn't in the middle of the room."

    Writing isn't about making money...it's about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your live as well. Stephen King Quote

    How I Was Tricked by James Patterson 

    James Patterson is among my favorite authors and I absolutely love his style!

    When getting to know James, he tricked me!

    • He creates a novel with a blurb that grabs me and leads me to the checkout aisle in the library or store.
    • This paperback has upwards of 350 pages.
    But when I opened this book
    • It has like a gazillion chapters,
    • short sentences, and 
    • even shorter paragraphs.
    • I felt I was engaged in intimate communication with his characters especially in the Alex Cross and Michael Bennet Series.  
    His books are irresistible and will keep you up all night rapidly turning pages.

    And therein lies the trick.

    His irresistibility! 

    I keep on saying, "Let me finish this sentence, this page, and just one more chapter".

    And before you know it:

    • the cocks are crowing, 
    • the sun is peeking in at the window and 
    • the book is finished.
    And my response is, "Really! I want more".

    I wasn't only tricked but hooked.

    For life!

    Not all writing advice is created equal, but these books are great instructables to improve your writing.

    As bloggers, this should be our aim, not to be in the Guinness World Records, but to create content that is irresistible to our readers and keeps them coming back for more and more and more.  

    She smiles happily, and bounds into the kitchen just as her son comes through the door.

    She sweeps him into a hug and twirls him around asking how his day went.

    "Mom! Mom!"

    "Are you okay," he asks.

    She sets him down and continues to beam at him happily.

    "I'm fine" she chortles pinching his cheek.

    "You're a ray of sunshine!"

    Wrapping Up

    Not all writing advice is created equal. For that matter, nor or all writers.

    But their lessons are all hard-won from years and years of practice.

    And that should be enough: 

    Because being a good writer doesn't happen over night.

    It takes practice.

    And practice makes permanent!

    Over to You

    Read more analytically to effect a change in your writing.

    And here's a list to get you started.

    Have a favorite business or self-improvement book?

    Do share so I can add it to my library.

    Do something to grow!

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