Writing, or any creative endeavour for that matter, is often not the loose, uninhibited flowy pastime people imagine it to be. Sure, there are sacred times when inspiration strikes, but for the most part it takes immense courage and personal discipline to start creating something, and see that creation through to the end. We think we're being held back because we don't have enough time, or because we don't have a secluded beach house to jot down our memoirs uninterrupted. The truth is a bit more complex than that - usually it is self-doubt and lack of belief in the validity of our expression that holds us back more than time ever will.
Maybe you feel like you want to start something creative, but you're trying to summon the guts to start. Or perhaps you know you want to write, but you're think your craft needs a little work. Either way, these books will help you get going, and encourage you along.
Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert: I'll be honest, I don't really enjoy Elizabeth Gilbert's fiction writing, which depresses me no end because she seems like such a warm, inspiring person. This is required reading for anyone in the creative field. Be sure to check out her podcast series as well, for even more amazing insight.
Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, Ann Lamott: Funny, irreverent and charming advice for writers. This book has been incredibly helpful to me in my writing life.
Becoming a Writer, Dorothea Brandle: Dorothea's core belief is that writers are not held back by their style, but rather by their emotional state. Her novel includes compassionate advice and practical tools for making writing a legitimate part of your life. As this book was first published in 1934, it reads as if it would not be out of place in a Downton Abbey episode. The advice, however, is perennial.
The Artist's Way, Julia Cameron: If there is any book that is guaranteed to nurture unbridled creative expression, while instilling a sense of regular, disciplined effort, this is it. The Artist's Way works best when you commit time to doing the daily exercises and working through the content. Even better, find a group of like-minded friends so you can work through the content together. To be honest, there is nothing better for your creative work than meeting with peers on a regular basis to share your challenges, successes and latest work.
The Elements of Style, William Strunk Jnr: This book is such a stunning celebration of the english language. It is best used as a reference book, but I turn to it whenever I want inspiration on how words can be used to elegant effect.
Writers and Artists Yearbook: Personally, I work best when I set myself big creative goals. The Writers and Artists Yearbook is pricey, but when I bought my first copy a few years ago, it felt like a sacred investment in myself and a belief that, one day, I would realise my dreams. Not only does it give contact details for a wide list of agents and publications, but it has useful articles on producing art and writing in a variety of genres / platforms.
What are your creative goals? I'd love to hear!