On creativity and the craft of writing

Working Tools

‘ [There] are still people who consider a bookshelf as a mere storage place for already-read books and do not think of the library as a working tool.’ Umberto Eco

Here is a list of some books on writing and the creative process that you may find helpful in supporting your own writing practice.

Writing Alone and with Others by Pat Schneider

Pat is the founder of Amherst Writers & Artists and her book offers so much to those beginning, or beginning again, to write.  Full of humanity, compassion and the firm conviction that those of us who write are writers. My bible.

The Rose Metal Press is a small independent press that has published three impressive Field Guides on the process and craft of writing Flash Fiction, Flash Nonfiction and Prose Poetry. Each one begins with an insightful introductory essay by the editor(s) on the genre concerned followed by a lively collection of essays, with writing suggestions, exercises and examples, by current practitioners and teachers of the form. Each of these books will have you itching to pick up your pen and expand your own writing repertoire.

Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction: Tips from Editors, Teachers, and Writers in the Field, edited by Tara L. Masih

Field Guide to Writing Flash Nonfiction: Advice and Essential Exercises from Respected Writers, Editors and Teachers, edited by Dinty W. Moore

Field Guide to Prose Poetry: Contemporary Poets in Discussion and Practice, edited by Gary L. McDowell & F. Daniel Rzicznek

Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg

The classic text to set free your creative self

Becoming a Writer by Dorothea Brande

First published in the 1930’s and seldom out of print since.  Well worth reading for her insights into the process and difficulties of beginning to write.

The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron

Well-known and very good.  Heavily influenced by the work of Brande above.

The Creative Habit: Learn it and use it for life by Twyla Tharp

Tharp is a well-known choreographer and her understanding of the creative process transfers across all creative endeavours.

Creating Short Fiction: the classic guide to writing short fiction by Damon Knight

This is a great aid to analyzing your own writing – and he introduces you to ‘Fred’.

Manuscript Makeover: Revision Techniques no Fiction Writer can afford to ignore by Elizabeth Lyon

A great companion book to Knight’s book above

The Portable Creative Writing Workshop by Pat Boran

Written by the Irish poet & fiction writer – this book is packed full of interesting and helpful activities for any writer. It has recently been re-issued.

Poetry: Reading it, Writing it, Publishing it  compiled and edited by Jessie Lendennie 

Recently published collection of articles by those in the know who address exactly what it says in the title.  Worth reading. Jessie Lendennie is the founder of Salmon Publishing.

Fires by Raymond Carver

A collection of essays, poems and short stories – his essay ‘On Writing’ is included here, and much, much more.

The Triggering Town by Richard Hugo

Lectures and essays on poetry and writing by an American poet and inspirational teacher

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

Subtitled ‘Some instructions on writing and life’ – this cuts to the chase with humour and insight.

Words in Place by Paul Matthews

Subtitled ‘Reconnecting with nature through creative writing’.  A very interesting and timely book prompting an engagement with the natural world using creative writing.

Your Life as Story by Tristine Rainer

Excellent book – how to write the unique story or stories your life makes.

A Writer’s Book of Days by Judy Reeves

This book is organized by month, with different aspects of the craft of writing addressed each month.  It also has a writing prompt for each day of the year.  A great book to pick up on any given day and work through regularly.  It will have you writing even when you think you can’t.

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