If you write, chances are you’ve noticed there are days when you’re consumed by creativity, a conduit between the ideas taking shape in your head and their transference to the page. You can’t get it all down fast enough. Then there are the days when every word has to be dragged, protesting from a sullen, selfish brain that has no wish to share its secrets – not even with its owner. Oh, and did I mention those words are covered in forward-facing barbs that rip and lacerate as you pull them out.
Sometimes, when the very act of writing has become painful drudgery and you think “I can’t be any good – surely it’s not meant to be like this…”, all you need to get going again is a little inspiration and a reminder of why you love doing what you do. I guarantee you will find something to restore your faith in your own creative process in at least one of these books:
- Bird By Bird: Some instructions on writing and life – Anne Lamott
“Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write. It was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, ‘Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.'” A wise and witty take on the reality of a writers life.
- Zen in the Art of Writing – Ray Bradbury
Reflections on the experience of writing. Bradbury couches everything in examples from his own life and work. Vibrant and whimsical, it can’t fail to inspire the fiction writer in you.
- Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the writer within – Natalie Goldberg
A spiritual guide to the writing process that brings together Zen meditation and writing in a practice that plumbs the depths of a writers soul. The short chapters are perfect pep talks for a flagging psyche.
- On Writing: A memoir of the craft – Stephen King
Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, King’s advice is grounded in his vivid memories from childhood through his emergence as a writer, from his struggling early career to his widely reported, near-fatal accident in 1999—and how the inextricable link between writing and living spurred his recovery. Brilliantly structured, friendly and inspiring, On Writing empowers and entertains.
- The Artists Way – Julia Cameron
First published a decade ago this book was an international bestseller on the subject of creativity. Famous for it’s free-writing practice of Morning Pages, provocative and inspiring, it sets out clear guidelines for unlocking your inner artist.
Whether you’re just getting started or looking for a reboot, there’s something here to inspire. Have you got any favourites to recommend? What’s your prescription for getting you back on the road to writerly wellness?