Yet the year I published my webcomic, self-publishing was growing fast. I had to learn more about it. I read books about self-publishing fiction. That transitioned to reading more about writing fiction. Still, there are only a few writing books that have made a lasting impact on me. I find most books on writing to be not as helpful as I wish.
When reading about writing, it's important to find books that add more to who you are as a writer. It's been a difficult search, but I have come across a few that made an impact because they fit the way I handle information as an INFP.
So here are my favorite books on writing:
INFJ Writer by Lauren Sapala
If you don't know how much of an impact being an INFP has on your writing, start with this book. I like how Sapala sheds light on the writing process of INFPs. Her writing suggestions may or may not help you, but having a little bit of awareness can go a long way. Reading this book helped me to have a clearer picture of what kind of writing advice I should listen to.
Read INFJ Writer if you want to understand how personality type affects your writing.
A Writer's Space by Eric Maisel
This book is about more than setting up a nice writing desk. Out of all the writing books on this list, I mention Maisel's book the most in my blog posts. This book not only covers setting up physical writing spaces but also mental spaces. His chapter on writing in bed is fantastic (by the way, I created most of Mascara in bed). His chapter on morphing stories is very helpful. He also introduces a fascinating way of plotting fiction by following characters as they interact with their environment. This concept ended up being a major influence on how I plotted my current work in progress.
Read a Writer's Space if you want to build a writing habit, have a writing environment that fits you, and are dealing with a story that is constantly changing (a.k.a. the morphing story).
Wild Mind: Living the Writer's Life by Natalie Goldberg
Much like Steven King's book On Writing, this book blurs the line between writing advice and memoir. But for me, I found Goldberg's advice and insights on the writing life more helpful. After reading her book, I came away thinking, "I'll never say that I don't know what to write about ever again."
My favorite takeaways from her book are her "rules" and prompts for writing practice. They are so simple, it's liberating. She shows how writing practice can grow into works of creative writing. Her concept of writing practice helped me find what I needed to fix the biggest problems in my current WIP.
I also like how she explains the power of reading what you write aloud, either to yourself or to an audience. Plus, her thoughts on having a writing style build on how I feel about style--that style is who you are. She describes style as "our individual experiences being digested."
Read Wild Mind if you want a more flexible and intuitive writing life and inspiration while between writing projects.
(And a little bit of shameless self-promotion...If none of these books fit your needs, feel free to check out my latest book, I Can't Help Being an INFP Writer: 100+ Tips to Help INFP Writers Capture Ideas, Stay Motivated, and Overcome Problems.)
Fearless Writing by William Kenower
Writing is more than sitting your butt in a chair and typing stuff. It involves a lot of conflicting and uneasy emotions. What I like about Fearless Writing is how it highlights the emotional conflicts of writing and to do about them. I also like how the book expresses that writing with emotional impact is in some ways more important than plot. You can have a story with a lot of exciting stuff going on, but if it doesn't make the reader feel anything, what's the point?
Read Fearless Writing if you want to get a handle on your emotions toward writing and put emotions on display in your writing.
Story Trumps Structure by Steven James
This is the first writing book that made me feel that as a writer, I am not broken and that the way that I work is legitimate. After reading INFJ writer, I got the message that the way I write is different.
After reading this book, I embraced the way that I write more than ever. There are other writers out there that approach storytelling as I do. More specifically, the way James plots his stories is almost exactly the way I plan most of my stories, with a few differences. I do have some criticism for certain parts of the book, but to me his chapters in the section The Secrets to Organic Writing are amazing. I write about this book more in my post Using Writer's Intuition to Write Fiction.
Read Story Trumps Structure if you are in that awkward spot of being both a plotter and a pantser.
Wonderbook by Jeff Vandermeer
This book is a nice resource to have, especially if you are into science fiction and fantasy. This book is packed with tips and colorful illustrations. It also has enlightening interviews with other writers. The fantasy and whimsy of this book are attractive. Also what I like is how it doesn't tell you how to write. Instead, it gives you a palette of tools that you can choose from to improve your work.
Read Wonderbook if you are stuck in some technical aspect of your writing life and need advice.
What these books have in common…
The books on this list are about exploring the writing process. They all contain helpful exercises but no ridged "blueprints and plans" for success. The writing method that is natural for you is the best writing method for success.
- Focus on emotion and discovery
- Give support to writers who don't write in order
- Highlight the daily side of the writing life.
- Contain flexible rules and encourage writing fluidity. All writing matters and can grow.
Have you read any helpful books on the writing craft? Feel free to share in the comments!
For more about my writing process, read my post How I Work as an INFP Writer.