To celebrate Valentine’s Day, we’re sending you some books we love! These are books that have inspired us as writers and helped us to reimagine our writing processes as well as shape our writing lives. May you too be inspired.
Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert. It just came at the right time. I had been struggling to get focused on my writing. I wasn’t committing enough time to it, and I had gotten away from how good it can/should feel to be doing it. I took Big Magic with me when we went to Death Valley and, while my husband was off on his bike, I would read a few chapters, get absolutely inspired, and then write. By the end of the few days we were out there, ideas were sparking again, words were flowing, and I was back in love with writing. That, in combination with going to Asilomar [a regional SCBWI conference], kick-started me back into making my writing a priority again (time-wise and emotionally), and I’ve been riding that wave and reaping the benefits of craft growth since. Gilbert brought me back to remembering that, while hard work and frustration is always going to be part of writing, if the love and happiness aren’t there as well, then what’s the point? –Becky Levine
From Where You Dream: The Process of Writing Fiction by Robert Olen Butler. This one’s a craft book, but not your typical book of exercises. Butler’s method of “dreamstorming” has helped me dive deep into my characters’ experiences of the story world and their emotional landscapes. My writing has become more vivid and much more connected to my characters’ emotions. For additional deep learning, check out Butler’s 17-episode YouTube series in which he writes a short story from start to finish. –Anne-Marie Strohman
The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battle by Steven Pressfield. His description of “resistance” as the main enemy that keeps us from doing our work really resonated with me. His methods for combating it were helpful. The book is a good kick in the pants if you need to get your writing process back on track. –Laurel Holman
The Hero is You: Sharpen Your Focus, Conquer Your Demons, and Become the Writer You Were Born to Be by Kendra Levin. I really am enjoying Kendra’s book and her talk at Asilomar was super. My favorite part has been articulating who my ideal authors are and what their lives/crafts/voices/outreach are like. I got to meet and spend time with one of my idea authors–one with 200 million books in print–and it’s all because Kendra made me think outside the box. –Elizabeth Van Tassel
Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott. The idea that perfectionism can be a terrible thing was such a simple but important idea for me. I love her approach of tackling big projects “bird by bird”–one step at a time. Good for life in general, too!–Rusti Icenogle
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King. I remember being so sad by how he’d absorbed outside ideas of value and didn’t see the value of his own work for so long, and it was an important lesson to me at the time. –Rusti Icenogle
The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. I read this book first about fifteen years ago, and it opened up for me the idea of nurturing the artistic side of myself. I often go back to her idea of Morning Pages–three pages of writing first thing–especially when I am stuck, and I have loved taking myself on “Artist’s Dates” over the years–going to places that inspire and noticing what catches your eye. The little toy goat from my first artist’s date sits on the window sill in my office and reminds me to feed my inner artist. –Anne-Marie Strohman
What books have inspired you?
Anne-Marie Strohman (co-editor) writes picture books, middle grade novels, and young adult short stories and novels. She is trained as a teacher, an editor, and a scholar, specializing in Renaissance Literature. She is an active member of SCBWI and will graduate in July 2020 with an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Find her at amstrohman.com and on Twitter @amstrwriter.