The 7 Best Inspirational Books For Writers (2021 Review)

Writer Reading

The writing life is full of mystery, leaving us to guess how to handled the blank page, plot problems and the daily grind. Lucky for us, many writers have written about writing. Say that ten times fast.


If you are looking to kick writer's block to the curb or just want to explore creative living, these inspirational books will help!  I consider these books my touch stones. They have given me numerous life lessons, shifted my outlook and my output. They will offer you the opportunity to peer into the private lives of many creative people. They will keep you sane, inspired and grounded! 

Before we begin, let’s take a quick peek at the book list.

Mary K. Tedrow

-an award-winning high school English teacher- 

“Reading is the inhale; writing is the exhale”

Stephen King "On Writing"

Our Top Pick

Description:

Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer’s craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have.

The Artist's Way Julia Cameron

For Writers Block

Description:

Julia Cameron's novel approach guides readers in uncovering problems areas and pressure points that may be restricting their creative flow and offers techniques to free up any areas where they might be stuck, opening up opportunities for self-growth and self-discovery.

Little Locksmith Katherine Hathaway

Obscure Gem

Description:

Katharine’s struggle to transcend physical limitations and embrace her life, her body, and herself. Her spirit and courage prevail as she expands her world far beyond the boundaries prescribed by her family and society: she attends Radcliffe College, forms deep friendships, begins to write, and in 1921, purchases a house of her own that she fashions into a space for guests, lovers, and artists. 

Big Magic Elizabeth Gilbert

Creative Living

Description:

From the worldwide best-selling author of Eat Pray Love and City of Girls: the path to the vibrant, fulfilling life you’ve dreamed of. Fantastic inspiration for the new you.  

On the Writing Life Annie Dillard

Relatable 

Description:

A best-selling, Pulizer Prize-winning author looks at her craft and, in a series of illuminating metaphors and anecdotes, paints a picture of a demanding, unpredictable, and sometimes absurd existence.

Mastery Robert Greene

For the Prolific Writer

For the Prolific Writer

For the Prolific Writer

Description:

Each one of us has within us the potential to be a Master. Learn the secrets of the field you have chosen, submit to a rigorous apprenticeship, absorb the hidden knowledge possessed by those with years of experience, surge past competitors to surpass them in brilliance, and explode established patterns from within. 

Bird by Bird Anne Lamott

Pick Me Up!

Amazon Description:

For a quarter century, more than a million readers—scribes and scribblers of all ages and abilities—have been inspired by Anne Lamott’s hilarious, big-hearted, homespun advice. Advice that begins with the simple words of wisdom passed down from Anne’s father—also a writer—in the iconic passage that gives the book its title.

What Are Inspirational Books For Writers?

Any book that gets your creative engine pumping! Writers face so many challenges and sometimes we need a little spark of inspiration. These books will feed your soul and encourage you to write more pages. 

What Are The Different Types of Books For Writers?

There are instructional books, writer's memoirs, workbooks, spiritual guidebooks and poetic tales about the creative life. Pick and choose what best suits your current needs. 

What Do You Look For In The Best Inspirational Books For Writers?

Know what you need at the phase you are at today. If you are trying to master the art of storytelling pick a more practical book. If you have serious case of writer's block then select a book that will open you up. If you want to live a more creative life than learn from the masters!


Our Top #7 Inspirational Books For Writers

This book is damn good, even if you aren’t a fan of Stephen King’s work! You will gain a lot from learning from this prolific career writer. King shares everything he knows about writing fiction and he does it with humor, honesty and anecdotes. 

One of my favorite sections in this book is the tale of how Stephen King sold his breakthrough novel Carrie. He was a teacher, living paycheck-by-paycheck, working on stories that had yet to be lucrative until one day he received a telegram that would forever change his life path. 

My wife, sounding out of breath but deliriously happy, read me a telegram. “Carrie officially a Doubleday Book. Is $2500 advance okay? The future lies ahead." 

Love, Bill (page. 83)

Stories in this book have continuously nourished me during times of ease and discouragement. King has taught me that tenacity is a requirement, reading is essential and showing up to the page is a non-negotiable. 

Stephen King has written over 60 books! It would be imprudent not to peel open these pages and see what’s inside!

stephen king

-author-

If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.  There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.

Pros:

  • Insider look into a Famous Writer's Journey
  • Practical advice about the writing process
  • Relatable 
See also  How Did Helen Keller Write Books?

Cons:

  • Not a fan of Stephen King

Whitney's Takeaway :  Write, Read. Repeat. 

I call this an experiential, spiritual workbook for any person who needs to unleash or recover their creativity. This book is a twelve-week journey to discovering yourself, what is holding you back and how to tap into your creative flow when it’s blocked, dormant or just needs a booster seat. This book emphasizes the idea that creativity and spiritually are deeply connected.

The heart of creativity is an experience of the mystical union: the heart of the mystical union is an experience of creativity. (page 2)

The Artist’s Way taught me to honor my childhood dreams and my yearnings, because they are what guide us to our authentic purpose. It also helped me to shatter the internal messages that have long stopped me from taking myself seriously as an artist.

Juila Cameron

-writer-

What we really want to do is what we are really meant to do. When we do what we are meant to do, money comes to us, doors open for us, we feel useful, and the work we do feels like play to us. 

One of my favorite parts of this book is the quotes in the margins. I am a quote collector and I love how she has incorporated them so seamlessly into each chapter. I also picked up the habit of journaling while working my way through The Artist’s Way.  Morning journal pages are a key component in the creative process according to Julia Cameron. 

“To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.”

- Joseph Chilton Pearce (page 29)

Pros:

  • A follow along process for unblocking your creativity
  • You will learn to play and be curious
  • The lessons will help you live a more authentic life

Cons:

  • If you hate journaling, this might not be the be book for you!

Whitney's Takeaway :  Creativity only flows when we are connected to the spirit within us and around us.

This book is an obscure treasure that should not go forgotten. I can’t remember exactly how I learned of The Little Locksmith but I do know that Elizabeth Gilbert holds it in high regard. So I purchased a copy and this gem arrived on my doorstep. Little did I know what it would unlock inside of me and how much I would cherish the brave, endearing story of Katharine Butler Hathaway. 

This book is a personal account of Hathaway's creative life. In the early 1900’s she suffered from tuberculosis as a child, causing her spine to be malformed. Hathaway spent the majority of her youth restricted to a bed while her imagination grew. She developed a strong desire to be a writer and to own her own home. (In the early 20th century!)

katharine hathaway

-author-

I decided that I would be a writer, and I was determined to be the kind of writer, like Flaubert, who removes everything from his life except his writing in order that his writing may live and he may live in it.

This coming-of-age story follows Hathaway’s writing life and her fearless acquisition of a house that plays a pivotal role in her metamorphosis. 

I wished my house could be a refuge for such humble, anonymous, groping ones - not only a refuge but a place of rebirth, a starting point for great destinations.  (page 152)

Despite Hathaway’s physical limitations, she finds a way to liberate herself from her fears and discovers a world of inner magic. This book sweetly beckons us to trust ourselves and not let anything hold us back from what you truly want. 

THE LITTLE LOCKSMITH

I discovered that my decision was only a question of whether I preferred to be governed by fear or by a creative feeling, and although I was very frightened I knew I could not choose fear. 

Pros:

  • A beautiful tale about personal bravery 
  • You will be inspired by Katherine's ability to defying all odds
  • A peek into a creative life

Cons:

  • Lacks practical advice
  • Some may view it as overly optimistic

Whit’s takeaway: On the other side of fear is freedom. 

This book ROCKED MY WORLD. It is a lighthouse amidst the fog. So many of us view the artist or the creative person as a tortured soul. We have come to believe in the stereotype that the artist is a dark, moody character who can’t control their emotions and relies upon stimulants to function or create. Elizabeth Gilbert calls BULLSH*T on that big fat, soul sucking lie. (Thank the Heavens someone finally spoke up!)  

I am going to get a little personal...I used to be depressed. I thought I was born with melancholia and when I tried to write, guess how much work I produced? Some but not a lot. When I was really, really depressed, I produced a goose egg. Then I transformed my mental and physical health and everything turned around. I let go of my melancholy, got happy and started feeling great, then I started to wonder if I was going to be able to tap into my creativity without all the gloom. The answer is HELL YES! A million times yes.  Gilbert unpacks the lie of the tortured artists in Big Magic. 

elizabeth gilbert

-curiousity expert-

A creative life is an amplified life. It’s a bigger life, a happier life, an expanded life, and a hell of a lot more interesting life. Living in this manner—continually and stubbornly bringing forth the jewels that are hidden within you
—is a fine art, in and of itself. 

I have listened to Big Magic on audio at least four times and each time Elizabeth Gilbert’s velvety voice brings forth enlightenment. She reminds us all, that the life of the artist can be fun if we give ourselves permission to delight in the work. She provides insights into how to collaborate with the creative forces and enjoy the journey. 

See also  How to Deal with Writing Rejection

Pros:

  • It will spark your curiosity
  • You will learn about tapping into your muse and finding inspiration
  • This book can help the suffering creative

Cons:

  • Lacks practical advice

Whit’s takeaway: Follow your curiosity and don’t let fear get the best of you because you never know what wonders lie ahead. 

This 111 page book peers into the life of a Pulitzer prize winning writer who has spent years wrestling words onto the blank page. Dillard’s collection of short essays offer penetrating insights that are both candid and poetic. She tells honest and quirky personal accounts of her writing process.

annie dillard

-award wiing author-

Putting a book together is interesting and exhilarating. It is sufficiently difficult and complex that it engages all our intelligence. It is life at its most free...If you are fortunate enough to be able to to try it, because you select your materials, invent your task and pace yourself.

Dillard’s eloquent words about the literary process are pearls plucked out of the clinched mouth of an oyster that you never knew you needed. I frequently find myself pulling this book off the shelf when I am feeling unsure or lost in the daily grind. Her honest tales urge every writer to travel on this strange and twisted path we have chosen for ourselves. 

A writer looking for subjects inquires not after what he loves best, but after what he alone loves at all... You were made and set here to give voice to this, your own astonishment. (page 67-68)

Pros:

  • Unique in tone and message
  • Glimpse inside the life of a literary artist and pulitzer prize winning author

Cons:

  • a short book
  • Might be a little too "poetic" for some

Whit’s takeaway: Your daily life as a writer matters, you must be willing to take the good with the bad. 

For anyone seeking to become a master in their field this is the book for you. Greene utilizes the strategies of masters from diverse backgrounds to demonstrate real life methods for reaching your highest potential. (Leonardo Da Vinci, Martha Graham, Mozart, and more!) 

This book offers profound insights into why following your Life Task is so imperative, what steps are required to reach mastery and how changing the way you think can transform your life.    

What I like most about Mastery is how it breaks down the process of what leads to greatness. It illustrates how other people faced challenges and practiced their craft until they became masters. This book really focuses on the long game of pursuing your dreams. 

MASTERY

The only real impediment is yourself and your emotions... they are normal to the process and are experienced by everyone, including Masters. What you can do is have faith in the process. 

Pros:

  • Helps you understand what it takes to be a master in your field
  • You will learn from real life examples and historical figures
  • Practical insights on how to achieve greatness

Cons:

  • Not directly related to the craft of writing
  • A lengthy book with very detailed descriptions

Whit’s takeaway: If you want to be the best, you must learn from the best

Anne Lamott is a writer and teacher by trade, who teaches straight forward lessons in Bird by Bird. This book is like having a front row seat in her classroom. Lamott offers intuitive instructions on the writing life covering topics from shitty rough drafts, jealousy, and misconceptions.

BIRD BY BIRD

One of the things that happens when you give yourself permission to start writing is you starting thinking like a writer. You start seeing everything as material.  


If you ever wanted to read a book that distills all the wisdom a writer has gained in their lifetime in a relatable way, this is the book for you. Lamott conveys so beautifully the experiences and the thoughts that many writers face on a daily basis. 

Tell the truth as you understand it. If you’re a writer, you have a moral obligation to do this. And it’s a revolutionary act - truth is always subversive. (page 226)

I have read Bird by Bird more times than I can’t count and most of the pages aren’t highlighted because all of the pages are brimming with wisdom. 

Pros:

  • Offers up scenarios that every writer can relate to 
  • Addresses the emotional challenges of creative living
  • This book can help the perfectionist writer

Cons:

  • Doesn't provide practical writing instructions
  • Spiritual elements that some may not appreciate

Whit’s takeaway: Let your uniqueness be the through-line of your work.

Not matter what book you pick or where you are on your creative journey, I hope you find the message that you seek to carry on with your storytelling dreams! 

Stories with Whitney

Leave a Comment

Share
Reddit
Tweet