Books on Creativity, Language and Writing
On Writing by Stephen King
Leave it to Stephen King to turn writing lessons into a page-turner as engrossing as any of his suspense and horror novels. All the more magical because we know how King’s own story ends: in stupendous financial success. (His much-deserved critical success is long overdue but is coming along.) First published in 2000 and reissued last year in a 20th-anniversary edition, On Writing is a must-read for writers and readers alike: writers, for its advice on language, storytelling and process; readers, for a deeper appreciation of how King keeps you so engaged.
The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
This is just the push you need to get your procrastinating self to work.
Pressfield declares war on procrastination, which he calls Resistance, a force that repels the artist from their art. “It’s negative,” he writes. “Its aim is to shove us away, distract us, prevent us from doing our work.”
Pressfield is his own best case study of Resistance and its destructive capabilities. His breakout novel was The Legend of Bagger Vance, which later became a hit movie starring Will Smith and Matt Damon. However, success came only after years of effort and only after he had learned the hard truth that you just have to get to work – consistently and regularly, whether you feel like it or not. “Resistance is the enemy within,” he writes. Therefore, it must be battled from within.
“What finally convinced me to go ahead was simply that I was so unhappy not going ahead. I was developing symptoms. As soon as I sat down and began, I was okay.”
Track Down the Weasel Words: Writing Lessons from the Front by Dr. Angela Hunt
Weasels are said to be sneaky creatures that feed by sucking the eggs lain by their prey. This turns out to be a myth but explains the phrase “weasel words”: words that suck the life out of the sentence they’re in. Some are empty, like “very.” Others are simply unnecessary, like “up” in “stood up.” Ever hear of someone who stands down (except the Army after an alert is rescinded)?
Angela Hunt takes on the weasels in her guide to writing clearly and effectively. She covers more than the words themselves but also looks at the art of openings, inner monologues and other elements that are made better by applying a little thought love. From “She wondered if she had ever loved him” to “Had she ever loved him?”
Hunt invokes the words of William Strunk Jr. in The Elements of Style:
“Omit needless words.”