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15 Books For Everyone To Better Their Writing Skills

15 Books For Everyone To Better Their Writing Skills

Writing can be a struggle for even the most experienced writers at times. If it’s not difficulties with grammar, or having the knowledge to create a gripping and compelling piece of material, it’s struggles with finding the creativity needed. Writing is one of the most creative things in life, and it’s for that reason that these struggles often occur.

Thankfully, there are plenty of resources out there that can help everyone better their writing skills in all areas and be very useful in times when they face these difficulties. This list goes through 15 of the best books for everyone to better their writing skills, each with a short description and real life review from other people who have read the book and found it of great use.

1. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

Bird by Bird - Some Instructions on Writing and Life

    The difference between Bird by Bird and the other books in this list, is that it focuses on freeing yourself from writers block and unleashing your creativity, rather than the grammar aspect of writing. This is a great read for anyone who perhaps is stronger at being grammatically correct, but struggles to channel their creative flow.

    Customer Review on Amazon:

    “Though aimed at writers, this book is full of sage advice and razor-edged honesty for the average joe. If you’re a writer–and I claim to be one–it’s more than a few anecdotes and good advice; it’s a lifeline in the thrashing seas of rough-draftdom, a foothold on the sands of jealousy and vain ambition.” – Anna

    2) Between You and Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen

    Between You and Me

      Between You & Me is perfect for anyone who has a hard time taking information in. It plays on the humor side of things by making comical references about mistakes in punctuation and grammar using examples such as The Simpsons. An excellent book that helps you to truly understand some of the common mistakes you’re making in spelling, punctuation and grammar, while getting a laugh out of it at the same time.

      Customer Review on Amazon:

      “I learned from this book, and I enjoyed myself immensely while reading it. It’s made me want to pick up my next work of nonfiction sooner than the usual schedule (which would be maybe in six months or so?). It made me want to buy, read, and annotate/highlight a style guide to learn even more.” – Kelly

      3) The Only Grammar Book You’ll Ever Need

      The Only Grammar Book You'll Ever Need

        This is simply what it says it is on the front cover (apart from the other books on this list of course). This book’s a great resource for people to sharpen up their grammar skills, regardless of what you’re writing. It covers everything you’d ever need to know about producing top quality writing; whether you need advice on which words to use, how to phrase things, punctuate sentences or simply organize and structure your work.

        Customer Review on Amazon:

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        “This truly may be The Only Grammar Book You’ll Ever Need. I am a tutor and have found this book indispensable; it’s especially useful when coaching students for the SAT-II Writing exam and the English section of the ACT. Any grammar question you can possibly have seems to be in here, and it’s very easy to reference. I can’t imagine being without this book.” – Lulu

        4) The Chicago Manual of Style (16th Edition)

        The Chicago Manual of Style

          The Chicago Manual of Style is such an authoritative book that there’s now a 16th edition released, and it really is the perfect well trusted guide for help on your writing style. As times change and the way people work changes, newer editions of the manual are being brought out to keep the information fresh and relevant to how we work and communicate in the world today.

          Customer Review on Amazon:

          “I do freelance work as an editor and proofreader. I also tutor students in writing and they need to follow specific style guidelines. I find the Chicago Manual of Style to be a very helpful, detailed guide. Most publishing companies use CM as their style guide, so I recommend it to freelancers.” – Jaime

          5) 2015 Writer’s Market: The Most Trusted Guide to Getting Published

          2015 Writers Market - the Most Trusted Guide to Getting Published

            We’ve spoken about grammar, creativity, style and so on, but the 2015 Writer’s Market walks you through the complete process of getting yourself published and paid for your writing, which adds to your overall writing skill set. It’s gives a big benefit to readers who may have their writing skills down, but don’t know the first thing about contacting publishers and getting their content seen by others.

            The best part is that it includes sample query letters as templates that you can use to contact people efficiently and effectively.

            Customer Review on Amazon:

            “This is exactly what I was looking for…this publication has been on the market for years, but they used to call it something else. It is an incredibly helpful tool for any writer;actually a writer’s ‘Bible’.” – Julie

            6) Zen in the Art of Writing: Essays on Creativity

            Zen in the Art of Writing

              This book is another excellent read on unleashing your creativity and escaping from the common writer’s block. Ray Bradbury has some wonderful tips for writers looking to tap into their creative side and improve their quality of writing, such as writing 1000 words a day, getting into a weekly regime and letting yourself explode.

              Customer Review on Amazon:

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              “This book is like getting a transfusion. Not of blood, but of Ray Bradbury’s enthusiasm. His motto was “Exactly one-half terror, one-half exhilaration.” Well, this book takes out the terror of writing, and leaves us with pure exhilaration.” – Kendal

              7) The Elements of Style (4th Edition)

              The Elements of Style Book

                The Elements of Style is perfect for everyone looking to better their writing skills as it offers practical advice to people that help them turn dull and plain sentences into rich and powerful pieces of writing. It is perfect for people looking to communicate more effectively with their readers.

                Customer Review on Amazon:

                “As the ‘rules’ in this iconic book take up only 14 pages, it continually amazes me how often I can find the answer to a grammar or punctuation question within those pages. It doesn’t cover everything, and some of the ‘rules’ are of course changing with the passage of time – but if a wannabe writer can’t afford a whole bookcase of tomes on How to Write, then this is the one he or she should buy.” – Peggy

                8) They Say / I Say: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing (3rd Edition)

                They Say I Say - For Academic Writers

                  This book is perfect for academic writers who will need to build thorough and persuasive arguments within their writing. Even though it may be focused at academic writers who are required to produce top notch arguments, “They Say / I Say” is still a great read for all writers as it helps you build a thorough and compelling case for the topic at hand.

                  Customer Review on Amazon:

                  “Well, this book is of fundamental importance in any argumentative writing we do, not only academic writing but also any other kind of writing in which we need to prove a thesis. It really demystifies the common difficulties of writing and improves our understanding of the say sentences may go inside a text.” – Morris

                  9) The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writers Guide to Character Expression

                  The Emotion Thesaurus - Guide to Character

                    The Emotion Thesaurus is incredibly helpful for writers looking to better their skills as it helps you present emotions to others in a very compelling way. Not just the emotions of fictional characters that you’re writing about, but also within personal stories that you really want to sell to your readers in an expressive way.

                    Customer Review on Amazon:

                    “The best 5 bucks a writer could spend. I could see the emotions in playing out in my head, but lacked the words. Just skimming the book, I can and will take my writing from “Good” to “Amazing” Now I finally understand Show don’t Tell your reader. Even my daughter was impressed with the book. I would recommend this book to new writer like me and even the seasoned writers. I don’t think you will be disappointed.” – Jon

                    10) The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century

                    The Sense of Style - 21st century Writing

                      The author Steven Pinker gives readers his answers as to why the so much writing these days is of poor quality, and how it can be improved. Readers can imrpove their writing overall with the use of The Sense of Style, as Steven shares his brilliant insights of grammar, style, creativity and elegance.

                      Customer Review on Amazon:

                      “The Sense of Style is a scholarly and witty book on the art of writing well. Bestselling author, linguist and cognitive scientist Steven Pinker provides readers with a new writing-guide for the twenty-first century. He breaks down grammar rules and challenges purists on the best use of language.” – Book Shark

                      11) The Negative Trait Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Flaws

                      The Negative Trait Thesaurus - Character Flaws

                        Much like The Emotion Thesaurus previously mentioned, The Negative Trait Thesaurus is a great resource for enhancing characters within a particular story, even if it is that of your own. The book explores the many different flaws of people that writers could add to their character’s persona, and allows you to enhance your own story by considering these attributes you feel might be relevant to your own life.

                        Customer Review on Amazon:

                        “I turn to Ackerman and Puglisi’s Emotion Thesaurus regularly when needing inspiration for character reactions and action beats. Their new additions to the series are shaping up to be just as valuable, if not more so. In the introductory material to this volume, they state that they view this book as a “brainstorming tool.” This is spot-on.” – K.M Weiland

                        12) The Positive Trait Thesaurus: A Writers Guide to Character Attributes

                        The Positive Trait Thesaurus - Character Attributes

                          This wonderful book is the complete opposite to The Negative Trait Thesaurus. It focuses on all the attributes you could consider when creating a fictional character, or yet again when telling your own story. When added to your own personal story telling, incorporating certain attributes helps build a connection with your readers.

                          Customer Review on Amazon:

                          “Authors, you need this book. As a writing coach who reads and critiques 200 manuscripts a year, I can’t speak highly enough about this book and the companion book, the Negative Trait book. I have a bookcase full of writing craft books that I draw on in my teaching and recommend to my clients, but I can easily say these books by Ackerman and Puglisi are at the top.” – Susanne

                          13) Mistakes Authors Make: Essential Steps for Achieving Success as an Author

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                          Mistakes Authors Make - Achieving Success as an Author

                            The title says it all, loud and clear. “Mistakes Authors Make” is an incredibly informative book that explains some of the most common errors in writing and publishing that people tend to make. It can be a great indication as to where you might be going wrong, if you feel like you’re not quite getting the success in authorship that you want. Identifying your mistakes will get you back on track for success.

                            Customer Review on Amazon:

                            “The authors of this book think that everyone has a book in them and they are willing to explain all the things you should do right. You will learn about marketing avatars, time management, networking and much more. You will also know the difference between self-publishing and vanity publishing.” – Rebecca

                            14) Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer

                            Writing Tools - 50 Essential Strategies

                              Again, the title makes it so clear. Writing Tools is one of the best resources for every writer, outlining 50 strategies that will help you become a much more effective writer. Whilst many of the strategies in this book may be considered fairly simple, and featured in various other writing guides, there are several that are completely unique. This makes the book a must read for any aspiring writers.

                              Customer Review on Amazon:

                              “Roy Peter Clark’s Writing Tools is to authors and journalists what Home Depot is to construction workers. Clark gives writers a fully stocked shed of clear, concise tips, strategies and guidelines to instantly help improve anyone’s writing.” – Armchair Interviews

                              15) Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within (2nd Edition)

                              Writing Down the Bones

                                Last on the list, is “Writing Down the Bones”, where author Natalie goes through the relationship between Zen sitting practice and writing. An excellent book to top off the list, helping you become a more powerful writer by giving thoroughly researched advice. Natalie has been addressing writers through books and workshops for over 20 years, and the advice she gives from what she’s learnt in this time is astonishing.

                                Customer Review on Amazon:

                                “Natalie Goldberg’s insights about writing as a spiritual practice are just as valid today as they were in 1986 when this book was first published. Her suggestions to writers work, both for beginning writers and for writers who depend on words in order to make a living. I recommend this book to the emerging writers I mentor as a must-have reference second only to a good dictionary.” – Kay

                                So there you have it, 15 great books to help you improve your writing skills.

                                If you enjoyed this article, check out this similar post on 10 books to help you polish your English and writing skills.

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                                What are some other books you’ve read that improved your writing skills? Let us know in the comments.

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                                Dan Western

                                Founder of Wealthy Gorilla

                                Books for Everyone to Better Their Writing Skills 15 Books For Everyone To Better Their Writing Skills

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                                Last Updated on January 15, 2019

                                How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

                                How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

                                Many of us feel awkward talking to strangers. I’m a very outgoing person, even though I sometimes feel uncomfortable walking up to someone and asking a question or starting a conversation. I consider myself pretty high up on the extrovert meter. So what is it that makes us pause and become worried or anxious about talking to people we don’t know?

                                In this article, we will discuss why we feel this way as well as some tips on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

                                Step right up, don’t be shy!

                                Why We Feel Awkward Talking to Strangers

                                The next time you feel uncomfortable talking to a stranger, tell yourself that’s completely normal. There are numerous reasons why it’s actually natural to feel awkward talking to strangers:

                                Our Stress Levels Rise Around Strangers

                                Numerous studies have show that our levels of cortisol go up when we are around strangers.[1] Cortisol is the hormone inside of us which produces stress responses.[2]
                                So there you go, right off the bat you can see part of your standard response to strangers is due to a chemical reaction!

                                A very interesting by product of increased cortisol is that it makes us less empathetic. More than likely this can be traced to our evolution. The increase in the cortisol and the corresponding decrease in empathy makes us want to stay away from strangers. We are biologically wired to feel concern around strangers.

                                Evolution Taught Us to Be Wary

                                Evolution has also taught us to be wary of strangers in general. Humans as a whole have spent a large chunk of their history banded together in small protective groups. We did this in order to help protect each other and maximize resources.

                                When you think about it in this context, outsiders to our small groups or strangers are considered potential threats. Fear of strangers is common across almost all human cultures.

                                Culturally Conditioned

                                We can also thank our society for helping us feel uncomfortable and sometimes afraid of strangers. The term “stranger danger” is something most of us can relate to either growing up or raising kids. Or both.

                                I remember hearing this from my parents, mostly about not getting in someone’s car I didn’t know. And as the father of 2 teenage girls, you can be sure I’ve talked to them about this very concept more times that they want to hear.

                                The thought that strangers can be dangerous is built into us as it is. Toss in the amplification of the media on strangers doing things such as kidnapping kids and it takes it to an even higher level.

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                                Now that we’ve reviewed some of the reasons why we are nervous, let’s look at why you should talk to strangers more.

                                Benefits of Getting over the Awkwardness

                                Let’s take a quick look at some of the advantages of how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward. These are some high level benefits of talking to strangers.

                                1. Broadens Your Network

                                After you talk to someone, you didn’t know previously they become someone you know at least a little bit. This alone helps broaden your network of people you know. This is helpful in many ways whether it is work related or socially related.

                                2. Improves Your Communication Skills

                                I am a huge proponent of the value of solid communication skills and have written about it often. The more you talk to people, especially people you don’t know, the better your communication skills become.

                                Interacting with a wider variety of people will bring the added benefit of improving your communication skills.

                                3. Continually Learning

                                So many of us don’t actively seek to learn new things. This is one of the primary keys to staying engaged in life and our own personal self fulfillment.

                                Almost every time I speak to someone I didn’t know previously, I’ve learned something new. When we speak to strangers, it pushes us out of our comfort zones and we tend to learn new things.

                                4. Increases Self Confidence

                                Every time we learn to do something we were previously anxious about, we feel better about ourselves.

                                Forcing ourselves to talk to strangers will lead to increased self confidence. As we get more and more comfortable doing something that previously made us feel awkward, our self confidence will go up and up.

                                So, how to talk to strangers to reap these benefits?

                                How to Talk to Strangers

                                Here are some tips to on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

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                                1. Say Hello

                                Putting “say hello” first may seem a bit obvious but let’s take a deeper look. Much of the social awkwardness when speaking to strangers is simply breaking the ice. The first words that will engage someone.

                                Most people will respond when someone says hello or hi to them. And those that don’t, you probably don’t want to talk to anyway.

                                Practice being the person that opens the door to a conversation. Say hello.

                                2. Ask About Them

                                Something that I have noticed over the years is that people love to talk about themselves. Even fairly private people tend to open up when asked about events in their lives.

                                You can ask leading questions that get people to talk about themselves and recent events. Things like recent movies watched or the summer vacation are great to get someone talking.

                                As a father, I also know that people love to talk about their kids. Asking about kids is a fairly easy topic to bring up and in general, most people will expound upon all the great things their kids do or are involved with.

                                3. Just Do It

                                One of the biggest reasons we don’t do things we want to or know we should is because we overthink it. Quit thinking about it so much and just do it.

                                When you give yourself the time to analyze every little angle about a situation, you also give plenty of time to talk yourself out of it. You’ll wind up thinking what if this happens or what if that happens.

                                Try to force yourself to jump right in without thinking about it too much. Whenever I have done this, I always feel great about it afterwards, no matter how it turned out.

                                4. Don’t Take It Personal

                                One of the greatest lessons in life I ever learned was don’t take anything personally. We all go through life with our own sets of experiences and see things through our own lens. The way people react to different situations has almost nothing to do with us. It has to do with previous experiences and the way people feel about things other than us.

                                When someone’s reaction isn’t what you’d hoped or expected, chances are it has nothing to do with you. Remember that and keep it in context.

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                                5. Get a Chuckle If Possible

                                I used the word chuckle purposely because it makes me laugh. In my opinion, it’s one of those funny words. We all like to laugh because it makes us feel good. And when someone makes us laugh, we typically remember those people in a positive light.

                                One of the best ways to make a conversation easy and free flowing is to get some laughter going. It doesn’t mean you have to be the master joke teller or anything. See if you can work in a way to make the person you are talking to get a smile or some laughter in. In fact, laughing at yourself maybe a nice try.

                                6. Detach

                                A great feeling is when you don’t mind which way something turns out, that you will be fine no matter what happens. Kind of like when I watch my two favorite football teams play against each other. I don’t really care who wins, I just want a fun game.

                                Treat talking to strangers the same way. You don’t really care how the conversation goes because you are detaching from the outcome. Make it a fun time with yourself and if the conversation goes well, awesome! If not then no big deal, move on.

                                7. Share Your Stories

                                Well, all like to feel connected to other people. And many times we wind up hanging out with people that we have things in common with. No surprise here.

                                To help with how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward, tell stories that have commonalities with the person you are talking to. Kids are an easy one. I have a daughter who was a competitive cheerleader and now plays club volleyball. I have instant connection and stories with strangers I speak with who have kids that play sports. It’s easy to relate to.

                                So when you are speaking to a stranger and you have a story or mutual connection point, bring it up.

                                8. Give a Compliment

                                Almost everyone likes hearing a compliment, whether they admit to it or not. As a general rule, we don’t give out enough compliments. It’s amazing how one small remark someone tosses your way about how good you look can literally make your entire day.

                                When you are speaking with someone you don’t know, see if you can work a compliment in. Nothing creepy here. Not a good idea to tell someone you just met that they are the prettiest or handsomest person you ever met. However, if you can share how you like their tattoo or shoes or something like that, it will help put the conversation into an easy going, smiling place.

                                9. Relax Your Body Language

                                If you go into a situation all worried and nervous, it shows on your body. Your shoulders are tensed up, there’s a look of consternation on your face, things like that.

                                When you engage a stranger in conversation, make it a point to relax your body language. Take a deep breath before you engage the person, let your body relax, and put a smile on your face. This will help relax you and it has the added benefit of putting the other person more at ease.

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                                If they see that you are relaxed, it helps them relax. Plus having open, engaging body language is very conducive to inviting someone to open up into a conversation with you.

                                10. Practice, Practice, Practice

                                Like everything else in life, talking to strangers gets easier with practice. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.

                                Make it a point to talk to several strangers each week and it will definitely help you relax as you do it more and more.

                                After a while, it will become something you don’t even think about, you just do it. And that takes all of the awkwardness out of being in these type situations.

                                The Bottom Line

                                As we have seen, it is perfectly natural to feel awkward talking to strangers. We are biologically built that way and we have our own society constantly warning us how dangerous it is. It’s no wonder we feel awkward talking to strangers!

                                There are numerous benefits to learning to be more comfortable talking to strangers. See if you can employ some of the techniques mentioned to learn how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

                                Once you start practicing speaking with strangers more often and utilizing some of the tips, you will become more comfortable doing so. This in turn will lead to a learned new skill and increased self confidence.

                                Remember, everyone you know was a stranger at one time. Now get out there and make some new friends.

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                                Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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