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15 Books For Everyone To Better Their Writing Skills

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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 July 20, 2021

                                How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

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                                How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

                                You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

                                Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

                                Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

                                Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

                                1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

                                According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

                                “Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

                                Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

                                Warming up

                                If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

                                If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

                                Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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                                1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
                                2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
                                3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

                                Stay hydrated

                                Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

                                To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

                                Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

                                Meditate

                                Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

                                Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

                                Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

                                Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

                                2. Focus on your goal

                                One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

                                Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

                                Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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                                Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

                                If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

                                3. Convert negativity to positivity

                                There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

                                ‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

                                It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

                                Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

                                Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

                                Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

                                4. Understand your content

                                Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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                                However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

                                “No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

                                Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

                                Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

                                One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

                                5. Practice makes perfect

                                Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

                                In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

                                Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

                                6. Be authentic

                                There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

                                Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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                                Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

                                To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

                                With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

                                Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

                                7. Post speech evaluation

                                Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

                                Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

                                We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

                                You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

                                Improve your next speech

                                As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

                                Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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                                • How did I do?
                                • Are there any areas for improvement?
                                • Did I sound or look stressed?
                                • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
                                • Was I saying “um” too often?
                                • How was the flow of the speech?

                                Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

                                If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

                                Reference

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