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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.

                                More by this author

                                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 September 18, 2020

                                13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

                                13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

                                For the original article by Celestine: 13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

                                “We all have problems. The way we solve them is what makes us different.” ~Unknown

                                “It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.” – Hans Selye

                                Have you ever experienced moments when things just don’t go your way? For example, losing your keys, accidentally spilling your drink, waking up late, missing your buses/trains, forgetting to bring your things, and so on?

                                You’re not alone. All of us, myself included, experience times when things don’t go as we expect.

                                Here is my guide on how to deal with daily setbacks.

                                1. Take a step back and evaluate

                                When something bad happens, take a step back and evaluate the situation. Some questions to ask yourself:

                                1. What is the problem?
                                2. Are you the only person facing this problem in the world today?
                                3. How does this problem look like at an individual level? A national level? On a global scale?
                                4. What’s the worst possible thing that can happen to you as a result of this?
                                5. How is it going to impact your life in the next 1 year? 5 years? 10 years?

                                Doing this exercise is not to undermine the problem or disclaiming responsibility, but to consider different perspectives, so you can adopt the best approach for it. Most problems we encounter daily may seem like huge issues when they crop up, but most, if not all, don’t have much impact in our life beyond that day.

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                                2. Vent if you have to, but don’t linger on the problem

                                If you feel very frustrated and need to let off some steam, go ahead and do that. Talk to a friend, complain, crib about it, or scream at the top of your lungs if it makes you happy.

                                At the same time, don’t get caught up with venting. While venting may temporarily relieve yourself, it’s not going to solve the problem ultimately. You don’t want to be an energy vampire.

                                Vent if there’s a need to, but do it for 15 to 20 minutes. Then move on.

                                3. Realize there are others out there facing this too

                                Even though the situation may be frustrating, you’re not alone. Remember there are almost 7 billion people in the world today, and chances are that other people have faced the same thing before too. Knowing it’s not just you helps you to get out of a self-victimizing mindset.

                                4. Process your thoughts/emotions

                                Process your thoughts/emotions with any of the four methods:

                                1. Journal. Write your unhappiness in a private diary or in your blog. It doesn’t have to be formal at all – it can be a brain dump on rough paper or new word document. Delete after you are done.
                                2. Audio taping. Record yourself as you talk out what’s on your mind. Tools include tape recorder, your PC (Audacity is a freeware for recording/editing audio) and your mobile (most mobiles today have audio recording functions). You can even use your voice mail for this. Just talking helps you to gain awareness of your emotions. After recording, play back and listen to what you said. You might find it quite revealing.
                                3. Meditation. At its simplest form, meditation is just sitting/lying still and observing your reality as it is – including your thoughts and emotions. Some think that it involves some complex mambo-jumbo, but it doesn’t.
                                4. Talking to someone. Talking about it with someone helps you work through the issue. It also gets you an alternate viewpoint and consider it from a different angle.

                                5. Acknowledge your thoughts

                                Don’t resist your thoughts, but acknowledge them. This includes both positive and negative thoughts.

                                By acknowledging, I mean recognizing these thoughts exist. So if say, you have a thought that says, “Wow, I’m so stupid!”, acknowledge that. If you have a thought that says, “I can’t believe this is happening to me again”, acknowledge that as well.

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                                Know that acknowledging the thoughts doesn’t mean you agree with them. It’s simply recognizing the existence of said thoughts so that you can stop resisting yourself and focus on the situation on hand.

                                6. Give yourself a break

                                If you’re very stressed out by the situation, and the problem is not time sensitive, then give yourself a break. Take a walk, listen to some music, watch a movie, or get some sleep. When you’re done, you should feel a lot more revitalized to deal with the situation.

                                7. Uncover what you’re really upset about

                                A lot of times, the anger we feel isn’t about the world. You may start off feeling angry at someone or something, but at the depth of it, it’s anger toward yourself.

                                Uncover the root of your anger. I have written a five part anger management series on how to permanently overcome anger.

                                After that, ask yourself: How can you improve the situation? Go to Step #9, where you define your actionable steps. Our anger comes from not having control on the situation. Sitting there and feeling infuriated is not going to change the situation. The more action we take, the more we will regain control over the situation, the better we will feel.

                                8. See this as an obstacle to be overcome

                                As Helen Keller once said,

                                “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.”

                                Whatever you’re facing right now, see it as an obstacle to be overcome. In every worthy endeavor, there’ll always be countless obstacles that emerge along the way. These obstacles are what separate the people who make it, and those who don’t. If you’re able to push through and overcome them, you’ll emerge a stronger person than before. It’ll be harder for anything to get you down in the future.

                                9. Analyze the situation – Focus on actionable steps

                                In every setback, there are going to be things that can’t be reversed since they have already occurred. You want to focus on things that can still be changed (salvageable) vs. things that have already happened and can’t be changed. The only time the situation changes is when you take steps to improve it. Rather than cry over spilt milk, work through your situation:

                                1. What’s the situation?
                                2. What’s stressing you about this situation?
                                3. What are the next steps that’ll help you resolve them?
                                4. Take action on your next steps!

                                After you have identified your next steps, act on them. The key here is to focus on the actionable steps, not the inactionable steps. It’s about regaining control over the situation through direct action.

                                10. Identify how it occurred (so it won’t occur again next time)

                                A lot of times we react to our problems. The problem occurs, and we try to make the best out of what has happened within the context. While developing a healthy coping mechanism is important (which is what the other helping points are on), it’s also equally important, if not more, to understand how the problem arose. This way, you can work on preventing it from taking place next time, vs. dealing reactively with it.

                                Most of us probably think the problem is outside of our control, but reality is most of the times it’s fully preventable. It’s just a matter of how much responsibility you take over the problem.

                                For example, for someone who can’t get a cab for work in the morning, he/she may see the problem as a lack of cabs in the country, or bad luck. However, if you trace to the root of the problem, it’s probably more to do with (a) Having unrealistic expectations of the length of time to get a cab. He/she should budget more time for waiting for a cab next time. (b) Oversleeping, because he/she was too tired from working late the previous day. He/she should allocate enough time for rest next time. He/she should also pick up better time management skills, so as to finish work in lesser time.

                                11. Realize the situation can be a lot worse

                                No matter how bad the situation is, it can always be much worse. A plus point vs. negative point analysis will help you realize that.

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                                12. Do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it

                                No matter how bad your situation may seem, do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it. Life is too beautiful to worry so much over daily issues. Take a step back (#1), give yourself a break if you need to (#6), and do what you can within your means (#9). Everything else will unfold accordingly. Worrying too much about the outcome isn’t going to change things or make your life any better.

                                13. Pick out the learning points from the encounter

                                There’s something to learn from every encounter. What have you learned from this situation? What lessons have you taken away?

                                After you identify your learning points, think about how you’re going to apply them moving forward. With this, you’ve clearly gained something from this encounter. You’ve walked away a stronger, wiser, better person, with more life lessons to draw from in the future.

                                Get the manifesto version of this article: [Manifesto] What To Do When Things Don’t Go Your Way

                                Featured photo credit: Alice Donovan Rouse via unsplash.com

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