Advertising
Advertising

11 Books to Inspire, Encourage, and Cleanup Your Writing

11 Books to Inspire, Encourage, and Cleanup Your Writing

    I’d like to call myself a writer. But I have found that it is hard to do. Mostly because of fear of the craft and how I sometimes don’t think that I can “stack up” to other, better writers.

    What I have found is that my notion of me being terrible at writing isn’t anything unique. Not in the slightest. The best writers in the world all struggle with this notion on a daily basis. It’s hard for me to believe that writers like Steven King and Natalie Goldberg don’t believe that they are awesome at writing all the time, but it’s true.

    So, instead of being hard on myself I decided to read what other writers had to say as well as learn some writing technique in the process. Below are 11 books that can help you inspire, encourage and clean up your writing.

    On Writing Well

    This book is a classic and one of the first that I read when I got into writing. Zinsser writes in a very approachable style and reminds you that writing isn’t always fun; that it is a real job and that you have to write through blood, sweat, procrastination, and tears to be considered a writer.

    Advertising

    He is the one that helped me understand that writing less is more.

    On Writing

    It would be hard to not include a book about writing from one of the best selling authors of all time; Stephen King. This book dives into King as a person and also provides the reader with how he stays motivated and how he goes about the writing process. There is some excellent stuff in this book and definitely worth reading a few times to glean.

    Anyone that listens to Metallica while writing horror and mystery is my kind of human.

    Writing Down the Bones

    Ah, what can I say about Natalie Goldberg? That she is one of the greatest writing enthusiasts and teachers I have come across.

    In Writing Down the Bones, Goldberg reminds us that we can’t beat ourselves up as writers and no matter what we will. She shows us how to get out of our “monkey mind” and how to write without the inner critic stopping your from putting down your ideas.

    If you are a writer or even know a writer, Writing Down the Bones can “inspire” you and move you to keep your ideas and pen moving.

    Advertising

    The Artist’s Way

    Several months ago I heard about the idea of writing 750 words a day to get out of myself and to keep the flame of writing alive. It helps you by making a guarantee with yourself; no matter what, no matter how tired or apathetic I am, I will write 750 words a day.

    That idea came from the Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. Cameron suggests writing “Morning Pages” every day. The idea is to write 3 pages of long hand writing and no matter what don’t stop while you are writing. It is supposed to liven the writer in you as well as work through some cruft so you can be more creative.

    And it works.

    Bird by Bird

    Bird by Bird is a book by the infamous Anne Lamot. I have yet to read it but from the endless awesome reviews at Amazon, it seems to be a truly great book about writing.

    Lamott is known for speaking her mind and isn’t afraid to tell you the truth about writing. She has written around a dozen books

    The Courage to Write

    The Courage to Write is what it says; a short book to help writers not be afraid of the keyboard or pen and help to get them writing more. Raplh Keyes is a well known writing teacher and in this book tries to help us get over the fear of putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboards).

    Advertising

    Keyes writes about the reasons why we become fearful of writing and it’s no surprise that the fear is something in ourselves rather than something external.

    The Pocket Muse and The Pocket Muse 2

    This is a fun book and isn’t truly a writing technique book like most of the others. What the Pocket Muse is intended to do is give writers a spark to write and be creative. There are many sayings and prompts throughout the book with different types of visuals to get a writer’s mind going.

    It’s a nice little book to have by your side, especially if you want to find something for a little boost to get started writing.

    The Daily Writer

    The Daily Writer is another book that isn’t completely about writing technique. What the Daily Writer provides is 366 prompts and writing exercises that you can use everyday. Every good writer that I have encountered over the years has kept a journal or has written every single day without fail. So, something like the daily writer coupled with the above mentioned Morning Pages can kickstart your writing habit and your creative process.

    I’ve used the Daily Writer for almost 7 months now and it is definitely worth the time and money to check out.

    Immediate Fiction

    I tend to not write fiction but have been thinking about trying some more and more. Especially when a friend recommended “Immediate Fiction” to me. Once again, I don’t have first hand knowledge of this book, but according to my friend and reviewers on Amazon, this is one of the best books for help with writing fiction.

    Advertising

    The Elements of Style (4th Edition)

    Ah, the classic. I remember sitting in my first semester of college writing with this weirdly colored and amazingly short book as our text. I in no way recognized the importance of Mr. Strunk’s book then. It took several years and a revisit to college to understand its impact on my writing.

    The 11 rules of Usage and Composition are extremely valuable and something that every potential writer should take note of.

    The Essential Don Murray: Lessons from America’s Greatest Writing Teacher

    Don Murray is sort of the “black horse of writing”. Not too many people outside of the field know about him as he doesn’t have the grand allure of authors like Steven King. But Don Murray may have been one of the best writers and writing coaches in the West.

    The Essential Don Murray is a collection of all of Murray’s scattered works and provides the reader with many strategies and tips for writing. But, what this book truly shows us is how much Murray loved writing and tries to help the reader love it too.

    More by this author

    CM Smith

    A technologist and writer who shares advice on personal productivity, creativity and how to use technology to get things done.

    5 Project Management Tools to Get Your Team on Track To Automate or not to Automate Your Personal Productivity System How to Beat Procrastination: 29 Simple Tweaks to Make Design Is Important: How To Fail At Blogging 7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively 6 Unexpected Ways Journaling Every Day Will Make Your Life Better

    Trending in Lifehack

    1 Why You Have the Fear of Failure (And How to Overcome It) 2 How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators 3 How to Be Confident: 51 Proven Ways to Build Self-Confidence 4 How to Become an Early Riser and Stay Energetic 5 How To Study Effectively: 7 Simple Tips

    Read Next

    Advertising
    Advertising
    Advertising

    Last Updated on November 5, 2020

    Why You Have the Fear of Failure (And How to Overcome It)

    Why You Have the Fear of Failure (And How to Overcome It)

    Nobody enjoys failing. Fear of failure can be so strong that avoiding failure eclipses the motivation to succeed. Insecurity about doing things incorrectly causes many people to unconsciously sabotage their chances for success.

    Fear is part of human nature. As an entrepreneur, I faced this same fear. My ego and identity became intertwined with my work, and when things didn’t go as planned, I completely shut down. I overcame this unhealthy relationship with fear, and I believe that you can, too.

    Together we’ll examine how you can use failure to your advantage instead of letting it run your life. We’ll also look at how to overcome fear of failure so that you can enjoy success in your work and life.

    What Is Fear of Failure?

    If you are afraid of failure, it will cause you to avoid potentially harmful situations.

    Fear of failure keeps you from trying, creates self-doubt, stalls progress, and may lead you to go against your morals.

    What causes a fear of failure? Here are the main reasons why fear of failing exists:

    Patterns From Childhood

    Hyper-critical adults cause children to internalize damaging mindsets.[1] They establish ultimatums and fear-based rules. This causes children to feel the constant need to ask for permission and reassurance. They carry this need for validation into adulthood.

    Perfectionism

    Perfectionism is often at the root of a fear of failure.[2] For perfectionists, failure is so terrible and humiliating that they don’t try. Stepping outside your comfort zone becomes terrifying.

    Over-Personalization

    The ego may lead us to over-identify with failures. It’s hard to look beyond failure at things like the quality of the effort, extenuating circumstances, or growth opportunities.[3]

    False Self-Confidence

    People with true confidence know they won’t always succeed. A person with fragile self-confidence avoids risks. They’d rather play it safe than try something new.[4]

    How the Fear of Failure Holds You Back

    Unhealthy Organization Culture

    Too many organizations today have cultures of perfection: a set of organizational beliefs that any failure is unacceptable. Only pure, untainted success will do.

    Imagine the stress and terror in an organization like that. The constant covering up of the smallest blemishes. The wild finger-pointing as everyone tries to shift the blame for the inevitable messes onto someone else. The lying, cheating, falsification of data, and hiding of problems—until they become crises that defy being hidden any longer.

    Advertising

    Miss out on Valuable Opportunities

    If some people fail to reach a complete answer because of the lure of some early success, many more fail because of their ego-driven commitment to what worked in the past. You often see this with senior people, especially those who made their names by introducing some critical change years ago.

    They shy away from further innovation, afraid that this time they might fail, diminishing the luster they try to keep around their names from past triumph.

    Besides, they reason, the success of something new might even prove that those achievements they made in the past weren’t so great after all. Why take the risk when you can hang on to your reputation by doing nothing?

    Such people are so deeply invested in their egos and the glories of their past that they prefer to set aside opportunities for future glory rather than risk even the possibility of failure.

    High Achievers Become Losers

    Every talent contains an opposite that sometimes turns it into a problem. Successful people like to win and achieve high standards. This can make them so terrified of failure that it ruins their lives. When a positive trait, like achievement, becomes too strong in someone’s life, it’s on the way to becoming a major obstacle.

    Achievement is a powerful value for many successful people. They’ve built their lives on it. They achieve at everything they do: school, college, sports, the arts, hobbies, work. Each fresh achievement adds to the power of the value in their lives.

    Gradually, failure becomes unthinkable. Maybe they’ve never failed yet in anything that they’ve done, so they have no experience of rising above it. Failure becomes the supreme nightmare: a frightful horror they must avoid at any cost.

    The simplest way to do this is never to take a risk, stick rigidly to what you know you can do, protect yourself, work the longest hours, double and triple check everything, and be the most conscientious and conservative person in the universe.

    If constant hard work, diligence, brutal working schedules and harrying subordinates won’t ward off the possibility of failing, use every other possible means to to keep it away. Falsify numbers, hide anything negative, conceal errors, avoid customer feedback, constantly shift the blame for errors onto anyone too weak to fight back.

    Loss of Creativity

    Over-achievers destroy their own peace of mind and the lives of those who work for them. People too attached to “goodness” and morality become self-righteous bigots. Those whose values for building close relationships become unbalanced slide into smothering their friends and family with constant expressions of affection and demands for love in return.

    Everyone likes to succeed. The problem comes when fear of failure is dominant, when you can no longer accept the inevitability of making mistakes, nor recognize the importance of trial and error in finding the most creative solution.

    The more creative you are, the more errors you are going to make. Deciding to avoid the errors will destroy your creativity, too.

    Advertising

    Balance counts more than you think. Some tartness must season the sweetest dish. A little selfishness is valuable even in the most caring person. And a little failure is essential to preserve everyone’s perspective on success.

    We hear a lot about being positive. Maybe we also need to recognize that the negative parts of our lives and experience have just as important a role to play in finding success, in work, and in life.

    How to Overcome Fear of Failure (Step-by-Step)

    1. Figure out Where the Fear Comes From

    Ask yourself what the root cause of your negative belief could be.[5] When you look at the four main causes for a fear of failure, which ones resonate with you?

    Write down where you think the fear comes from, and try to understand it as an outsider.

    If it helps, imagine you’re trying to help one of your best friends. Perhaps your fear stems from something that happened in your childhood, or a deep-seated insecurity.

    Naming the source of the fear takes away some of its power.

    2. Reframe Beliefs About Your Goal

    Having an all or nothing mentality leaves you with nothing sometimes. Have a clear vision for what you’d like to accomplish but include learning something new in your goal.

    If you always aim for improvement and learning, you are much less likely to fail.[6]

    At Pixar, people are actually encouraged to “fail early and fail fast.”[7] They encourage experimentation and innovation so that they can stay on the cutting edge. That mindset involves failure, but as long as they achieve their vision of telling great stories, all the stumbling blocks are just opportunities to grow.

    3. Learn to Think Positive

    In many cases, you believe what you tell yourself. Your internal dialogue affects how you react and behave.

    Our society is obsessed with success, but it’s important to recognize that even the most successful people encounter failure.

    Walt Disney was once fired from a newspaper because they thought he lacked creativity. He went on to found an animation studio that failed. He never gave up, and now Disney is a household name.

    Advertising

    Steve Jobs was also once fired from Apple before returning as the face of the company for many years. [8]

    If Disney and Jobs had believed the negative feedback, they wouldn’t have made it.

    It’s up to you to notice your negative self talk and identify triggers[9]. Replace negative thoughts with positive facts about yourself and the situation. You’ll be able to create a new mental scripts that you can reach for when you feel negativity creeping in. The voice inside your head has a great effect on what you do.

    How To Be A Positive Thinker: Positivity Exercises, Affirmations, & Quotes

      4. Visualize all Potential Outcomes

      Uncertainty about what will happen next is terrifying. Take time to visualize the possible outcomes of your decision. Think about the best and worst-case scenarios. You’ll feel better if you’ve already had a chance to mentally prepare for what could happen.

      Fear of the unknown might keep you from taking a new job. Weigh the pros and cons, and imagine potential successes and failures in making such a life-altering decision. Knowing how things could turn out might help you get unstuck.

      5. Look at the Worst-Case Scenario

      There are times when the worst case could be absolutely devastating. In many cases, if something bad happens, it won’t be the end of the world.

      It’s important to define how bad the worst case scenario is in the grand scheme of your life. Sometimes, we give situations more power than they deserve. In most cases, a failure is not permanent.

      For example, when you start a new business, it’s bound to be a learning experience. You’ll make decisions that don’t pan out, but often that discomfort is temporary. You can change your strategy and rebound. Even in the worst case scenario, if the perceived failure led to the end of that business, it might be the launching point for something new.

      6. Have a Backup Plan

      It never hurts to have a backup plan. The last thing you want to do is scramble for a solution when the worst has happened. The old adage is solid wisdom:

      “Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.”

      Having a backup plan gives you more confidence to move forward and take calculated risks.

      Advertising

      Perhaps you’ve applied for a grant to fund an initiative at work. In the worst-case scenario, if you don’t get the grant, are there other ways you could get the funds?

      There are usually multiple ways to tackle a problem, so having a backup is a great way to reduce anxiety about possible failure.

      7. Learn From Whatever Happens

      Things may not go the way you planned, but that doesn’t automatically mean you’ve failed. Learn from whatever arises.[10] Even a less than ideal situation can be a great opportunity to make changes and grow.

      “Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn.”

      Dig deep enough, and you’re bound to find the silver lining. When you’ve learned that “failure” is an opportunity for growth instead of a death sentence, you conquer the fear of failure.

      For more tips on how to overcome fear of failure, check out the video below:

      Final Thoughts

      To overcome fear of failure, we can start by figuring out where it comes from and reframing the way we feel about failure. When failure is a chance for growth, and you’ve looked at all possible outcomes, it’s easier to overcome fear.

      Stay positive, have a backup plan, and learn from whatever happens. Your failures will be sources of education and inspiration rather than humiliation.

      “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” -Thomas A. Edison

      Failures can be blessings in disguise. Go boldly in the direction of your dreams and long-term goals.

      More Tips for Conquering Fear

      Featured photo credit: Patrick Hendry via unsplash.com

      Reference

      Read Next