If you’re anything life me, every year seems to go the same way. January rolls in and you try to hunker down, take full advantage of a new start, and get going on all of the creative writing goals you’ve been wanting to achieve but have neglected in the past. But truthfully, it’s hard to get yourself totally re-motivated just because the year has changed on the calendar. While you’re still unpacking all that has happened personally, professionally, and socially in the last 12 months, it can seem like you’re lagging behind everyone else when it comes to embracing the creative hustle. But the truth is, everyone needs a little help when it comes to restarting their goals and for that there is really no better place to turn than books.
Especially for those among us who want to make writing goals and creating a main priority of their 2018, there are countless books out there with a plethora of inspiration, information and motivation. Below are 11 common writing goals, and some creativity books that will help you directly with each of them, taking on writer’s block, first drafts, and just finding ways to live your best and fullest creative life. Get ready to hit more goals than ever this year, and make your writing better than ever, too.
Do You Want To Make Writing More Manageable? Read ‘Several Short Sentences About Writing’ by Verlyn Klinkenborg
Sometimes the hardest part about writing (if my own experience is any indication) it getting over the overwhelmingness of all those blank white pages.If you want to get over that hump in 2018, Several Short Sentences About Writing might be able to help. Klinkenborg disregards all other rules you’ve heard about writing and focuses instead on each individual sentence, putting one after the other until you’ve got your finished piece. By believing that each sentence is small, but powerful, you can string them together without any of the scary expectations.
Do You Want To Write More Often? Read ‘M Train’ by Patti Smith
If your main writing struggle year after year is struggling to find the time just to sit down at your desk and let the words flow, Patti Smith’s M Train is the book for you. While it’s not your typical creativity book, M Train is a combination of Smith’s personal stories and how the arts have changed her life. Part of that includes her daily trip to her favorite coffee shop to write, to ruminate on the world, and just to be with herself in a creative space every single day. Knowing that Smith has written countless albums, poems and books by doing this will be hugely inspiring when it comes to setting aside your own time to make things.
Do You Want To Finish Your First Draft? Read ‘Bird by Bird’ by Anne Lamott
Anne Lamott’s beloved Bird by Bird focuses in very specifically on the idea of creating a “shitty first draft” (a draft that no one will ever read but you) and she gives advice on everything from characters to plots to world building… all with the same refrain that the most important part of writing is to actually write. Make sure to have a highlighter handy when you pick this one up; you’re going to want to return to the advice within over and over again.
Do You Want To Push Yourself Out Of Your Comfort Zone? Read ‘The Art Of Asking’ by Amanda Palmer
If you want to push your creativity to a whole new level, Amanda Palmer’s The Art of Asking will help you out in multiple ways. First, Palmer’s super unique career trajectory — from performing as painted statue in the park for tips to becoming a world-touring recording artist — will prove to you that you can make a creative life for yourself in a number of unique (and maybe a little bit weird) ways. But Palmer also talks here about opening up her creative life to others and asking for help in ways both big and small. If that’s something you’ve found yourself struggling with, Palmer will inspire you to break out of your own self-imposed brick walls and reach for something even better.
Do You Want To Take A More Lighthearted Approach To Creativity? Read ‘Things Are What Make You of Them’ by Adam J. Kurtz
I think every writer and creative has probably at one point or another taken themselves and their work a little bit too seriously. So if your goal for the new year is to make sure that writing is actually fun for you, then Things Are What You Make of Them is the only creative resource you need. The book contains 100 pages filled with nuggets of inspiration, motivation, and guidance, all bound together in beautifully illustrated pages. And the best part is that each page is perforated, made to be torn out and hung on your wall or propped up against your computer so that you can see them every single day. It will be more fun to write than ever before.
Do You Want To Get Past Your Writer’s Block? Read ‘Big Magic’ by Elizabeth Gilbert
Writer’s Block is one of the issues more most cited for unfinished manuscripts the world over. But if you want to overcome that demon this year, Big Magicmight just be the thing to help. Gilbert’s creative manifesto delves into a lot of different aspects of writing and making things, but one of the biggest pieces of advice she relates throughout the book is to come to terms with an understanding that creation can be divine in nature. By being open to your own ideas and inspirations, you will in turn be able to write and make and build whatever it is you are meant to. If a free-spirited approach to writing seems up your alley, you can’t go wrong.
Do You Want To Learn More About Words And How To Use Them? Read ‘Word By Word’ by Kory Stamper
Sometimes you just need to strip your love of words back down to the bone, forgetting all the pressures and stresses of writing. For this goal, Word by Word is both a fun and educational way to remind yourself why you love language so much in the first place. Stamper takes a behind-the-scenes look at dictionaries — the words that make it in, how we decide what they mean, and the overall complexity of our lexicon. If you believe that words are our most inexhaustible source of magic, and you want to get back to a place of wonder when it comes to stringing them together in your own manuscript, this is definitely the book you need on your TBR come 2018.
Do You Want To Make Sure Your Grammar Is On Point? Read ‘The Elements Of Style’ by William Strunk Jr. and E.B White
The Elements of Style is a much-loved classic for a reason. The book’s advice is at on point now as it ever was, the ultimate a go-to guide when in need of a hint to make a turn of phrase clearer or a much-needed reminder on how to enliven prose with the active voice. Everything you’ve ever forgotten from your high school grammar classes, along with everything you never even knew, this book is the best way to achieve the goal of impeccable grammar in your work in 2018. And Maira Kalman’s 57 exquisitely rendered illustrations give the revered work a jolt of new energy, making the learning experience even more colorful, interesting and easy to understand than ever before.
Do You Want To Make A Living From Your Writing? Read ‘Scratch’ by Manjula Martin
If you need some practical advice and inspiration to reach the goal of making a living out of your writing, then Scratch is the best resource for you. Featuring essays from such acclaimed writers including Cheryl Strayed, Roxane Gay and Nick Hornby, the book takes the reader through the realities of making a living as a writer, taking into account the pros and cons of things like keeping or quitting your day job, taking or skipping an MFA program, paying your dues and so much more. If 2018 is the year you really want to commit to writing as your career, this book will be a hugely important resource for you when it comes to reaching that big creative goal.
Do You Want To Work Around Your Mental Health? Read ‘We Are Never Meeting In Real Life’ by Samantha Irby
We Are Never Meeting In Real Life is Samatha Irby’s own memoir-based essays, and so not exactly a creative manifesto. But, whether you are also working on a collection of essays, or are just trying to write beyond your struggles with mental health, Irby is the ultimate resource for you. Because it is undeniable that this collection is hilarious, witty and wonderful, and throughout Irby talks about her own struggles with anxiety and trauma. Not only does she turn these realities into fodder for her own best work, she also uses her writing to explore and work through these experiences. If your goal is to do the same, this book absoutely needs to make it onto your 2018 must-reads list.
Do You Want To Embrace Your Own Unique Creative Lifestyle? Read ‘Daily Rituals’ by Mason Currey
Do you sometimes feel like you’re just not living a very creative life and you feel like you have to change everything about your day to day to make it happen? Well, spoiler alert: that’s just not possible. And, honestly, it’s totally unnecessary if you take Daily Rituals into account. This book shares the daily rituals of 161 famous creatives, from Austen to Warhol, proving that there is no one way to make things. If you want to stop comparing your weekly word count to the rest of your writing group, or you’re not quite prepared to start your work day at dawn, this book will help you see that the only way to be a writer is to write.