Category Archives: Writing

20 Great Books for Cultivating Writing Skills and Creativity

20 Great Books for Cultivating Writing Skills and Creativity

Writing a book can be a very harsh process. It can be likened to a marathon race where your resolve is tested. And it takes a great deal of will power to finish it. It also takes great will power to stay motivated through the entire process.

One of the best ways ways to stay motivated is to read books that not only inspire you to write but also cultivate your writing techniques. Here is a list of great books that will help you to cultivate your creativity and writing.

Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury

Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury

Ray Brad Bury is a prolific writer who has had around seventy years of writing experience. He has inspired an entire generation of readers to dream, think and believe.

Zen in the Art of Writing is a breath of fresh air for writers. The writing in itself shows the true beauty of the written word, and uses colorful and striking phrases that can rouse you from any writing slump.

The prose gives an intimate look on the struggles all writers face. It shows how writing is a true art form. Zen in the Art of Writing is a sweet reminder to writers everywhere to take pleasure in the written word.

Making Ideas Happen by Scott Belsky 

Making Ideas Happen by Scott Belsky

Author Scott Belsky is a entrepreneur, investor and author. And throughout most of his career has helped organizations to make their ideas into reality.

Making Ideas Happen shows how tenacity and hard work is important. Especially when it comes to writing. This highly inspiring book shows you how to make strategies that will help you realize your writing dreams.

Where Good Ideas Come From by Steven Johnson

Where Good Ideas Come From by Steven Johnson

Steven Johnson creates a truly immersive book that shows readers how certain people, cultures and organizations are able to come up with truly great ideas.

Have you ever wondered where some of the greatest innovations of all time come from? Who created them? How they influenced human society as a whole? In Where Good Ideas Come From the author creates an illuminating book that reveals how these innovations changed the human race and made us what we are as a people.

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

Steven Pressfield is a well known author of historical fiction. He knows full well the constant struggle authors deal with everyday. It is a battle within oneself, a battle for creative success.

The War of Art is a truly inspiring read that shows how the creative struggle can be beaten by hard work and sheer tenacity. The book is full of warrior metaphors that help push you to be the best you can be.

Jack’s Notebook by Greg Falley

Jack's Notebook by Greg Falley

Greg Folley has worked as an innovation consultant and has helped to innovate some of the worlds most prestigious companies.

In Jack’s Notebook the author shows how the author was able to use his skills in problem solving to make his plans into reality. This book is a great push for anyone who is struggling with creativity. Whether you are a writer suffering from writers block or a family going through a messy divorce this book is a must have.

Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

The flow is a mindset where your full focus is on your work and nothing else seems to matter. Next thing you know hours have passed and you have achieved your goal. This is a mindset sought by creative people all over the world.

Sadly it is not as easy to summon up as we would want. In Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience author Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi teaches you how to attain this ideal state of mind for the best creative results.

The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron

The Artist's Way By Julia Cameron

Author Julia Cameron is a highly respected author that has traveled the artist’s way for most of her life. She shows her experiences in her book The Artist’s Way.

Being a writer can be considered a journey. A journey to be the best we can be. It can be fraught with peril and rewards. This highly inspiring book shows us how we can reach our true potential if we follow the path of the writer with courage and discipline.

The Artist’s Way is in many ways the book on creativity. It is an international bestseller and countless people have used it as a guide to a creative lifestyle.

How to Get Ideas by Jack Foster

How to Get Ideas by Jack Foster

Jack Foster is a creative director for various advertising agencies with more than 40 years experience and he is now willing to share his experiences in his book How to Get Ideas.

Thinking up new ideas can be a chore. This is because truly great ideas are very hard to come by. Which is why author Jack Foster’s new book is a welcome one.

How to Get Ideas gives you the chance to think up new ideas without having to wrack your brain unnecessarily.

On Writing Well by William Zinsser 

On Writing Well by William Zinsser

On Writing Well teaches readers how to write clearly and eliminate clutter. William Zinsser creates an easy to follow guide on how to effectively write clear and concise sentence composition.

It is a quick and concise guide to improving your writing. It points out the common writing errors that you commit and gives very good advice on how to fix it.

Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer by Roy Peter Clark 

Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer by Roy Peter Clark

Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer is a must have for any aspiring writer. This book is a potent source of writing advice that shows readers how to reach their potential as writers.

It is a masterwork that dispenses a lifetime’s worth of creative and writing advice. It is essential for young aspiring journalist and writers.

Art Before Breakfast: A Zillion Ways to be More Creative No Matter How Busy You Are by Danny Gregory 

Art Before Breakfast: A Zillion Ways to be More Creative No Matter How Busy You Are by Danny Gregory

Creativity is a must for every writer. Too bad it is not that easy to find. With Art Before Breakfast: A Zillion Ways to be More Creative No Matter How Busy You Are you have the chance to cultivate your creativity.

Danny Gregory is an innovative thinker that provides inspiration to artist all over the world. As a writer you can use the contents of this book to motivate you in your quest for excellence.

Stimulated!: Habits to Spark Your Creative Genius at Work by Andrew Pek & Jeannine McGlade

Stimulated!: Habits to Spark Your Creative Genius at Work by Andrew Pek & Jeannine McGlade

Stimulated! explores five habits that can expand your creativity. It is written in a fun and innovative manner that allows you to broaden your creative horizons in the most spontaneous way possible.

This immersive book is specially designed to get you out of a rut and prevent writers block.

Story by Robert Mckee

Story by Robert Mckee

The author Robert Mckee has had a myriad of screenwriting workshops all over the world. And they have earned him an international reputation for influencing novices and helping future screenwriters.

The book in itself is about screen writing but it can be used for any creative endeavor. Story breaks down any story into separate parts and puts it back together. Through this book you can develop your story writing style to the best of your ability.

Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey

Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey

Great artists have always had a certain ritual that they always keep. Whether it is a slight mannerism or a bizarre novelty these rituals have helped them to become great in their chosen art form.

The author Mason Currey compiles the habits, routines and rituals of great artists, scientist and thinkers. If you want to follow their example read this book.

Creativity On Demand: How to Ignite and Sustain the Fire of Genius by Michael J. Gelb

Creativity On Demand: How to Ignite and Sustain the Fire of Genius by Michael J. Gelb

As a writer you need to be able to call upon a good amount of creativity and inspiration in order to effectively write your book. Sadly though motivation can be somewhat difficult o attain.

Which is why it is Creativity On Demand: How to Ignite and Sustain the Fire of Genius is a must have. With this highly effective book on creativity you are taught to clear you mind and open the flow of creative energy.

Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All by Tom Kelley

Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All by Tom Kelley

Creative Confidence is a truly great book for writers everywhere. The book’s main premise is that everyone has creative capabilities. You just need to know how to utilize them. Author Tom Kelley shows you how to fully unlock your full potential.

Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg

Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg

Author Natalie Goldberg has always seen writing as a practice that helps writers comprehend their own lives. In Writing down the Bones the author urges readers not to conform to self-imposed rules. the book also encourages readers to look at writing not as a systematized concept but as a way to express yourself.

The Copywriter’s Bible by Alistair Crompton

The Copywriter's Bible by Alistair Crompton

Copy-writing is a skill that takes years to perfect. It takes excellent writing skills and the innate ability to create engaging content. With Alistair Crompton’s The Copywriter’s Bible you are given a veritable treasure trove of straight forward advice on copy-writing from the best copywriters in the business.

The New Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards

The New Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards

The right side of the brain has always been associated with creativity. All creative thought is influenced by the right side of the brain. The New Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain is author Betty Edwards’ revised book that draws on neuroscience research and teaches artists on how to truly tap into their creative power.

It is perfect for artists and writer alike, because it gives you greater belief in yourself and how to deepen your creative perception on the world.

The Book of Doing by Allison Arden

The Book of Doing by Allison Arden

Can you still remember when you were a child learning to make arts and crafts and making up new games everyday. Doesn’t it make you wonder how you were able to make up those games without too much trouble.

Author Allison Arden shows how in the pursuit to live adult lives we have left behind the child-like sense of wonder. In our quest to be true adults we consider ourselves too old or to busy to be creative.

The Book of Doing is a dynamic book that shows you how to tap into your inborn creative energy. It helps you to release yourself from the shackles of doubt and to open yourself up to an enriching stream of ideas.

What Does It Take to Write a Great Book?

What Does It Take to Write a Great Book?

Have you ever dreamed of writing your very own book? Making your own mark on the literary world? Creating a classic that will make you famous long after you are dead? Well so has every other writer that has lived. This dream has propelled writers to greatness through the years. But what makes a great book? What separates them from other books? Of course there is really no fool proof plan or special ingredient as to what constitutes a great book. But great books do have certain similarities that could be used to create a great book. Here are some examples that could help you in your quest to make a great book.

Great characters make a great book

Throughout the years one of the staples of truly great books are great characters. This is because great characters are what adds texture and character to a story. They are also what makes the story truly great. Haven’t you noticed that you remember the characters of a book faster than the book itself?

This is because the characters have made a bigger impression on you than the story. Such examples being Alexandre Dumas’ masterpiece The Count of Monte Cristo. The protagonist Edmond Dantes captures the people’s imaginations more than the events of the story because it is through his indomitable will that he was able to escape Chateau Di’f. It was his need for vengeance that propelled him to the heights of French society and allowed him to take revenge on those who wronged him. This character is a perfect symbolism of the strength of the human spirit.

Supporting characters are almost as important as the main character if they are written properly. This is because they provide a foil or stabilizing factor to the main character. One great example is Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Dr. Watson. The Sherlock Holmes series of books had a magnificent main character in Sherlock Holmes because of his brilliance and intricacies but these traits were further explored when the two work together. Dr. Watson accentuates Holmes’ incredible intellect and provides a contrast with him by acting as the straight man of the duo.

The same could even be said about a story’s antagonist. A great antagonist could create an incredible amount of conflict and fear in the storyline and many an antagonist in classic stories have left their mark on literature.

Try to think up something new

One of the most important aspects of writing a great book is coming up with something new. With the many books that have come before your work, there are already a myriad of stories written and because of this you will have to come up with something new. Something that readers have yet to read. The only problem though is that it is easier said than done. Readers can be very finicky about what they like. One book can seem good but unsatisfactory to others. There is no definite formula on what makes a book great. The best you can do is to be adventurous and courageous in your writing.

It is also important that you refine your writing style. You can never be too good at something, and this includes your writing style. Practice your writing every chance you get. You should also personalize your writing style. This way your book can be recognized by readers. This is a great way for you to cultivate a fan base.

Refrain from old clichés

Using old clichés is a big mistake when it comes to writing books. This is because readers are already quite familiar with them. Old clichés can be a lot of things. They can be how a character is written, the writing style or a certain plotline. Old clichés will earn you nothing but reader’s ire. Be original in your writing.

Be tenacious in your writing

One of the best attributes you can have as a writer is tenacity. Having tenacity allows you to weather any obstacle that comes your way. You must accept the fact that there really is no guarantee that your book will be a success. In many ways writing a book is a gamble. On one hand you can achieve your wildest dreams and become rich and famous. On the other hand your book can be lost in the sea of other aspiring books and never reach its full potential.

All in all your greatest advantage when it comes to writing a great book is your love for the written word. A genuine love for writing will not only make you a better writer but it will also make the entire process a joy.

10 Common Writing Mistakes You Should Look out For

10 Common Writing Mistakes You Should Look out For

As a writer you want your work to stand out, To shine above its contemporaries. But this is easier said than done. This is because writing is a very complex and multifaceted art form.

There are so many ways that you can make your work great. There are also so many ways that you can make a mistake.

And with writing this can be very unfortunate because readers are quite finicky about mistakes. And this could damage your chances of getting readers in the future.

Which is why it is very important that your work is free of any mistakes. Be they grammatical or story wise.

Here are 10 common writing mistakes that you should really look out for and how to correct them.

1. Unfocused sentence composition

One of the most common mistakes committed by some writers is that their work tends to lose focus as the sentence goes on. This is usually committed during the middle of the sentence.

The starting sentence is on track with the main topic then as the paragraph continues the focus tends to veer from the main topic and becomes jumbled and distorted.

This usually happens when the writer wants to put too much content but does not take the time to fully explain every aspect of the sentence.

How to correct this:

Make your writing quick and concise. Making your work too superfluous would only make your work look unprofessional and cause you to veer off track.

Be straight to the point and avoid overly complicated sentence compositions. Flowery prose will only muck up your work and confuse the reader.

2. Misspelled words

This is by far one of the most embarrassing mistakes for any writer. With a lot of writing software nowadays having spellcheck features it is a very embarrassing thing to go through as a writer.

Sadly though this still remains the most common writing mistake committed by writers. This is mostly due to carelessness and the work being rushed.

How to correct this:

This is by far the easiest to correct. You should just double check your work every time you finish writing a sentence.

Although it is tempting to rely mostly on spellcheck you should at least have a secondary reference to check from. This could be an old fashioned dictionary or you can run a spell check through the internet just to make sure.

3. Wrong usage of words

This can be anything. You could have used compliment instead of complement while writing a letter to your boss or used adverse instead of averse in a term paper.

Whatever word you may have used they still have the same effect of making your work sound unprofessional and poorly written.

How to correct this:

Usually the reason why this mistake is committed in the first place is the fact that they sound alike and are almost spelled alike.

Thus with these types of words you will have to be wary and double check which ones are which. You can check a dictionary or better yet check it through the internet.

4. Overly long sentences

The use of overly long sentences is another example of mistakes committed by writers. They usually consist of sentences that contain too much information and end up convoluted and confusing. This mistake can be due to two reasons.

One reason is that the writer is trying to convey too much information to the reader but lacks the proper writing skills to properly write about it.

And the other reason is that the writers work lacks content and the author is trying to make the sentences longer with just filler words to cover it up.

How to correct this:

You should remember that it does not matter how long your sentences are. If your work lacks substance no amount of filler sentences will change that. Practice your writing style any chance you get. Practice is truly the only way to remedy this shortcoming.

5. Use of weak qualifiers

Using halfhearted words such as a little and almost weakens your sentence composition. It lessens the message of your writing and gives off a halfhearted feel to it.

This is detrimental to the sentence prose because it unconsciously stains your prose with timidity and lowers your credibility.

How to correct this:

When you write always remember that you are trying to convince readers that your book is worth reading.

Thus you should avoid using weak qualifiers because this make your prose sound weak and unconvincing. Try to make your prose sound strong and sure. This will make readers believe in your work.

6. Use of run on sentences

A run on sentence occurs when two independent clauses are connected improperly. Run on sentences usually contain too many ideas without proper punctuation.

Some writers make this mistake because they tend to forget proper punctuation use.

How to correct this:

You can correct a run-on sentence by connecting or separating its parts correctly. You can do this by adding a period and splitting the run on sentence into smaller sentences.

A semi-colon can also be added to intersect between two independent clauses to make the sentence a correct one.

You can also use a comma paired with a coordinating conjunction and subordinating conjunctions to make the sentence more grammatically correct.

7. Sentence fragments

Sentence fragments are a string of words that do not form a complete sentence. The missing part may be a predicate or a subject or when a sentence does not express a complete idea.

How to correct this:

The key to correcting sentence fragments is through revision. The important part of revising a sentence fragment is by distinguishing what is missing from the sentence.

Is it missing a subject? A verb? Is it a leftover phrase? An abandoned clause? Once you have identified what is missing you can revise it by adding what is missing or rewrite the whole sentence to make it more grammatically correct.

8. Improper use of Apostrophes

Apostrophes can be the bane of some writers. What may seem simple and easy to do for some is excruciating for others. But this mistake is one of the easiest to correct.

How to correct this:

The first thing you should understand is that the apostrophe is used for a reason. It is to either indicate a possession or a contraction. The only time that you don’t use an apostrophe is when the word used is plural.

9. Incomplete comparisons

This mistake entails the writer creating a sentence that compares something to nothing. For example you say that a boxer is faster, stronger, and quicker. But you don’t specify who he is better than. This could really frustrate readers because the sentence just sounds incomplete and awkward.

How to correct this:

The solution to this problem is pretty easy. Always make sure when you are comparing something to something else always state what that something is. This will save you from a lot of confusion.

10. Awkward sentence construction

These types of sentences are sentences that are confusing and difficult to read. Awkward sentences can usually be identified by certain characteristics.

These characteristics usually range from being too wordy, repetitive or having dangling modifiers. These factors tend to make the sentence appear nonsensical and can cause readers to judge that the book is badly written.

How to correct this:

If you think your sentence composition is awkward you should try to read it aloud. It is well known that you are more likely to spot a grammatical error if you read it aloud to yourself.

Another method is to minimize the number of words used. This will make the sentence more quick and concise.

One thing you should always remember when you write is to slow down. It is better to do things slow and steady and get the job done right. Rather than doing it fast and making mistakes in the long run.

20 Ways to Make Book Editing Easier

20 Ways to Make Book Editing Easier

Being a writer can be pretty overwhelming. Especially if you are a self-published writer. Being self-published you are expected to do technically everything. Not only that you are expected to shoulder all the expenses of having your book published.

If you have the ample funds all’s well and good then. But what if you don’t have the extra money to pay for all the publishing expenses. Foremost among these expenses is hiring people to edit your book. With the usual price going as high as $50 an hour having your book professionally edited can be pretty pricey.

Which is why it is a very good idea to self-edit your book. True if you do a bad job, it might hurt your book’s chances of being sold. But who’s to say that you can’t do a good job. A good many writers do their own book editing and have had no problems. Here are some 20 easy to follow tips on how to edit your own book.

1. Don’t rush the process

One of the biggest mistakes you can ever do if you edit your own book is to rush the process. Book editing takes a lot of work. Not only do you have to do the usual grammar checks on the book. You also have to make sure that your work makes sense. Which is why when you finish your work don’t immediately rush to edit your work. Take a rest, go out and have a change of scenery.

Take a week off and go on a short trip. Just as long as you change your routine. You may not notice it at first but after finishing a book, you are most likely suffering from mental fatigue. And to start on them immediately won’t do you any favors. You will inevitably make mistakes because you are not fully prepared for the process.

2. Have family and friends read your work

The best thing about writing your own book is that it can be a family event. Having family and friends read your work can help you gain a whole new perspective on your work. One of the setbacks of editing your book is that you might have a narrow outlook on the story.

Which is why it is a good idea to have someone who is not fully invested look at your work. By having someone else read your work, you can have an unbiased response and make the necessary changes.

3. Eliminate overused words

One of the most common mistakes done by writers is that they tend to overuse certain words. Consider them as your favorite words and although there is technically no limit on the use of certain words it can be quite annoying for readers if they have to see the same word in every sentence.

The type of book writing software that you use is also a factor because they have different functions that can help you locate overused words. Two great examples is Scrivener and Microsoft word. If you are using Scrivener there is a function wherein you can see the frequency with which you use words. Microsoft word also has a free Word Usage and Frequency add in that makes it even more efficient.

4. Be consistent in your spell checks and grammar lapses

Although most book writing software already come equipped with a spell check function, it always pays to be vigilant. When you edit your work always make it a point to double check your spelling. With the enormity of the task of editing your book you may miss some misspelled words. Which is why you should always set aside some time to double check your work.

This also goes for grammar. There are various Automatic editing tools that you can use to make your grammar more refined. Some great examples of these editing tools being Grammarly and Autocrit.

5. Replace unnecessarily complicated or obscure words

When you edit your book try to identify unnecessarily complicated words. Sometimes in our wish to impress readers, we end up using words that normal readers would usually have to look through a dictionary to know. You can of course use complicated words, but only if it adds something to the manuscript. If it does not, it would only look awkward and unwieldy. Using them too frequently would only make you look pretentious to your readers.

6. Refrain from going overboard in your attribution

Although it is okay to be colorful in your attribution, going overboard with it can be annoying for readers. Try to be more subtle in how you use attribution. It is enough to use said or you don’t even have to sue attribution at all.

7. Also refrain from going overboard with punctuation, fonts and sizes

Some writers have the habit of overusing punctuation, fonts and sizes in order to add emotion to their sentences. Try to avoid this practice, because it is technically a way to hide the lack of emotion in a dialogue. Here are some examples of overusing punctuation, fonts and sizes.

  • He lost…… HIS HAND!!!!!!
  • I WAS WRONG!!!!
  • He broke the vase….I AM SOOOOO ANNOYED!!!!!

8. Refrain from using old cliches

Nothing annoys readers more than cliches. Old and overused tropes that do not anything to the story. If you want to really impress your readers don’t rely on them. Think up something new and exciting.

9. Use established writing styles

If you want your book to look professional you should follow established writing styles. One great example is the Chicago Manual of Style. This is considered to be one of the best editorial references ever and is widely used by most writers.

You can subscribe to the Chicago Manual of Style for only $35 a year. Of course you don’t really need to religiously follow it. But it is still advisable that you follow the format and learn more about it because it would help you improve your writing style.

10. Make sure your punctuation are used correctly

Have you ever had a problem with punctuations? Overused or used them incorrectly? Don’t worry it is a common problem for most writers. Just brush up on proper punctuation and make the necessary changes if you see them.

11. Don’t go overboard on the editing process

It’s okay to be thorough in your work but there is no need to go overboard with it. Although you should be critical of your work during the editing process, overdoing it would ultimately do more damage than good. Try to find a good balance between being vigilant with your grammar and spell checks and completely rewriting the book out fear that it is not perfect.

12. Read it out loud

Take the time to read your book aloud to yourself. This will allow you to properly scan your work for errors in grammar. Try to get the flow of the dialogue and see which parts you can improve. Take note of the errors as you read them and make the corrections accordingly.

13. Cut out unnecessary words

Try to make your work as concise and direct as possible. Don’t make your sentence composition too flowery. Unnecessary and superfluous words will not do your writing any favors. It is better to write sparingly but clearly than to write extensively but the sentence composition ends up complicated.

14. Make changes on the story structure first

One common mistake that some writers make is that they pay more attention to the sentence composition than the structure of the story. Thus when they find out that there is something wrong with the story structure, they will have to cut out huge chunks of sentences from the first draft. Thus wasting hours of editing work. This is why when you edit your manuscript always start with structure first then the sentence composition. This will save you a lot of time and effort in the end.

15. Take a systematic approach to the editing process

When you edit your work, take it slowly but surely. Although it may seem tedious at first it is important to remember that editing requires you to be meticulous and patient. Because if you hurry the process and there are errors in the final draft you are still the one who will lose readers.

16. Ask for advice from fellow authors

If there is a part of your book that you are discontented with or have trouble with, it is a good idea to ask fellow writers for their advice. Book editing is a very engrossing and work intensive bit of work. If you ask other authors for advice you can have a fresh new outlook on your book.

17. Use an editing app to be more thorough

Although editing apps are never as accurate as a human editor, they are still useful. This will help you to refine your manuscript’s overall tone. One great example is the Hemingway Editor app.

18. Keep a checklist of corrections

It is understood that book editing is very complicated work, which is why having a checklist of past corrections will really come in handy. It does not matter if it is your first or second draft. Always have a checklist so that you can make corrections as soon as possible. Having a checklist also helps you to make sure you don’t make the same mistake twice.

19. Work on your writing style

True, you are writing your book and you are technically way above the level of a beginner. But this should not dissuade you from trying to improve your writing style. On every draft that you make, be it the first or second always try to learn from past mistakes.

20. Trust in your skill as a writer

One of the biggest challenges a writer could ever face is self-doubt. This is a challenge because doubting your skill will slow your growth as a writer. Always remember that you chose to be a writer and any setback can be overcome with hard work and determination.