The best books to get you writing

G. Elizabeth Kretchmer Author Of Writing Through the Muck: Finding Self and Story for Personal Growth, Healing, and Transcendence
By G. Elizabeth Kretchmer

Who am I?

As a published author with an MFA in Writing, I know how hard writing can be in terms of how to find a muse, employ an elusive craft, and deal with the soul-shaking consequences of digging deep. But as a survivor of life, including multiple moves, broken relationships, alcoholism, illness, and debilitating grief, I've also experienced the transformative power of writing. I took that belief into the community, and developed writing workshops for cancer survivors, women facing domestic violence, and many other people wrestling with trauma and illness, often recommending some of these books in my workshops. And along the way, I’ve witnessed time and again what the written word can do. 

I wrote...

Writing Through the Muck: Finding Self and Story for Personal Growth, Healing, and Transcendence

By G. Elizabeth Kretchmer,

Book cover of Writing Through the Muck: Finding Self and Story for Personal Growth, Healing, and Transcendence

What is my book about?

Life can be hard. When we get knocked off our feet and into the muck, writing can sometimes offer the leverage we need to climb out. Inspired by dozens of writing workshops for cancer patients, domestic violence survivors, and others seeking inner truth, Writing Through the Muck offers thoughtful insight and encouragement for anyone who wants to discover holistic wellness through the written word.

You’ll find: surprising evidence that shows why writing is good for you; easy-to-use tools and techniques to awaken thoughts and memories; dozens of poems and quotes to enlighten and motivate; fresh, new ways to look at yourself and your stories; and more than fifty creative writing prompts that will get you going on your journey to growth and healing today.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Writing the Natural Way: Turn the Task of Writing Into the Joy of Writing

Why did I love this book?

Writing professor Gabriele Rico knows how to take the fear out of writing, which is why this book became such a powerful best-seller and why I love to read and recommend it. Among the many strategies and techniques she offers in Writing the Natural Way, one of my favorites is her brainstorming strategy called clustering, which gives us permission to wander and bypass the critical censorship we are often hindered by. In turn, this fuels creativity and prompts us to make associations among ideas, memories, and feelings that are otherwise seemingly diverse or disorganized. She also firmly believes that, although writing can be a painful process, it’s not what hurts us that matters but rather it’s how we deal with the pain, and it’s through an honest expression of our truth that we can grow and heal.

By Gabriele Lusser Rico,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Writing the Natural Way as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Shows all writers how effective writing can be as natural as telling a story to a friend, and as easy as daydreaming.

The Artist's Way

By Julia Cameron,

Book cover of The Artist's Way

Why did I love this book?

Not unlike Rico, this author’s goal is to unleash creativity, which is way harder than it sounds. Like me, she believes that creativity leads toward spiritual wellness, and The Artist’s Way strives to help us grow by battling our inner enemies, reclaiming our sense of identity, experimenting with possibility, and having faith in our imaginations. Julia Cameron is sometimes known as the mother of morning pages and, likening this writing practice to prayer, she promises it can “acquaint us with what we think and what we think we need.”

By Julia Cameron,

Why should I read it?

12 authors picked The Artist's Way as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"With its gentle affirmations, inspirational quotes, fill-in-the-blank lists and tasks — write yourself a thank-you letter, describe yourself at 80, for example — The Artist’s Way proposes an egalitarian view of creativity: Everyone’s got it."—The New York Times 
"Morning Pages have become a household name, a shorthand for unlocking your creative potential"—Vogue

Over four million copies sold!

Since its first publication, The Artist's Way phenomena has inspired the genius of Elizabeth Gilbert and millions of readers to embark on a creative journey and find a deeper connection to process and purpose. Julia Cameron's novel approach guides readers in uncovering problems…

Book cover of Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

Why did I love this book?

No writer, whether aiming for publication or personal reflection, should be without this classic (and classically entertaining) guide that is guaranteed to inspire the writer to put her butt in the chair and to accept the truth that all first drafts are shitty. Honestly, Bird by Bird is one of the first ones that made me believe I could write. Anne Lamott also helped me learn to not take it all so seriously with her notion that we humans “are a species that needs and wants to understand who we are,” in contrast to sheep lice, who she says “do not seem to share this longing, which is one reason they write so very little.”

By Anne Lamott,

Why should I read it?

12 authors picked Bird by Bird as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • An essential volume for generations of writers young and old. The twenty-fifth anniversary edition of this modern classic will continue to spark creative minds for years to come. Anne Lamott is "a warm, generous, and hilarious guide through the writer’s world and its treacherous swamps" (Los Angeles Times). 

“Superb writing advice…. Hilarious, helpful, and provocative.” —The New York Times Book Review

For a quarter century, more than a million readers—scribes and scribblers of all ages and abilities—have been inspired by Anne Lamott’s hilarious, big-hearted, homespun advice. Advice that begins with the simple words of wisdom…

Book cover of If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit

Why did I love this book?

Writers often struggle to think of themselves as “writers” because the world has us believing that we can only carry that title if we are successfully published, and of course words such as “success” and even “published” can be fraught with subjective controversy. One of the lessons I learned from Brenda Ueland, among other great thinkers, is that we need to focus first on our own authenticity and only much, much later dare we think about what the world might have to say. This allowed me to let go and move on and trust myself on my writing path. It wasn’t easy, but as emphasized in If You Want to Write, we will be all right if we believe in our inner richness.  

By Brenda Ueland,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked If You Want to Write as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Brenda Ueland was a journalist, editor, freelance writer, and teacher of writing. In If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit she shares her philosophies on writing and life in general. Ueland firmly believed that anyone can write, that everyone is talented, original, and has something important to say. In this book she explains how find that spark that will make you a great writer. Carl Sandburg called this book the best book ever written about how to write. Join the millions of others who've found inspiration and unlocked their own talent.

Book cover of Finding What You Didn't Lose: Expressing Your Truth and Creativity Through Poem-Making

Why did I love this book?

This is one of those gems that can easily get lost in the literary shuffle. Poet-teacher John Fox gets into the craft of writing poetry in Finding What You Didn’t Lose, but it’s not one of those dry books that will get you all tangled up worrying about your iambic pentameters. Instead, he takes you on a beautiful journey, showing how such useful tools as imagery, sound, metaphor, and rhythm can help you express yourself. Quotes and poetry excerpts round out the rich content of this book.

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