The best (and most unlikely) books to help you through creative blocks

Who am I?

Ask successful authors how they started writing, and many will tell you that they always wanted to write. Not me! In fact, through most of my first 35 years, I resisted engaging with anything even remotely creative. I wouldn’t have called it “writer’s block” back then because, having no conscious desire to be a writer, how I could I be blocked? Yet writer’s block is what it was. That I was ultimately able to recognize it as such and get past it has given me a unique perspective on others’ writing challenges, as well as the skill and compassion to help them free up their innate creative potential.


I wrote...

Writer's Block Unblocked: Seven Surefire Ways to Free Up Your Writing and Creative Flow

By Mark David Gerson,

Book cover of Writer's Block Unblocked: Seven Surefire Ways to Free Up Your Writing and Creative Flow

What is my book about?

You don’t have to experience writer’s block. Ever. You don’t have to sweat over the blank page. You don’t have to chew your pencil (or fingernails) to the nub. You don’t have to wonder where your next word is coming from. With Writer’s Block Unblocked, you’ll never feel stuck again.

Learn how to free your words onto the page more easily than you ever imagined possible! Experience the secret to effortless creative flow that no other book talks about! Banish all stuckness and hesitation! It doesn't matter what you write or how long you've been writing: Writer's Block Unblocked will get you started and keep you going—from first word to final draft. 

The books I picked & why

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Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within

By Natalie Goldberg,

Book cover of Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within

Why this book?

Of the many books I read in the early days of my creative and spiritual awakening, Writing Down the Bones is the one that probably had the most profound impact on me—as both a writer and, ultimately, a teacher of writing. Goldberg’s Buddhist-inspired approach to creativity helped me break me through a decades-long writer’s block to access a creative potential I had long denied. Every one of my books, including my books for writers, owes Natalie Goldberg a huge debt of gratitude. 


On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

By Stephen King,

Book cover of On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

Why this book?

When one of the world’s top-selling authors writes a book that validates many of your most deeply held views on writing and creativity, it’s hard not to recommend it! For example, when so many writers and writing instructors tout planning, plotting, and outlining as essential to creative success, it’s refreshing to come upon a brilliantly successful writer who confesses that he rarely does any of those things. Rather, he frees his stories to take charge of the process; to me, that’s the best way to conquer any writer’s block! Here’s one of my favorite quotes from the book: “I won’t try to convince you that I’ve never plotted any more than I’d try to convince you that I’ve never told a lie, but I do both as infrequently as possible.”  


Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art

By Madeleine L'Engle,

Book cover of Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art

Why this book?

I was in my mid-thirties in the midst of a spiritual and creative awakening when I discovered Madeleine L’Engle’s classic young adult fantasy, A Wrinkle in Time, and from that moment I was hooked on her writings—nonfiction as well as fiction. I suppose I could have chosen any of L’Engle’s books to recommend here, as I have read and been inspired by all of them. Yet Walking on Water seemed most appropriate because it addresses the connection between spirituality and creativity more directly than any of her other books, and it was that connection that helped unblock my longstanding creative blocks. 


Steering the Craft: Exercises and Discussions on Story Writing for the Lone Navigator or the Mutinous Crew

By Ursula K. Le Guin,

Book cover of Steering the Craft: Exercises and Discussions on Story Writing for the Lone Navigator or the Mutinous Crew

Why this book?

As with Madeleine L’Engle, everything I’ve read by Ursula K. Le Guin—fiction as well as nonfiction—has radically influenced my writing and my teaching of writing. In fact, her impact on my creative awakening was so profound that I sent her a copy of my first book as a thank you! Steering the Craft is filled with wisdom and exercises for both new and seasoned writers, but perhaps the most liberating for blocked writers is her controversial view that “story” is defined by “change” not “conflict.” That’s especially welcoming for writers who feel hemmed in (and, perhaps, blocked) by the traditional definition.


Letters to a Young Poet

By Rainer Maria Rilke, MD Herter Norton,

Book cover of Letters to a Young Poet

Why this book?

There’s nothing in Letters to a Young Poet about craft, writer’s block, or any of the recognizable challenges faced by twenty-first-century writers. Yet this slender volume published more than a century ago speaks to writers everywhere and in every era, who so often work in isolation and, if they are to be true to their art and authentic within themselves, must rip open their souls and spill the contents onto the page without regard for others’ judgment and criticism. In fact, it speaks to anyone, non-writer as well as writer, whose sensitivity and feelings of not belonging make it sometimes feel impossible to express themselves out in the world. In the end, isn’t that what writer’s block is all about. It certainly was for me!


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in writer's block, letters, and creative writing?

5,887 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about writer's block, letters, and creative writing.

Writer's Block Explore 18 books about writer's block
Letters Explore 19 books about letters
Creative Writing Explore 28 books about creative writing

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

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