The best books for writers battling through the artist’s journey

Michael Stephen Fuchs Author Of ARISEN: Raiders, Volume 1 - The Collapse
By Michael Stephen Fuchs

The Books I Picked & Why

The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles

By Steven Pressfield

The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles

Why this book?

This is a holy text, what is – or certainly ought to be – the bible for anyone trying to do anything hard and creative in the world. (Though it wears its bias toward fiction writers on its sleeve.) It breaks down the life-or-death stakes of your battle with Resistance, which is trying to kill the unique gift that you and only you have to offer the world (and the expression of which will fulfill your unique existence on this spinning wet rock). I keep a copy on my bedtable and review my highlighting from it every time I have to throw myself back into the fight. The War is real.


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Keep Going: 10 Ways to Stay Creative in Good Times and Bad

By Austin Kleon

Keep Going: 10 Ways to Stay Creative in Good Times and Bad

Why this book?

This book was seemingly written personally for me, at the exact moment I needed it – and is just about the wisest and most practical thing I've read about How To Keep Doing It, which for a working artist turns out to be by far the hardest thing. How do you find a way to keep doing the work (and, ideally, doing it well) that is also compatible with life, health, happiness, and sanity? As we know, so many writers and artists have tragically failed at this – going down to despair, madness, obsession, isolation and alienation, alcoholism, drug addiction, suicide, or just quietly giving up on the whole project. Outstanding solutions to the problem here. (Sneak preview: accept it never gets easier, you never really arrive, have a daily practice, stay playful, and forgive yourself!)


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Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

By Elizabeth Gilbert

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

Why this book?

This book arguably saved my life. N.B. I would no sooner read Eat, Pray, Love than eat my own face. But this is a deeply and profoundly wise exploration on the Artist’s Journey for a writer – about honoring your talent and craft, supporting it instead of making it support you, and even finding joy and whimsy in what many (including, admittedly, Pressfield) approach as a vicious and violent struggle to the death. (“It's such a gangster move,” Gilbert notes, “because hardly anybody ever dares to speak of creative enjoyment aloud, for fear of not being taken seriously as an artist.”)


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The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials Into Triumph

By Ryan Holiday

The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials Into Triumph

Why this book?

This book is really for anyone trying to do anything hard in life – because life is freaking hard. I actually find this to be the single most useful (and nearly best) nonfiction title in my library (of about 2,500 volumes), and it’s useful for everything – but, given that Holiday mainly makes his living writing bestselling books, once again writers enjoy a particular embarrassment of riches here. Also N.B. – contains the secret of life.


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The Artist's Way

By Julia Cameron

The Artist's Way

Why this book?

Okay, this one was kind of a gimme – how could any such list not include this title? I’ll say that I’m not a habitue of either Morning Pages or Artist Dates (mainstays of her program, and which are absolutely sworn by by very many successful creatives), but, still, this book kind of saved me, too – after my big crash. (When I quit writing. Forever. For six weeks.) Cameron is a mensch, a luminary, and her book is one of the single wisest meditations on what it really means to be a working artist.


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