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

Michael Stephen Fuchs Author Of The Collapse
By Michael Stephen Fuchs

Who am I?

I’ve been writing for 25 years, making a living at it for 10, and have ground out 29 books and counting – battling pretty much every step of the way. I not long ago completed work on a 6-year, 16-book, 1.6-million-word project – by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done… or ever will do. (I know because it nearly killed me, and I both can’t and won’t do anything like it again.) Reasonable people can disagree about life, but I’m pretty sure the Artist’s Journey is a battle, and not an idyll. YMMV.

I wrote...

The Collapse

By Michael Stephen Fuchs,

Book cover of The Collapse

What is my book about?

Two teams of pipe-hitting special-operations Marines, left to die in the fall of North America. One nuclear supercarrier strike group, humanity's last best hope for survival. And seven billion ravening dead guys, rampaging across an overrun planet.

Climb aboard the USS John F. Kennedy, the most complex and deadly warship ever built by man, along with its Marine Raider guardians, to experience two years of horrors and glories of the Zulu Alpha across the world's fallen ports and coasts. Now, after the epic 14-book ARISEN main series, the story before the story can finally be told…

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The books I picked & why

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

Why did I love 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.

By Steven Pressfield,

Why should I read it?

19 authors picked The War of Art as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A succinct, engaging, and practical guide forsucceeding in any creative sphere, The War ofArt is nothing less than Sun-Tzu for the soul.

What keeps so many of us from doing what we long to do?

Why is there a naysayer within? How can we avoid theroadblocks of any creative endeavor—be it starting up a dreambusiness venture, writing a novel, or painting a masterpiece?

Bestselling novelist Steven Pressfield identifies the enemy thatevery one of us must face, outlines a battle plan to conquer thisinternal foe, then pinpoints just how to achieve the greatest success.

The War of Art emphasizes the resolve…

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

Why did I love 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!)

By Austin Kleon,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Keep Going as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The world is crazy. Creative work is hard. And nothing is getting any easier!

In his previous books - Steal Like an Artistand Show Your Work!, New York Times bestsellers with over a million copies in print combined - Austin Kleon gave readers the key to unlock their creativity and then showed them how to share it. Now he completes his trilogy with his most inspiring work yet.

Keep Going gives the reader life-changing, illustrated advice and encouragement on how to stay creative, focused, and true to yourself in the face of personal burnout or external distractions. Here is how…

Book cover of Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

Why did I love 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.”)

By Elizabeth Gilbert,

Why should I read it?

16 authors picked Big Magic as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Readers of all ages and walks of life have drawn inspiration from Elizabeth Gilbert's books for years. Now, this beloved author shares her wisdom and unique understanding of creativity, shattering the perceptions of mystery and suffering that surround the process - and showing us all just how easy it can be. By sharing stories from her own life, as well as those from her friends and the people that have inspired her, Elizabeth Gilbert challenges us to embrace our curiosity, tackle what we most love and face down what we most fear. Whether you long to write a book, create…

The Obstacle Is the Way

By Ryan Holiday,

Book cover of The Obstacle Is the Way

Why did I love 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.

By Ryan Holiday,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Obstacle Is the Way as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

We give up too easily. With a simple change of attitude, what seem like insurmountable obstacles become once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. Ryan Holiday, who dropped out of college at nineteen to serve as an apprentice to bestselling 'modern Machiavelli' Robert Greene and is now a media consultant for billion-dollar brands, draws on the philosophy of the Stoics to guide you in every situation, showing that what blocks our path actually opens one that is new and better.

If the competition threatens you, it's time to be fearless, to display your courage. An impossible deadline becomes a chance to show how dedicated you…

The Artist's Way

By Julia Cameron,

Book cover of The Artist's Way

Why did I love 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.

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…

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