10 books like Writing Down the Bones

By Natalie Goldberg,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Writing Down the Bones. Shepherd is a community of 8,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Bird by Bird

By Anne Lamott,

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

Landis Wade Author Of The Write Quotes: The Writing Life

From the list on the writing life.

Who am I?

I am a recovering trial lawyer (after 35 years of law practice) who took up fiction writing in my late 50s and became so interested in learning what it’s like to be a writer – and how to write better – that I began a podcast designed to encourage authors to open up about their writing lives. After more than 500+ author interviews, I remain fascinated by the many different ways that writers approach their craft and how they turn their “what-ifs” into interesting stories. The writing books that I am recommending are books I used to guide me in my interviews. I hope they will provide insight and inspiration in your writing journey.  

Landis' book list on the writing life

Discover why each book is one of Landis' favorite books.

Why did Landis love this book?

I and many other writers think of this book based on the title alone.

There is more to the book that the title, of course, but it is the clue to the meat of the book, which is, and I am paraphrasing: writing is hard to do, so take it one step at a time, sentence by sentence, word by word, bird by bird.

Lamott’s practical writing advice is filled with stories about writing. She is witty and funny and above all, practical. Because writing is difficult, she shines the light on that elephant in the writing room.

Part memoir and part writing advice, it’s nice to read a book that shows that someone who became such a talented writer can remain humble about what it takes to make it happen.    

Bird by Bird

By Anne Lamott,

Why should I read it?

10 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…


Big Magic

By Elizabeth Gilbert,

Book cover of Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

Adrienne Hand Author Of Make Way For Women: Men and Women Leading Together Improve Culture and Profits

From the list on women’s confidence and accelerate their advancement.

Who am I?

I have always been fascinated by women’s power in the workplace. My mother was intensely focused on breaking ground as a working mother of four small children on Capitol Hill in the 1960s. She was the first woman to be granted part-time status in Senator Ted Kennedy’s office. She worked her way up to speechwriter for Joan and personal correspondent for the Senator. And she kept a fierce border between work and home. And we were intensely proud of her. At a time when our friends’ mothers were mostly homemakers, our Mom had a cool job and kept a cool head among the political and intellectual elite – most of whom were men.

Adrienne's book list on women’s confidence and accelerate their advancement

Discover why each book is one of Adrienne's favorite books.

Why did Adrienne love this book?

Elizabeth Gilbert is a generous soul. Instead of basking in her deserved success as author of Eat, Pray, Love, she is sharing her battle stories, her crises of confidence, and her inspiration. She has thought of almost every way that authors defeat ourselves and has sourced ancient philosophers and contemporary artists and writers to cheer us up and get us back to the page. 

Big Magic

By Elizabeth Gilbert,

Why should I read it?

15 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…


Art Matters

By Chris Riddell, Neil Gaiman,

Book cover of Art Matters: Because Your Imagination Can Change the World

Dinty W. Moore Author Of The Mindful Writer

From the list on for inspiring beginning writers.

Who am I?

Dinty W. Moore is the author of the writing guides The Story Cure, Crafting the Personal Essay, and The Mindful Writer, among many other books. He has published essays and stories in Harper’s, The New York Times Magazine, The Southern Review, Creative Nonfiction, and elsewhere, and has taught master classes and workshops across the United States as well as in Ireland, Scotland, Spain, Switzerland, Canada, and Mexico.

Dinty's book list on for inspiring beginning writers

Discover why each book is one of Dinty's favorite books.

Why did Dinty love this book?

Gaiman is always wonderfully positive on the subjects of experimentation, failure, and persistence, and with advice such as “The world always seems brighter when you’ve just made something that wasn’t there before.” This inspiring book is made even better by the accompanying four-color artwork from his longtime illustrator, Chris Riddell.

Art Matters

By Chris Riddell, Neil Gaiman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Art Matters as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Seize the day in the name of art. This creative call to arms from the mind of Neil Gaiman combines his extraordinary words with deft and striking illustrations by Chris Riddell.

'Like a bedtime story for the rest of your life, this is a book to live by. At its core, it's about freeing ideas, shedding fear of failure, and learning that "things can be different" ' INSTITUTE OF IMAGINATION

Be bold. Be rebellious. Choose art. It matters.

Neil Gaiman once said that 'the world always seems brighter when you've just made something that wasn't there before'. This little book…


Letters to a Young Poet

By Rainer Maria Rilke, MD Herter Norton,

Book cover of Letters to a Young Poet

Mark David Gerson Author Of Writer's Block Unblocked: Seven Surefire Ways to Free Up Your Writing and Creative Flow

From the list on 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.

Mark's book list on unlikely books to help you through creative blocks

Discover why each book is one of Mark's favorite books.

Why did Mark love 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!

Letters to a Young Poet

By Rainer Maria Rilke, MD Herter Norton,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Letters to a Young Poet as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Born in 1875, the great German lyric poet Rainer Maria Rilke published his first collection of poems in 1898 and went on to become renowned for his delicate depiction of the workings of the human heart. Drawn by some sympathetic note in his poems, young people often wrote to Rilke with their problems and hopes. From 1903 to 1908 Rilke wrote a series of remarkable responses to a young, would-be poet on poetry and on surviving as a sensitive observer in a harsh world. Those letters, still a fresh source of inspiration and insight, are accompanied here by a chronicle…


On Writing

By Stephen King,

Book cover of On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

Landis Wade Author Of The Write Quotes: The Writing Life

From the list on the writing life.

Who am I?

I am a recovering trial lawyer (after 35 years of law practice) who took up fiction writing in my late 50s and became so interested in learning what it’s like to be a writer – and how to write better – that I began a podcast designed to encourage authors to open up about their writing lives. After more than 500+ author interviews, I remain fascinated by the many different ways that writers approach their craft and how they turn their “what-ifs” into interesting stories. The writing books that I am recommending are books I used to guide me in my interviews. I hope they will provide insight and inspiration in your writing journey.  

Landis' book list on the writing life

Discover why each book is one of Landis' favorite books.

Why did Landis love this book?

Every time someone asks me to recommend a book on writing, this is the first book that comes to mind.

It is a two-part wonder, one part memoir and one part master class on writing. Your first treat is the tale of this expert storyteller’s path to being a writer. And then come the tips. One of my favorite tips involves killing all your adverbs, words he likens to weeds.

Whether you’re a fan of Stephen King’s stories or not, this is the book for you if you want to experience what it feels like to be a writer and you want to learn how to write well. 

On Writing

By Stephen King,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Twentieth Anniversary Edition with Contributions from Joe Hill and Owen King

ONE OF TIME MAGAZINE’S TOP 100 NONFICTION BOOKS OF ALL TIME

Immensely helpful and illuminating to any aspiring writer, this special edition of Stephen King’s critically lauded, million-copy bestseller shares the experiences, habits, and convictions that have shaped him and his work.

“Long live the King” hailed Entertainment Weekly upon publication of Stephen King’s On Writing. Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer’s craft, comprising the basic tools of the…


The Artist's Way

By Julia Cameron,

Book cover of The Artist's Way

Christina Wallace Author Of The Portfolio Life: How to Future-Proof Your Career, Avoid Burnout, and Build a Life Bigger Than Your Business Card

From the list on helping you get unstuck in your career…and life.

Who am I?

I’m a human Venn diagram who has built a career at the intersection of business, technology, and the arts. A classically-trained musician and theater director, I pivoted from the arts into the world of entrepreneurship and technology after earning my MBA from Harvard and worked as a serial entrepreneur. I’m now on the faculty of Harvard Business School where I'm the course head for the first-year MBA entrepreneurship course, oversee HBS Startup Bootcamp, and coach and mentor students as they figure out what brings them joy. An author and frequent public speaker, my latest book offers a new model for work and life that upends the notion they should have ever been at odds.

Christina's book list on helping you get unstuck in your career…and life

Discover why each book is one of Christina's favorite books.

Why did Christina love this book?

I know this probably wasn’t what you were expecting on a list about careers and life but stay with me here: The Artist’s Way is basically the bible for (re)sparking your creativity.

Whether you are a professional creative (musician, writer, graphic designer, etc.) or you insist you “aren’t the creative type” there’s something for you in this book. If nothing else, read the part on “morning pages” for a daily ritual to get your ideas flowing.

I cannot tell you what a difference you’ll see once you have a way to get your fears, your dreams, your ideas, your frustrations, your plans, and so much more out of your head and onto paper where you can decide what to do with them. 

The Artist's Way

By Julia Cameron,

Why should I read it?

11 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…


Walking on Water

By Madeleine L'Engle,

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

Mark David Gerson Author Of Writer's Block Unblocked: Seven Surefire Ways to Free Up Your Writing and Creative Flow

From the list on 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.

Mark's book list on unlikely books to help you through creative blocks

Discover why each book is one of Mark's favorite books.

Why did Mark love 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. 

Walking on Water

By Madeleine L'Engle,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Walking on Water as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this classic book,Madeleine L'Engle addresses the questions, What does it mean to be a Christian artist? and What is the relationship between faith and art? Through L'Engle's beautiful and insightful essay, readers will find themselves called to what the author views as the prime tasks of an artist: to listen, to remain aware, and to respond to creation through one's own art.


Steering the Craft

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

Mark David Gerson Author Of Writer's Block Unblocked: Seven Surefire Ways to Free Up Your Writing and Creative Flow

From the list on 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.

Mark's book list on unlikely books to help you through creative blocks

Discover why each book is one of Mark's favorite books.

Why did Mark love 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.

Steering the Craft

By Ursula K. Le Guin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Ursula K. Le Guin generously shares the accumulated wisdom of a lifetime's work.


A Course in Miracles

By Dr. Helen Schucman,

Book cover of A Course in Miracles: Combined Volume

Tama J. Kieves Author Of This Time I Dance! Creating the Work You Love

From the list on to help you stay true to yourself and your calling.

Who am I?

I am moved by the deepest potential in all of us. Having graduated from Harvard Law School and working as an unfilled attorney, I finally left everything to follow my true desire to write. So, I know how vital it is to have support for our inspiration instead of our fears. That’s why I’ve written 5 books to champion visionary minds, creative souls, freedom junkies, and more. And as a TEDx speaker and USA Today featured visionary career coach, I am always reading for my own growth and for my students. I recommend these books because they helped me to trust in greater possibilities. I hope they support your dreams. 

Tama's book list on to help you stay true to yourself and your calling

Discover why each book is one of Tama's favorite books.

Why did Tama love this book?

I recommend this book because this spiritual text helped me—more than any other—to see and choose from love instead of fear in my own life. When I left my prestigious law job, I had a storm of fears weaken my creative dreams. This book helped me to find and trust my own inner authority. It also helped me to feel more secure in life, no matter what was going on. At first, I found the language off-putting because it “sounded” religious at times. But this path is not about any religion, other than the love and infinite power in all of us. There are gazillions of spiritual books on the market, but this one is a powerhouse, a classic, and a gamechanger.    

A Course in Miracles

By Dr. Helen Schucman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Course in Miracles as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is the edition of "A Course in Miracles" ("the Course") that its two scribes, Drs. Helen Schucman and Bill Thetford, authorized for publication by the Foundation for Inner Peace in 1975. It is now available in translation in 27 languages and is widely used by students in thousands of Course study groups around the world.
"A Course in Miracles" is a unique spiritual self-study program—a course in mind-training—designed to undo the illusion that you are separate in any way from God or your fellow humans. At the level of the mind we are all united as one. When we…


Book cover of Making a Living Without a Job: Winning Ways for Creating Work That You Love

Tama J. Kieves Author Of This Time I Dance! Creating the Work You Love

From the list on to help you stay true to yourself and your calling.

Who am I?

I am moved by the deepest potential in all of us. Having graduated from Harvard Law School and working as an unfilled attorney, I finally left everything to follow my true desire to write. So, I know how vital it is to have support for our inspiration instead of our fears. That’s why I’ve written 5 books to champion visionary minds, creative souls, freedom junkies, and more. And as a TEDx speaker and USA Today featured visionary career coach, I am always reading for my own growth and for my students. I recommend these books because they helped me to trust in greater possibilities. I hope they support your dreams. 

Tama's book list on to help you stay true to yourself and your calling

Discover why each book is one of Tama's favorite books.

Why did Tama love this book?

I recommend this book because it’s a crayon box of creative and practical ideas and insights. This is a great read for someone who wants to be entrepreneurial, l but isn’t yet in the I-have-to-dominate-the-market-and-own-Silicon-Valley- stage. I guess I’d call it approachable entrepreneurship. The author gives you ideas for how to be “joyfully jobless” including multiple profit centers and marketing on a shoestring. I love authors who can give you creative hope, no-nonsense ideas, and specific creative ideas like “find all the ways to put raspberry and chocolate together.”    

Making a Living Without a Job

By Barbara Winter,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Making a Living Without a Job as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For all of the millions of Americans who are out of work, soon to be out of work, or wishing to be freed from unrewarding work—here is the must-have book that will show you how you can make a living by working when, where, and how you want.

Newly revised and updated, Barbara J. Winter’s guide to successful self-employment is now more relevant than ever before. Drawing on the techniques and ideas of her popular seminars as well as her own thirty years of business expertise and that of other successful entrepreneurs, Winter offers the practical, proven way to launch…


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