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Three Essential Resources for the Growing Writer

Three Essential Resources for the Growing Writer

career inspiration mindset Mar 10, 2024

Whether you’re a beginner, tentative about dipping into writing, or an experienced writer, looking to learn and grow your repertoire, you can always benefit from reading some of the thousands of writing books, blogs, and forums available. 

While many academics may say you can only learn how to be a legitimate writer by enrolling in university, I’ve always been a do-it-yourself kind of girl. And even though I got a degree in creative writing, (spoiler alert) much of what I learned was from outside reading.



Let me be real for a second, and please withhold your judgment. When it comes to my selection process regarding writing books, I don’t want a list of collected essays about the human condition, musings on the author’s personal philosophy, or an autobiography disguised as an instructional book.



There’s a time for that, sure, but I am always searching for books that contain direct advice and real techniques that will improve my understanding of what makes good writing work. The way I see it, writing is a skill like any other. It can be taught, and it can be learned. Here’s how I did it.


The Elements of Style by Strunk and White


If you have a short attention span or don’t want to wade through tomes and textbooks to pick out what advice you can find, then this one’s perfect for you. That’s why I put it first. In case you didn’t read the rest of the blog. 



This book was my first writing teacher, and I recommend it to any novice writers I work with. At first sight, The Elements of Style looks too small to contain so many brilliant insights into effective writing

Originally written over a century ago, it may seem out of date compared to other books, but the majority of the advice in there has stood the test of time, even as language and storytelling have evolved. 

This book is great for nonfiction and fiction writers. It’s divided into five main sections, and a few of the sections focus on minute details that may seem pedantic at first. The seemingly small rules that encourage precise and concise language have become basic tenets in writing, especially as attention spans have dwindled over the last century. More importantly, it’ll help you make more informed decisions about your writing.

ALSO: Kill the Impostor

If you want to condense this short read even more, focus on Part II - Elementary Principles of Composition and Part V - An Approach to Style. These two chapters alone will give you a solid base as a writer. 

The rest of the book deals with grammar and usage issues which would be more helpful for editors and writers who want to improve their technical ability.

In On Writing by Stephen King, another oft-recommended book by writers, the author states, 

“There is little or no detectable bullshit in that book. (Of course, it's short; at eighty-five pages it's much shorter than this one.) I'll tell you right now that every aspiring writer should read The Elements of Style.”


Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg


At the other end of the spectrum from The Elements of Style is Writing Down the Bones, which takes a different approach to teaching writers. This one isn’t all about putting carefully chosen words in the best place, but rather it focuses on advice that will help nurture the part of you that wants to write.

I found a lot of advice in this book similar to The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron which is touted as being the best book to cure writer’s block, but crucially, it doesn’t look at writing as a religious or spiritual issue, but rather as a skill like any other. (On the other hand, if you, unlike me, see your writing and inspiration as something that comes from beyond you, maybe give Cameron’s book a chance.)

ALSO: Breaking Down Writer's Block

This book is great for new writers or writers coming back after a long break. A big reason I love this is that I’ve struggled for years to find any writing partners or any groups in my area. It’s the perfect substitute for a writing group because, while reading, you will feel like you’re sitting with an experienced writing partner who’s imparting their polished pearls of wisdom. 

I would venture to say that a majority of the advice in this book is more related to cultivating your mindset and the innate desire to write that all of us have. Some of the topics Cameron covers are creative discovery, writing without guilt “even if it’s shit”, practice over quality, and separating the self from the art. 

At certain parts, it feels like a truth bomb from a therapist as she bares the insecurities and issues we all struggle with while still managing to be shockingly funny at times.

ALSO: Mastering the Writer's Exercise: Word Vomit Techniques


Emma Darwin's This Itch of Writing


Emma Darwin, best-selling author known for her historical fiction and creative non-fiction, has distilled every bit of knowledge she has into This Itch of Writing, and each post on there is better than the last. I learned more from this one blog than I have anywhere else. 

And the best thing about it is that it might just put it above the others on this list? It's free and available online. I am honestly befuddled, bemused, and bewildered (but eternally grateful) that something so valuable is so conveniently accessible. 

This Itch of Writing is much more than a blog; it is on par with any academic writing course out there. She covers almost every topic you can think of from beginner-friendly to more advanced nuances. Darwin also has an instructional book, Writing Historical Fiction, for any who might want more genre-specific tips and tricks.

This blog is great for the practicing writer who's struggling to take their prose to the next level. Darwin schooled me on many crucial aspects of writing, including filtering, psychic distance, and narrative drive. It seemed like every time I opened one of her blog posts and read through it, I would have an epiphany. 

Even though some of the concepts covered may seem more intermediate than beginner, Darwin has covered such a wide variety of topics that you’re sure to find an answer to any writing question that you can think of. 

If you think I’m overselling it, go ahead and read through it. Judge for yourself.




These three resources are a great place to start your journey to becoming a better writer. They’re short and easy reads that could be covered in one weekend but don’t underestimate their value.


Ariadne Aaronson
Written for The Plottery

Ariadne Aaronson is a professional editor and lover of urban fantasy. After getting her degree in creative writing, she began working as an editor with independent publishers and mentoring novice writers. When she’s conveniently avoiding her work schedule, she might be playing with cats, baking, or painting.



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