Writing is hard, especially for new writers who are struggling to break into the business or sell a novel. All the rejection can be demotivating and leave many wondering why they even started writing in the first place. One of the best gifts you can give a writer is the gift of encouragement and inspiration. We’ve rounded up our favorite books to help inspire, motivate, and encourage the writer in your life. These books are not only practical but will show you care about them and their writing.
1. Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury
Ray Bradbury is one of the most beloved and prolific writers of the past century. He always gave the advice that writing should be an act of love, pulling inspiration from the things you enjoy to create stories that you love writing. This classic book of essays expands on that theme, helping aspiring writers find joy in developing their craft.
This book also features insights into Ray Bradbury’s writing process, with specific essays on how he wrote his classic novels Fahrenheit 451, Dandelion Wine, and The Martian Chronicles. This collection is a must have for any Ray Bradbury fans and a great gift for younger writers and aspiring sci-fi and fantasy writers.
2. Never Say You Can’t Survive by Charlie Jane Anders
When life and the larger world are chaotic, it can be hard to muster creative energy. Charlie Jane Anders collects much of her wisdom as a writer in this book that is part memoir and part creative guide. With a focus on using your voice to find power while powerless, Anders’ words will provide inspiration to aspiring and established authors alike.
3. The Writer’s Block: 786 Ideas to Jump-Start Your Imagination
The sky is blue, grass is green, and writers get writer’s block. What else is new? Every author has experienced this at one point or another (or many points) in their career, and this little block-shaped book is for just those occasions! It features hundreds of prompts that writers can flip to, to jump-start their next story idea, or get them out of a rut. As the publisher notes, “Many of these assignments come straight from the creative writing classes of celebrated novelists like Ethan Canin, Richard Price, Toni Morrison, and Kurt Vonnegut: Joyce Carol Oates explains how she uses running to destroy writer’s block.”
Check out more gifts to destroy writer’s block.
4. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
Stephen King is undeniably both one of the most successful authors of all time, and also one of the most prolific, having penned over 50 full length novels. Luckily, he doesn’t keep his keys to success a secret.
In this memoir, King reflects on how he’s managed to achieve the level of success that he has and shares insight that will inspire any author to put pen to paper and write their very best. He also shares practical advice and lessons he’s learned along the way. In addition to the memoir sections of the book, King also breaks down in-depth his writing and editing processes (including a chapter on his disdain for adverbs). He also recalls his experience getting hit by a car and how it affected him personally and as a writer. This is a must-read for any aspiring writer!
5. Chicken Soup for the Soul: Inspiration for Writers
This book, written by ten different writers together, contains 101 motivational stories from writers, for writers. Each anecdote or true story is short (just a few pages) and can be read in a flash, when the writer in your life needs a pick-me-up.
The advice it contains is meant for writers of all kinds and all different experience levels of writing because nearly all writers experience moments of doubt. The different sections of this book focus on specific struggles that are common for writers, like finding time to write or wrestling with writer’s block. This is a great gift to inspire writers who are early in their career and dealing with rejection from editors and publishers.
6. Quotes to Write By: Daily Inspiration and Guidance for Writers
Quotes to Write By provides a different quote for each day of the year. According to the publisher’s description, it is “The perfect gift for every writer! [It] will help get your creative juices flowing. Be guided and inspired by fellow writers and celebrities from around the globe. Open to today’s date for an inspirational or guiding quote to help get your writing back on schedule. Quotes to Write By is a helpful resource of encouragement for every writer.”
This is the perfect gift for a writer who already owns all of the usual writing inspiration and advice books.
7. Keep Going: 10 Ways to Stay Creative in Good Times and Bad
The latest book from Austin Kleon is the perfect inspiration for authors struggling with their work. Whether it’s writer’s block our outside forces that are sabotaging their productivity, Kleon’s tips are filled with advice to help writers and artists disconnect from the world and reconnect with their creative side.
Timeless, this practical guide is perfect for creators of every type.
8. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life
This classic book from writer Anne Lamott is titled after some advice her father once gave her brother when he was paralized by fear at writing a paper about birds. Bird by Bird is not a craft book, instead it focuses on fostering a creative mindset, being introspective, and dealing with common challenges.
The book does include a few writing exercises appropriate for authors of any experience level. Highly recommended for beginner writers still figuring out their process.