6 books to help you become a better a better writer + communicate your message better. // dreams-etc.com

6 Books to Help You Become a Better Writer (+ a Few to Inspire)

Happy Monday! Who else is struggling a bit this morning after Daylight Savings Time? 🙋🏻 Springing ahead is always one of those days that makes me think we should just keep winter around permanently. I mean, it’s not so bad and we can do things to make it survivable, right? 😉 I don’t think I’m the only one who’s still adjusting to our lost hour, so I thought I’d start the week off slow and steady with one of my favorite topics: books. This time it’s writing books. Last month I attended VoxCon, a communications conference in New York, and got to hear some amazing communicators speak. I walked away with quite a few book recommendations, so I thought I’d share them with you. I’ve found that even when you study writing that’s outside of what you typically do, it will still enhance your writing. Studying poetry helped my fiction, and studying creative non-fiction helped my poetry. So even if you’re wondering whether or not a book on storytelling will provide any input for you and your writing, I encourage you to look into it. You never know what you might pick up from it. I shared my notes on writing stories for children from a picture book author with a pastor and realized there were so many gems that could be helpful for sermon writing.

Along with books on writing, there are a few books that should be more inspirational, as well as some books about the Christian faith. I separated this list between books that were recommended at he conference/are actually about writing, and books by people who spoke at the conference that I have an interest in.

If you’re interested, the people with books listed below who also spoke at the conference are: Donald Miller, Mary Karr, Sally Lloyd-Jones, Jonathan Merritt, and David Taylor.

Note – The links used in this post are affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase through one of them I will make a small commission, at no extra cost to you.

6 books to help you become a better a better writer + communicate your message better. // dreams-etc.com

Writing Books

On Writing Well by Henry Zipzer // If you write anything, this will give you the fundamental principles to write well. If you write, I think it’s always helpful to brush up on how to write well.

The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories by Christopher Booker // Booker discusses themes that occur in every type of storytelling and the purpose storytelling plays in our lives. This kind of stuff really speaks to me, and I think it could speak to anyone who writes, even if you’re not necessarily going to sit down and write a novel or a short story.

Save the Cat by Blake Snyder // All about screenwriting. This might appeal more to the novelists/screenwriters, but I think any writer can learn from books about writing. There are always things you can take away.

In Praise of Shadows by Junichiro Tanizaki // An essay on aesthetics. This came up in a discussion about how we shouldn’t hide the darkness in our stories. It’s through the darkness that we find hope. It’s also the first one that went into my cart, after I preordered one of the books listed below.

Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message so Customers Will Listen by Donald Miller // How to use story structure to connect with your audience. His talk was so helpful and I’m excited to read the book.

The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr // Karr shares her process and takes a close look at memoir. It’s compared to other craft books like On Writing by Stephen King (which I still haven’t read) and Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott (chapter four is my lifeline when I start to get too critical of my own writing) so I’m sure it’ll be good!


Other Books by the Speakers

Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller // Miller’s journey coming back to a “culturally relevant, infinitely loving God.” I have heard so many good things about this from the people who have read it. I already have a copy–I had hoped to read it before the conference, but that didn’t happen–so I’m excited to dig in!

Learning to Speak God from Scratch: Why Sacred Words Are Vanishing — And How We Can Revive Them by Jonathan Merritt // There are some sacred words that have started to lose their meaning, or are words that scare people. This is Merritt’s response to that. This book will be released in August. Since I haven’t read it yet, I can’t say for sure, but I think this one might helpful for bloggers who write about Christian topics.

A Faith of Our Own: Following Jesus Beyond the Culture Wars by Jonathan Merritt // Merritt takes a look at a new generation that’s engaging the world with a faith that’s focused on Christ and politics that aren’t polarized. I’ve heard Merritt is a controversial writer. Since this deals with faith and politics, my guess is this book might ruffle some feathers. I’ll have to read it to find out. I already have a copy of it, so I’m excited to read it!

For the Beauty of the Church: Casting a Vision for the Arts by David Taylor // How the church can create a better vision for the use of the arts. This is something I’ve thought about quite a bit, since the church and the arts used to be more closely linked.

Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing by Sally Lloyd-Jones // A picture book that looks at spiritual truths to point people toward a God who loves with a “Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love.” My friend picked this up at the conference and highly recommends it. It sounds like a beautiful book. Also, I read How to Be a Baby… by Me, the Big Sister when I ordered a copy for my friend’s daughter after she had another baby and I loved it.

What writing books do you recommend?


  1. Blushy Darling

    March 12, 2018 at 12:53 pm

    Picking up some of these, always looking for the best tips to become a better writer

  2. Katie Arnold

    March 12, 2018 at 1:23 pm

    I’m definitely going to have to check some of these out. I’m always looking to improve my writing!

  3. shootingstarsmag

    March 12, 2018 at 2:11 pm

    I was gifted Bird by Bird years ago and I still need to read it. I really want to get back into my own personal writing (by that, I mean fictional writing) so maybe I should give that a go finally!


  4. Charlotte

    March 12, 2018 at 2:22 pm

    Thanks so much for sharing, Crystal!! I’ve read the Ann Lamott and Steven King books on writing so will have to pick up the Mary Kerr book, and the Building a Story Brand sounds amazing, too! Glad to hear that was such a fruitful conference you attended in NYC!

  5. Tami

    March 12, 2018 at 2:40 pm

    I just recently read “Building a StoryBrand” and it was great! I also really love “On Writing” by Stephen King. I’ll have to check out the rest of these though! Thank you for sharing this. 🙂

  6. Cristina

    March 12, 2018 at 2:42 pm

    I don’t think I’ve ever read a writing book but I do like to take notes of descriptions or sentences I like when I read novels.


  7. Vanessa K

    March 12, 2018 at 3:09 pm

    “On Writing Well” is an EXCELLENT resource! It was my “textbook” for my nonfiction narrative class I took my Senior Year of College. I still have it and refer to it often <3

  8. Beth_Daily_Dog_Tag

    March 12, 2018 at 3:47 pm

    These sound like great books. I’m not a writer, but I need to improve my writing. I have read parts of Bird by Bird and it is very helpful.

  9. Felicia Renee

    March 12, 2018 at 3:52 pm

    On Writing Well sounds like a great book, I’m definitely adding it to my Goodreads account!

  10. Sara

    March 12, 2018 at 7:38 pm

    I expected to find a book or two that I’d already read on writing but those six were all new to me. I definitely want to check out the shadows book. Thanks for sharing!

  11. Lecy | A Simpler Grace

    March 12, 2018 at 8:05 pm

    Ooh, what great finds! I’ve read a few of these, but many of them I’ve not heard of. Adding them to my list!

  12. Raina Reddecliff

    March 12, 2018 at 10:32 pm

    THanks for sharing these! It never hurts to refresh your writing skills and find some inspiration. I’ll be picking up a few!

  13. Jenn Salsich

    March 13, 2018 at 11:13 am

    This is a lovely collection of reads. I have quite a few here I have never read and should do so based on your thoughts!

  14. Brooke Bolen

    March 13, 2018 at 11:45 am

    This is a great list of books! I will have to try some out.

  15. Emily Michelle Fata

    March 13, 2018 at 12:06 pm

    I love these!! As a writer myself, I can’t wait to start on these books and read them all for myself. 🙂

  16. Brandi Michel

    March 13, 2018 at 12:23 pm

    This is a timeless list of writing resources. On Writing by Stephen King is wonderful and I recently read Blue Like Jazz and loved it!

  17. Carmen Edelson

    March 13, 2018 at 2:46 pm

    So many great suggestions! I’m going to check a lot of these out, thanks for sharing 🙂

  18. Divya @ Eat. Teach. Blog.

    March 13, 2018 at 4:12 pm

    Thanks for these recommendations. I feel like everyone has their own unique writing style, but there is always room for improvement!

  19. Perfecting Truth

    March 13, 2018 at 6:50 pm

    One can never have enough information when it comes to writing improvement. The more you learn the better you get. Thanks for sharing!

  20. Alyssa

    March 13, 2018 at 7:37 pm

    I’ve been looking for good books on writing so this is perfect! I’ll have to try to find these at my library. 🙂 Thanks for this!

  21. Indya S

    March 14, 2018 at 5:01 pm

    I’d definitely be interested in reading about how to write a memoir. I’ve known since I was younger that I would have to tell my story, but I know I could use help on how to tell it, and which parts to tell first!

  22. Amanda Dover

    March 14, 2018 at 7:57 pm

    Great suggestions! I also love bird by bird, by Ann Lamont (sp?)

  23. Bryant Nancy

    March 17, 2018 at 10:28 pm

    Wonderful suggestions! Good to see On Writing Well among the list. I’m always on the look to improve my writing and these are very helpful recommendations! Thank you.


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