This year I’ve been reading books about writing that aren’t really about writing–they are about creativity or passion or marketing. Even though they aren’t directly about writing, they are important books for writers to read.
Here are five books you should be reading that aren’t about writing:
Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon
I had to wait a long time for this to become available at my library. It was well worth the wait! Based on a speech the author gave about creativity, this short, to-the-point book is the kick in the pants many of us need. It won’t take you long to read, but you’ll still be applying the lessons you learn for months.
“You are in fact a mashup of what you choose to let into your life. You are the sum of your influence. The German writer Goethe said, ‘We are shaped and fashioned by what we love.'”
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain
If you are an introvert, you need to read this book (you can also watch Susan’s TED talk). Even though our world seems to praise the extroverts, this book points out how important introverts are. Learn to see your introvert tendencies as strengths and learn how to care for yourself.
“Now that you are an adult, you might still feel a pang of guilt when you decline a dinner invitation in favor of a good book. Or maybe you like to eat alone in resturants and could do without the pitying looks from other diners. Or you’re told that you are ‘in your head too much,’ a phrase that’s often deployed against the quiet and cerebral.
Of course, there’s another word for such people: thinkers.”
Imagine: How Creativity Works by Jonah Lehrer
Creativity is a huge part of the process for writers. This book talks about how to be more creative. Find out what cities have the most creative people and how they even measure that sort of thing. You can also find out what color to paint your office for maximum creative flow.
“Every creative journey begins with a problem. It starts with a feeling of frustration, the dull ache of not being able to find the answer. We have worked hard, but we have hit the wall. We have no idea what to do next.
When we tell one another stories about creativity, we tend to leave out this phase of the creative process. We neglect to mention those days when we wanted to quit, when we believed our problems were impossible to solve. Because such failures contradict the romantic version of events–there is nothing triumphant about a false start–we forget all about them. (The failures also remind us how close we came to having no stories to tell.) Instead, we skip straight to the breakthroughs. We tell the happy endings first.”
The $100 Startup up by Chris Guillebeau
This book is about how easy it is to make money doing what you love. It’s what I’m doing here at Next Step Editing. We live in an amazing time when you can truly create a job for yourself with very little start-up money. You will read inspiring stories from many who are doing exactly what they want to do, being their own bosses and working their own hours.
“[M]any successful follow-your-passion business owners understand an important principle that aspiring (and unsuccessful) business owners don’t. The missing piece is that you don’t usually get paid for your hobby itself; you get paid for helping other people pursue the hobby or for something indirectly related to it. This point is critical. I began my writing career by sharing stories about a quest to visit every country in the world, but I don’t get paid for that. I have to create value in my business the same way anyone else does–without real value, I wouldn’t get paid, and the travel would be just a hobby (albeit a passionate one).”
Tribes by Seth Godin
This book has been around since 2008, but I just read it this year. If you are a writer, especially a blogger, you need to read this book. It helps you focus on the people in your audience, your tribe. Learn how to empower them and they will do your marketing for you. Give of yourself to your tribe and you will all benefit.
“What I’m saying is that one person–okay, what I really mean is you–has everything. Everything you need to build something far bigger than yourself. The people around you realize this, and they are ready to follow if you’re ready to lead.”