5 Insanely Useful Books That Helped Me in My Writing Career

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I eat people's brains...

I love to crack open their skulls and peek into the inner workings of their mind.

Methophorically, of course.

Reading feeds your brain, fosters creativity, and makes you a better writer.

Today I want to share some of the books that have helped me most in my writing career. Some taught me personal development skills, some taught me how to market my work, and all have taught me something simply through imagining the process the authors went through to create them.

I have dozens of books I've bought and haven't read, because I know how important they are to my career.

If any of these books look helpful, I encourage you to check them out.

Without further ado, here's the list:

"The War of Art" - by Steven Pressfield

If this book doesn't convince you to pursue your creative career--give up. It's the most motivational creative manifesto in the history of writing. The book talks about the Evil Resistance, more commonly known as self-doubt, and gives you the weapons to defeat it.

I remember the day I went to library to read this book. I was feeling a bit stuck and needed some motivation for my writing. After I read the book, I went into a blind range and wrote about 2,500 words in one hour.

Yeah, it's that good.

I'd also check out his other books on creativity and writing, because they're all amazing and will give you the kick in the ass you need in your writing career.

Other books:

Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t: Why That Is and What You Can Do About It

"Steal Like an Artist" - by Austin Kleon

The book itself is beautiful. It's worth buying just to have on your bookshelf. Austin Kleon is a writer/drawer and Steal Like an Artist is a combination of sage pieces of wisdom and interesting artwork.

The premise of the book is the idea that nobody's original. You must steal from other artists and remix their work to create something unique.

This book taught me to study and borrow from masters to create something only I can make. The point isn't to steal from one -- it's to steal from hundreds. Great artists honor those that came before them and stand on their shoulders.

Also consider reading his other book, Show Your Work!, which is about building a loyal tribe of fans for your work by letting them get a glimpse into your process.

"The Obstacle Is the Way" - By Ryan Holiday

This book has nothing and everything to do with writing. It's a modern rendition of the tenets of stoic philosophy. Holiday uses carefully selected stories and anecdotes to describe how some of the world's most successful people found their success through their obstacles, not by trying to avoid them.

The book teaches you to accept your life as it is instead of the way you wish it was. It teaches you to stay level headed when you're under pressure. It teaches you that perspective matters above all else, and that you're always in control of your reaction to circumstances in your life.

The book has helped me when I face setbacks in my writing career. It's also filled with damn good writing and storytelling, which is something I'm learning to improve every day.

The book is also the bi-product of a research technique I learned from holiday, where you use note cards to collect quotes, facts, and anecdotes to use in your writing. I use this technique with every book I read and it's quite helpful. You can read more about it here.

Do you want your next blog post to go viral?

Read Contagious and the author will tell you how. Berger spent years researching the reasons why ideas spread and created a framework for creating things that catch on. The S.T.E.P.P.S. framework for creating contagious content, products, and ideas is as follows:

  • Social Currency - People like looking smart in front of their friends. Create something that helps them do that and they will share it with others.
  • Trigger - People share things that are top of mind and tip of tongue, e.g., the terrible song "Friday" by Rebecca Black seeing a spike in views every Friday.
  • Emotional - Create something that stirs people's emotions and it will spread. They have to be high arousal emotions, e.g., anger, awe, and joy. Think Donald Trump. For better or worse, he's a master at tapping into high arousal emotions, which is why you can't escape hearing his name on a daily basis.
  • Practical - People like helping people. This is why people share "how to," type content.
  • Public - Your content, product, or idea has to be visible for people to share and talk about it.
  • Story - People learn through stories and love hearing them. If you're able to master storytelling you have massive power and an unfair advantage.

I haven't read this book in a while, but now I'm going to re-read it and try follow the framework for everything I create.

As a writer, you can use the S.T.E.P.P.S framework with the blog posts and books you write. If you're a creative trying to marker your work, you can use these techniques to get your ideas to spread.

"Mastery" - by Robert Greene

Greene tells amazing stories. Mastery is about finding your life's task and dedicating the time it requires to master that task.

If you want to learn to become a master writer -- a true craftsman or woman -- read this book.

More than anything I use this book as inspiration for creating amazing work. The book itself is a testament to painstaking care and patience, which is something I need to continue to learn in my writing career.

Learn More Techniques to Make You a Better Writer

My name is Ayo, and I write.

I want to help encourage as many people as I can to pursue writing and improve their craft, including you.

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