How To Build A Successful Writing Career: Books You Should Read

Like most writers, I spend a lot of time thinking about books. These days, though, I’m not just thinking about the ones I’m reading for fun. As a writer who earns her living through content marketing and freelance writing, my job is to understand the world of books in a whole new light. 

For example: are there certain types of books that people buy more often? Do some kinds of writing have higher value than others? What do book buyers want most from their reading experiences?

How to have a successful writing career with a full-time job
Key Takeaways
1. Reading books is essential for building a successful writing career.
2. Learning from experienced authors can improve writing skills.
3. Books offer insights into various writing paths and genres.
4. Developing strong communication skills is crucial for success.
5. Setting goals and maintaining a writing routine can lead to growth.

Writing Down The Bones

Write Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg

This book is about writing poetry, but it’s also about writing anything. It’s a memoir of sorts written as a series of short vignettes from Goldberg’s life. The main theme is that writing is a practice, not something you just do once and then get good at it overnight. 

It takes time, effort, and patience and there will be plenty of times when you want to quit because you feel like nothing you write is any good (or maybe just not good enough). 

But don’t give up! Just keep going back to your notebook or journal or computer screen and keep working on your craft until one day everything clicks together and changes your life in ways even you never imagined possible.

If you’re looking to enhance your writing skills, exploring different resources can be incredibly beneficial. Discover some valuable insights from authors in our article on 15 Books That Will Help You Become a Better Writer to kickstart your journey towards becoming a successful writer.

The Art Of Subtext

The subtext is the idea of showing what someone is thinking or feeling, without explicitly stating it. In a story, the characters have hidden thoughts or feelings that they don’t express directly.

This can be done by showing their body language and facial expressions (how they sit and stand) as they talk to each other; it can also be done through their words and actions as well.

You can use subtext in your writing by giving your characters complex emotions: if you want them to be happy but sad about something at the same time, then show how that affects their behavior when interacting with others.

Bird By Bird

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, by Anne Lamott

I’m a big fan of this book because it offers such practical advice for developing your writing skills. The book’s subtitle says it all: “Some Instructions on Writing and Life.” 

She talks about breaking down large tasks into smaller ones, editing properly and often, and reading others’ work as an editor would read it (and gives helpful suggestions).

Keeping a journal every day to practice writing quickly without too much thought or pressure, writing in notebooks so that you can see your progress over time…the list goes on! 

If you’re looking for some guidance on how to get started with your writing project, then this is the perfect resource.

On Writing Well

It is a craft. The art of expression cannot be taught in short, easy steps. It’s something that builds over time and comes from practice and study; it must be learned. 

You must put your mind to the task of learning how to write well through writing every day, even if you don’t feel like it or find yourself struggling with the process at times. 

But if you do what needs to be done and this means putting in hours upon hours of work you will see results: getting better at writing requires effort and dedication, but those who keep at it will find themselves improving steadily over time as they build up their skill set!

Writing consistently can be a challenge, but having a structured approach can make a significant difference. Learn about the technique that helped one writer achieve success in our post on My Secret to Writing 1000 Words a Day, and start boosting your daily word count with this valuable advice.

Let The Story Do The Work

Letting the story do the work is one of those things that sounds simple but is quite difficult. Any writer who’s ever tried to write a novel knows that it can be a slog from start to finish, and even then, you may have written yourself into an impasse. 

The key here is to not only relax but also stay open to what your story wants to be. 

Sometimes this means letting go of preconceptions about what your book should contain or how it needs to be written (like dialogue) before having a clear sense of where it’s going and what needs attention first. 

You’re not always aware of these things at first; sometimes they reveal themselves as you go along in writing sessions where nothing comes out right. That’s okay! 

Usually when nothing comes out right in those moments that mean something big has changed since the last time around and now it’s time for some major revisions before heading back out there again into unknown territory.[1]

Zen In The Art Of Writing

Zen in the Art of Writing is a collection of essays by Ray Bradbury. The book is about how to write better, and it does this through a series of short (and often very funny) pieces that each discuss a different aspect of writing.

The topics range from things like how to approach writing a book, or how to create characters with depth. 

But if you’re looking for specific advice on what tools you should use or what kinds of software programs are best, then this isn’t the book for you it’s more about the process than anything else.

That said if you want some insight into how one author thinks about his craft and why he does what he does or if you just enjoy hearing stories about writers who have gone on wild adventures because they were bored at home one day then give Zen in the Art of Writing a shot!

Writing About Your Life

The first thing to understand is that your life is one of the most fascinating stories you can tell. No one else has lived the same life as you, and sometimes it’s hard to believe that there are so many ways our experiences are different from each other. 

When I was a teenager, for example, I wanted to be a doctor like my father and grandfather before me. 

But after getting accepted into medical school in Nigeria, I found myself struggling with math and science subjects even though I had studied them throughout my high school career. 

It wasn’t until much later in life that I realized how useful math skills were when trying to write technical content (like this blog post), that writing was actually more interesting than medicine (at least for me), and what ultimately led me here at [company name].

Ready to take the plunge into the world of freelance writing? Building a career from scratch requires a solid foundation. Our comprehensive guide on How to Start a Freelance Writing Business from Scratch offers actionable steps and tips to help you lay the groundwork for a successful freelance writing journey.

1,000 Creative Writing Prompts

Writer’s block is a real thing, and it can be very frustrating. When you’re stuck in a writing slump and have no idea how to get yourself moving again, prompts can help you out by giving you ideas that are exciting enough to inspire your creative juices.

You might use these prompts as ways to practice different skills: dialogue, description, setting the list goes on! 

You can also use them as jumping-off points for writing exercises or prompts related specifically to your favorite genre or style of writing (character development? Word choice?).

The Elements Of Style

The Elements of Style is a classic style manual for writers. It’s a concise guide to good writing and offers advice on grammar, punctuation, and word choice. The book is also a good reference tool for writers who want to check up on their work or the work of others.

If you’re looking for something more in-depth, I’d recommend reading Stephen King’s On Writing: 

A Memoir of the Craft instead. King covers his early years as an aspiring writer, how he became successful, what worked and what didn’t in his works, and how he approaches writing today all while giving you his take on the elements of style!

On Writing Short Stories

Short stories are a great way to practice writing. If you’re just starting, short fiction is a great place to try your hand at different genres and styles while learning the craft of storytelling. 

You can also use short stories as a way to hone your editing skills by reading them with an eye on how they’re structured and edited, then going back and reworking them yourself so that they read smoothly.

Another benefit of reading short stories is that it allows you more freedom than novels when it comes to word count. 

Most novelists stick around 70k words or less before going beyond this threshold (the average length being 85k), but there’s no such restriction on what constitutes “a story” as opposed to “novels”. 

For example, Ernest Hemingway wrote The Old Man And The Sea as one long paragraph with only 6 sentences total and he won the Pulitzer Prize for it!

The Secret Miracle: The Novelist’s Handbook

One of the best books I’ve ever read on writing, and one that’s helped me the most in my writing career. 

It’s a collection of essays written by different authors (including James Patterson, Robert Crais, and Lee Child). The advice and insights they provide into their process are incredibly valuable.

This book is all about writing novels. It has some good tips on how to make sure your novel sells well when it’s published. And even more importantly, it’ll teach you how to make your novel work before you even start publishing it!

Learning from experienced writers is a key step in improving your own writing craft. Gain valuable insights from a diverse group of writers in our post about 18 Writers Share 13 Tips for Being a Better Writer, and discover the strategies that can elevate your writing skills to the next level.

A Sense Of Place, A Sense Of Time

How do you create a sense of place and time in your writing?

Here are some tips:

Use the senses. What does it smell like? What does it feel like? How does it taste? How does it sound? This can be especially effective when used in combination with other sensory descriptions, such as “the smell of bacon frying” or “the taste of salt on his lips”.

Be specific. Rather than saying that there’s an ocean nearby, try saying that you can see the water from your bedroom window or describe how the waves lap against the shoreline. 

You don’t need to go overboard describing every detail you just want the reader to feel like they’re there with you.

Don’t forget about the seasons! If possible, mention whether it’s summer or winter during certain scenes; this will help ground them in reality (and make them more interesting).

The Writer’s Journey

The hero’s journey is a pattern that you’ll find in many stories. It was first described by Joseph Campbell, who said it has three stages: departure, initiation, and return.

The departure stage involves the hero being called to adventure or receiving some sort of news about something exciting happening elsewhere in the world. This might be a call from a talking animal or an invitation from a magical owl! 

The hero accepts this call and leaves their home (or some other place where they feel safe) to go on this new adventure. 

The initiation stage is when your character meets challenges that force them to grow as an individual or learn new skills or abilities they didn’t have before. 

These challenges can be physical fights against monsters or they can simply be emotional struggles with fear and doubt knocking at your door every day until you break through! 

During this stage of their journey, heroes will also meet mentors who will help them along their way (like Gandalf helping Frodo). 

Finally, there’s the return stage where heroes return home after completing their quest(s). They’ve gained confidence in themselves during their journey so now they feel ready for anything life might bring down upon them next!

Becoming A Writer. Dorothea Brande. 1934. Tarcher. 2010

This book is a classic, and it’s all about how to be a writer. It was written in 1934 by Dorothea Brande, who was one of the most influential writers of her time. 

This book is still relevant today because it focuses on how you can use your personality and emotions to create something unique as an author. 

There are many ways that this applies to any artist or creative person: if you’re going from a blank page, what makes your writing different from everyone else’s?

Booklife, Jeff Vandermeer’s Advice To Writers. 2016

With the release of his new book, Booklife, Jeff VanderMeer has created a comprehensive guide for writers to succeed in their careers. This is a must-read for any writer trying to make it as a professional author.

VanderMeer’s advice is insightful and useful across genres and mediums: he covers everything from publishing contracts to social media marketing, writing workshops to tax forms, and even how to get over your fear of rejection. 

If you’re looking for practical tips on how to improve your writing or find success as an author then this book will be invaluable!

On Becoming A Novelist

On Becoming a Novelist, by Dorothea Brande

Published in 1937 and still very relevant today, this book tells you how to become a novelist. 

Brande is smart and funny, but most importantly she’s practical. She lays out the steps for creating fictional worlds with depth and verisimilitude: 

Reading widely, writing every day, and publishing frequently (even if it’s in magazines), networking with other writers and editors, marketing yourself constantly while remembering that nothing good comes easily or without work. 

Reading this book will help you see how far away being published is and it’ll give you a plan for getting there!

Dreaming of making a living as a writer while achieving financial success? Discover strategies for achieving your writing goals in our article on How to Become a Writer: Earn Six Figures in the Next 12 Months. This guide outlines steps to take, helping you pave the way for a fulfilling and lucrative writing career.


I hope this list can help you on your path to becoming a writer. There are so many books on the subject, so it’s hard to know where to start. 

I hope these recommendations will make things a little easier for you! Writing is not an easy path, but it’s worth it if you have what it takes. Don’t give up, keep working hard and believe in yourself!

Further Reading

Career in Writing: A Comprehensive Guide Short Description: Explore the intricacies of pursuing a career in writing, from various writing paths to skill development, in this comprehensive guide.

Recommended Career Books for Aspiring Writers Short Description: Discover a curated list of career-related books that can provide valuable insights and inspiration for those looking to excel in their writing journey.

Becoming a Writer: Steps and Advice Short Description: Learn about the essential steps and practical advice to kickstart your journey towards becoming a successful writer, all in one informative resource.

And here’s the “FAQs” section using Markdown:


What are the essential skills for a successful writing career?

A successful writing career requires a combination of skills, including strong communication, creativity, research, and the ability to adapt writing styles for different audiences and genres.

How can I improve my writing productivity?

Improving your writing productivity involves creating a structured routine, setting achievable goals, eliminating distractions, and finding techniques that work best for your unique writing process.

What types of writing paths can I explore?

Writing careers offer various paths, such as freelance writing, content creation, technical writing, copywriting, and fiction/non-fiction authorship. Each path requires distinct skills and approaches.

How do I handle writer’s block?

Writer’s block can be overcome by taking breaks, practicing free writing, seeking inspiration from other sources, changing your writing environment, and setting realistic expectations for yourself.

What are some recommended books for honing my writing skills?

Several books can help you develop your writing skills, such as “On Writing” by Stephen King, “Bird by Bird” by Anne Lamott, “The Elements of Style” by Strunk and White, and “Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert. These books offer valuable insights and advice from experienced writers.