For the longest time, reading felt burdensome to me because it was almost always connected to grades and academia. Writing on the other hand, has always been an enjoyable pastime and creative outlet for me. But as I continued to grow, I knew I had to read more, so my writing skills could grow too.
Whether you’re a journalist, novelist, playwright, screenwriter, anyone who has a way with words, you must invest in your well of inspiration. After taking this dive back into everything from self-help to written adventures, I’ve also found inspiration and motivation from the following books to keep writing:
For Building a Daily Practice:
This Year You Write Your Novel by Walter Mosley
A step-by-step guide on how to complete your first novel, this book includes so many fundamentals of writing in general. He discusses character development, breaks down the different aspects of narrative voice, and explains how to build structure and keep the reader engaged. I appreciated all of the examples he used, in addition to simplified explanations for the most complex writing aspects like plot and story. This book encouraged me to keep writing because of the educational value, but the main message for me was to write everyday. Mosley emphasizes the importance of putting your writing in the forefront of your life by giving it a few hours every day and committing to this routine in order to accomplish your goals. No days off, even when you feel lost because just getting your thoughts on paper is enough.
For Feeling Less Alone:
The Writing Life by Annie Dillard
“…acknowledging that you ruin everything you touch, but touching it nevertheless, because acting is better than being here in mere opacity” In this story, Annie provides a shared experience among writers about the journey and isolation it brings. She uses metaphors and examples that make a writer who faced the same obstacles feel seen. Like Walter Mosley, Dillard acknowledges the difficulty of writing when you feel lost but the importance of getting words written on the page regardless.
For Creative Inspiration or Re-Centering:
Women Who Run With The Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes Ph.D.
I love every part of this book, and tend to revisit it from time to time when I’m feeling my creativity levels dwindling. Estes’ message in this book is that women are meant to be wild like the wolves, and when they are not, it’s a sure indication of imbalance in life. This read made me ask myself what are things that made me happy, and what does passionate creativity look like for me? Am I doing these things? She uses the metaphor “poison in the river” to symbolize the blockage of creativity. Things that can taint your river are “love affairs, too much work, too much play, by tiredness, or by fear of failure.” Another fable Sealskin, Souskin explores the life of a woman who gets caught following someone in their dream, and only once she leaves to pursue her own does her luster come back.
Parable of the Talents by Octavia Butler
The sequel to Parable of the Sower, Lauren Olamina’s daughter who is born amongst a dystopian world and separated from her mother soon after birth, gets a look into the life of her mother from the journals she left. She learned about her mother’s family and upbringing, and what life was like for her, as a mother taken away from her child. The unintentional inspiration I received from this book surrounds the power of leaving a trail of your voice. Is my writing revealing and relatable? Will it give others the chance to know me? Olamina survived the loss of her entire immediate family and a lot of her extended one, but keeps her and their lives undying through her journals. I dived into Octavia Butler’s writing as a break from self-help, and ended up lucky enough to experience great fiction with valuable lessons.
Seven Days In June by Tia Williams
You might be wondering how a romance novel made its way into this article. Aside from the beauty of two lovers rekindling, I love how successful Eva and Shane are as writers. Regardless of the fact that it’s fiction, there’s something so fulfilling about seeing the most successful published black writers being recognized internationally. The book shows how the two used writing to escape their troubled childhoods, build successful careers, and also make their way back to one another in love. It’s like writing is its own multi-faceted main character. I love the black joy I felt reading this book, where both love and writing were the focal point.
There’s really no guide as to what can be deemed inspirational. I discovered this after exploring the world of fiction in search for a lighter storyline only to discover that a lot of my inspiration came from feeling seen in the stories I was reading. Although I highly recommend all of the books in this article, I encourage everyone around me to read books that make you feel good. Books can be simply read for pleasure. And that pleasure can sometimes breed motivation. Happy reading, and happy writing! Hope these recs can serve as a little bit of inspiration, feel free to drop any recommendations in the comment section below.
Asya is an accounting and finance professional who loves fiction novels, travel, writing, nature, and being a plant mom.