Saint Louis, MO

5 Books Every St. Louis Writer Should Read This Year

Kyle Smith

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Ray Bradbury once said, “Just write every day of your life. Read intensely. Then see what happens. Most of my friends who are put on that diet have very pleasant careers.”

Most of the time, St. Louis writers are focused on the content we are creating, whether it's blog posts, podcasts, books, articles, or client work. But the basis for that content has to come from somewhere. There has to be an input. Our work as writers can't be focused just on the output.

That's why reading is such a critical part of what we do. Today, I'd like to share five books that I believe every writer should read this year. I have focused on books that help you get the work done as opposed to books that are mostly inspiration or theory.

1. On Writing by Stephen King

Stephen King is one of the most successful novelists of all time, and there's a pretty good chance that you have read at least one of his books. When you read On Writing, you get a clear sense that he really believes in you. And even though the book itself is fantastic, the main thing I have always taken away from it is that Stephen King is pulling for me to succeed as a writer and storyteller.

There are a lot of writing teachers far less successful than him who come across in a condescending way. Even though I've never met Stephen King in person, based on this book I've always thought of him as an approachable guy who feels like a friend.

The book is broken into two parts. In the first part, King tells the story of how he became a writer and some lessons he has learned along the way. This part is entertaining, but I don't find it as helpful as the second part, where he goes talks about the nuts and bolts of writing and storytelling.

Even so, On Writing is lots of fun. It will also give you some practical tips you can put into practice immediately.

2. Perennial Seller by Ryan Holiday

You might already be familiar with Ryan Holiday. He writes books about stoicism and also about marketing and media, including Perennial Seller. The whole idea of this book is fascinating. It focuses on how to create work that lasts. The book is divided into four parts: the creative process, positioning, marketing, and platform.

What I appreciate most about this book is that it stresses the importance of putting in the work. If I had to choose an author who is my current non-fiction author, it would be Ryan Holiday. His writing is a great blend of research, storytelling, and good old-fashioned common sense.

3. You Must Write A Book by Honoree Corder

Honoree is the co-author of the popular Miracle Morning Series as well as a very successful author in her own right. She has mastered self-publishing success and has produced lots of books and resources that help other authors do the same.

I have recommended You Must Write a Book to a lot of people. The reason is that she gives you a clear, step-by-step system for planning, writing, launching, and marketing your book.

If you don't get any other book on this list, I encourage you to pick this one up. This gives you a clear blueprint to actually get your book done and into the hands of readers.

4. Save The Cat Writes A Novel by Jessica Brody

About 15 years ago, Blake Snyder wrote a great book called Save The Cat!. Snyder was a screenwriter, and the book was designed to give you a template for writing great stories. The term "save the cat" refers to an act the hero of the story must do in order for us to like him or her ... such as saving a cat.

A lot of people have used the Save the Cat storytelling template to write screenplays. However, novelists have wondered how to adapt it for novels. A couple of years ago, Jessica Brody, who is a successful novelist, did us all a huge favor and gave us the blueprint for using the Save the Cat template for novels.

Save the Cat! Writes a Novel is a very fun read. Jessica goes through each of the ten story genres and uses different novels to show how the Save the Cat! framework works within each one.

She also does a very detailed breakdown of Save the Cat! in the first part of the book, which is worth the price of the book itself.

I am a huge proponent of cross-pollinating ideas and learning from different disciplines. Even if you write non-fiction, you need to learn how to tell better stories. And at the very least, it's helpful to know how novels and screenplays are constructed so you can have a deeper appreciation of what you read and watch.

5. Do The Work by Steven Pressfield

I love Steven Pressfield's popular book The War of Art, but my personal favorite is Do the Work. It's very similar in style to The War of Art, but Do the Work emphasizes the most important thing we can do as writers, which is simply ... doing the work.

If The War of Art is sort of a field manual for artists and writers, Do the Work is the blueprint for getting the work done.This is not a book to be read quickly and then put on the shelf. It's a book to carry around with you and savor.

There you have it. My advice would be to get all five of these books and read one per month.

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I write about writing, productivity, creativity, and much more.

St. Louis, MO
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