Have you read these Inspiring Books?

I’m a self-taught writer. I didn’t study literature at school. I grew up on abridged versions available in cheap paperbacks in India and didn’t study the classics that British kids are exposed to over the last three decades.

I learnt my craft by reading about writing and by writing, by submitting a lot of failed attempts and by reading a lot of what I wanted to write. I took lessons from other writers, attended workshops (Meg Rosoff calls me serial workshop attendee) and went to writing retreats.

I read a lot about writing and the art of the story. Not just about the craft – but about editors, their experiences. I read author biographies and auto-biographies – not to figure out the magic – but to learn the magic. I have a shelf full of craft and advice books on writing, not to mention a collection of some more in my kindle.

I recommend books I love, books I learnt from and books that inspired me to fellow writers and friends who want to learn to write the first time. I tweet about books I love. I try and make contact with the writers who inspired me (serial stalker of other writers?). And I thought it’s now time I document all my recommendations in one place.

Where do I start?

My first love of writing was writing picture books. After many failed attempts, I met Anastasia Suen online and did an online course with her. I don’t remember what I wrote in her class. But I’m sure a lot of it stuck in my head.


Then I went out and bought her book “Picture Writing.” It covers other topics like chapter books and YA. But this was the book that formally taught me to write picture books.

With a lot of advice from Writers’ Digest – I went and bought “Crafting Stories for Children” by Nancy Lamb. Another book that helped me with


foundations. Reading that book again recently, I realized I might have skimmed through the chapter books and YA part – but many aspects of writing stayed with me. It was like little gaps of the sky filled with bits of clouds of wisdom.


At the same time, I read two books that gave me the courage to write.

birdbybirdBird by Bird by Anne Lamott and Stephen King’s

On Writing: The Memoir of the Craft.


These two are classics that no new writer can start without and I’m sure all of you have already read it.



More recently, I read Writing Picture Books by Ann Whitford-Paul. A bible I should say, for those who want to write picture books.

writingpicturebooksA focused book covering all aspects of writing picture books.

A few years ago after a bout of break-ups and a very heartbroken phase, I stopped writing for months. I didn’t know how to get back to writing. I didn’t want to write. Then I came across a recommendation – Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg. I bought that book in a US bookstore and read it cover to cover.

This book writingdownthebonesbrought me back to writing. Slowly – one prompt at a time, one exercise at a time, I rediscovered the joy of writing.

I followed that one up with “Wild Mind” and “Old Friend from Far Away” by Natalie again and I was hooked. In fact I signed up to spend a week in a Buddhist monastery listening to her talk about writing, all the way in Santa Fe, New Mexico. And this time, in spite of yet another wrangle with my ex, the trip was productive and my writing was going strong.

Natalie I should say, talks the way she writes. Actually it’s the other way, isn’t it? She writes the way she talks. She runs silent retreats in France and Boston every year, where all you do is walk, meditate and write. Not for me, though. She also recommended non-stop writing through the night. She said, the subconscious takes over when you’re drooping over your notebook and you’d find surprising things appear in your notebook. Haven’t been brave enough to attempt that yet.

When I’m talking about rediscovering writing, I should talk about Susan G.Woolridge’s books – Poem Crazy and Fool’s Gold. poemcrazyThese books taught me to love poetry when I despaired that I don’t have formal training. She taught me to trust my instinct and love for poetry and inspired me to create a Muse Box. I have a cardboard box full of stuff I collected in parks that I wrote about.

This list of recommendations will not be complete without some of my recent kindle acquisitions.

Invisible Ink by Brian McDonald is a master class in storytelling. invisibleinkIt was written for storytellers – wherever they might be – in studios writing screenplays or writers working on their manuscripts. He brings story and myth to the craft without ever lecturing you on structure and form. thegoldenthemeHis other book The Golden Theme is a must-learn concept for writers. You can’t miss adding these two books to your shelves.

Brian himself recommended me to read BILL IDELSON’S WRITING CLASS: A SCRIPTWRITING CURRICULUM. And I did. What a wonderful way to break down writing a story – maybe in screenwriting form – but the emphasis is not on the form of screenplay or novel or picture book. It’s all about the story.

I still have a long list of books to recommend about specific craft aspects and of course the list of inspiring biographies and books by editors. That’s for another day.

Until then, be inspired, create and have fun!