To be a writer, one must also read

Elizabeth Donald
4 min readJan 8, 2024

I’m always amazed by writers who insist they don’t have time to read, or even boast that they refuse to read, so as to not sully their creativity with *checks notes* words.

While most articles on this topic discuss the importance of reading in your genre and outside of it, learning more from every word you read, there is another aspect: reading books about writing. Yes, we all go a little crazy consuming “how to” books — Writer’s Digest has an entire cottage industry based on it. A lot of writing manuals are barely worth the paper they’re printed on, offering sneaky tricks that lead to bad prose and giving the illusion of an easy path.

There’s nothing easy about writing.

But some books really speak to the writer’s soul, and usually those are inextricably entwined with the author’s life and how life and work tie together and complement each other. ’Tis the season for New Year’s resolutions, and since many times those who have fallen off the horse resolve to “get back to writing,” I thought it would be a good topic to kick off the new year.

Those I have read and found inspiring, with the caveat that some I read long ago, in case your New Year’s Resolution was to start or resume writing:

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
On Writing by Stephen King
The Writing Life by Annie Dillard



Elizabeth Donald

Journalist for more than 25 years, freelance writer, editor, photographer, and fiction author. Subscribe at or visit