7 Books Every Songwriter Should Read

Writing and reading lessens our isolation and prods our imagination. Music makes our souls dance, and great art leaves an impression that lasts for centuries.


Over my 23 years as a professional songwriter, I’ve read just about every book on creativity I could get my hands on. Though I’m convince I will never fully understand this magical, mythical experience of creative inspiration, these books have helped me tap into my creative energy more often along on my songwriting journey.



On Writing, by Stephen King

An inspirational and authentic view of an artist’s journey. This book outlines, in the form of a biography, the work, dedication, disappointment and joy of an artist’s life. A real life guide for anyone thinking of choosing a creative career.




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

Think you have an artist inside of you? Writer Anne Lamott’s quirky and honest voice will help you find your passion and voice.




 The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield

What’s stopping you from doing what you truly long to do? This book helps you understand the naysayer within and break through the internal barriers that every artist faces. A truly real and practical guide for succeeding in any creative arena from writer to entrepreneur.



Song Building: How To Write Better Songs Faster

by Marty Dodson and Bill O’Hanlon

A comprehensive, insightful overview on successful lyric writing by 6-time #1 hit songwriter Marty Dodson and noted book author Bill O’Hanlon. A must-read for any musician or songwriter embarking on a career involving writing songs. This also appeals to the seasoned writer who wants to improve their craft level and speed throughout the writing process.




The Artist’s Way  by Julia Cameron

Whether you are a musician, poet, or painter, this book will help you discover and develop the true artist within.




Letters to a Young Poet, by Rainer Maria Rilke

A beautiful collection of 10 letters written by Bohemian-Austrian poet Rainer Maria Rilke to Franz Xaver Kappus, a 19-year-old officer cadet at the Theresian Military Academy. In these letters Rilke advises Kappus on deciding between a pursuing his dream of a literary career or choosing a career as an officer in the Austro-Hungarian Army.


The Songwriter’s Guide To Mastering Co-Writing

by Marty Dodson, Clay Mills, and Bill O’ Hanlon

From the great musical duos of John Lennon/Paul McCartney to Elton John/Bernie Tuapin, co-writing has long been an important skill for songwriters. Surprisingly, there are very few pro books on this subject!  The Songwriter’s Guide To Mastering Co-Writing will help you identify your strengths as a collaborator and elevate your writing by creating the perfect co-writing combinations in your music world. Eliminate your writing weaknesses and increase your chances of songwriting success!


Write On! ~CM


Clay Mills is a 16-time ASCAP hit songwriter, producer, and performer. His songs have been recorded by such artist as Lady Antebellum, Darius Rucker, Babyface, Reba McEntire, and Kimberly Locke. He has 2 Grammy nominations for “Beautiful Mess” by Diamond Rio and “Heaven Heartache” by Trisha Yearwood.

16 thoughts on “7 Books Every Songwriter Should Read

  1. Thank you so much for the great information I look forward in hearing from you in future and learning all I can about songwriting .

  2. I have one book, then got 2 through Audible, including On Writing which is read by Stephen King. It is very interesting listening to him talk!

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