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. I’m convinced I will never fully understand this magical, mythical experience of creative inspiration. But, these books have helped me tap into my creative energy more often along on my songwriting journey. Some of these books directly involve songwriting while the others will spark and refine your creative process as a songwriter.
On Writing, by Stephen King
An inspirational and authentic view of an artist’s journey.
Upon reading this book I was instantly struck by how much novelists and songwriters have in common. On Songwriting very well could have been title On Songwriting. Stephen’s biography outlines the work, dedication, disappointment, and joy of any artist’s life. It’s part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time.
On Writing offers a practical view of the writer’s craft and King’s advice is 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 a creative artist inside of you? Writer Anne Lamott’s quirky and honest voice will help you find your true passion and voice. Bird by Bird is a complete guide on how to write, and even more importantly, how to manage a writer’s life.
Chapters deal with a range of topics from “Getting Started,’ with “Short Assignments,” through “Shitty First Drafts,” to “How Do You Know When You’re Done?”
Lamott encourages us, instructs us, and inspires us to reach new creative heights. She offers advice on writing groups, writer’s block and publishing. Brutaly honest, she is happens to be one of the funniest people alive.
If you have ever wondered what it takes to be a writer, this book is for you.
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. Then, break through the internal barriers that every artist faces. It’s a real and practical guide for succeeding in any creative arena from writer to entrepreneur.
by Marty Dodson and Bill O’Hanlon
A comprehensive, insightful overview of successful lyric writing by 6-time #1 hit songwriter Marty Dodson. (Co-authored with 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
This book has been making its way through artistic circles for a couple of decades. 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 pursuing his dream of a literary career or choosing a career in the Austro-Hungarian Army.
by Marty Dodson, Clay Mills, and Bill O’ Hanlon
From the great musical duos of John Lennon/Paul McCartney to Elton John/Bernie Taupin, 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. Therefore, 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. He is the co-founder of SongTown and has 2 Grammy nominations for “Beautiful Mess” by Diamond Rio and “Heaven Heartache” by Trisha Yearwood. Clay is also the co-author of Mastering Melody Writing and The Songwriter’s Guide To Mastering Co-writing.