Nobody Wants To Read Your Shit (And Other Tough-Love Truths To Make You A Better Writer), by Steven Pressfield (Black Irish Entertainment, 2016)

Another writing/creativity get-up-and-do-it how-to book from Pressfield, this time focused on lessons learned along the way as a novelist, screenwriter, as an advertising creative, and as a motivational writer. The most important lesson is in the book’s title: others focus on the twin imperatives of theme and story to any form of writing. Excellent as ever: the trick is to now go and do it, of course.

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My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

Bad Weekend, by Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips, with Jacob Phillips (Image Comics, 2019)

Jacob is tasked with chaperoning a cantankerous comics veteran at a convention: matters soon spiral. Excellent and slightly meta stand-alone story with links to the wider Criminal universe. Plenty to relish, not least in its playing with comic book industry legends, noir tropes, and the flipside of niche fame and success.

My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

If I Only Had The Time: How To Keep Writing When The World Stops Moving, by Dave Cohen (TTTTTT Publications, 2021)

Reflections on creative writing: access, opportunities, and restrictions in 2021. An excellent short overview, with comedy writer Cohen bringing his decades of experience to the table. A focus throughout on the impacts of coronavirus and the internet, and on the need to both re-evaluate goals and directions while seeing new realities as chances. Recommended.

My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

Creativity: A Short and Cheerful Guide, by John Cleese (Hutchinson, 2020)

A brisk overview of creativity as a concept and as part of writing and related practices. Straightforward and accessible (if geared to Cleese fans and to folk who know who William Goldman is) but undeniably brief, scarcely stretching to anything approaching book length. Still, some useful insights and experiences are noted.

My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

The Organised Writer: How To Stay On Top Of All Your Projects And Never Miss A Deadline, by Antony Johnston (Bloomsbury, 2020)

A seasoned pro’s guide to structuring your writing life, to managing workload, and to tackling administration. A clear and detailed approach (with accompanying downloadable forms etc) that works both as a study of professional practice and as a practical how-to book. Even if you don’t put Johnston’s system into operation, there’s plenty of tips and ideas to support focus and direction.

My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

First You Write a Sentence, by Joe Moran (Penguin Books, 2018)

A book about writing, focusing on the sentence as a unit of construction. Once you settle into it, this is a very useful little book – geared towards non-fiction rather than fiction writing, so bear that in mind – that’ll offer not only some hard-won advice but sneak in a little grammar teaching and learning in too.

My own books here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

The Hero, by Lee Child (TLS Books, 2019)

A writer‘s perspective on what the concept of the hero signifies to them. A smart, clear monograph on different aspects of what a hero might be, on the origins of the word and its meanings, and its relationships to thriller fiction. Hints of autobiography and writing philosophy, plus a love of words, meanings, and implications.

My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

With Child: Lee Child and the Readers of Jack Reacher, by Andy Martin (Polity Press, 2019)

A sequel/companion to Martin’s Reacher Said Nothing; a year with Lee Child in the aftermath of writing Make Me (documented in the first book). This time the emphasis is less on process than on the contexts of bestselling fiction: publicity, signings, readerships, filming, travel. As before (!), a unique insight into writing life, being funny, deft but erudite, and engaging throughout. Recommended.

My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.