The Books for Online Writers
Friday, October 19th, 2012
There's a few books that have made me stop and think more about my writing, and the overall strategy behind the sites I write for. I first started studying content strategy to improve my work writing copy for startups when I worked at CoSupport, but the things I've learned from these books have helped me with my writing and editing work ever sense. I'm still not a great writer, in any sense, but these books have been helpful to me, and I hope they're helpful to you as well.
- The Elements of Content Strategy | Erin Kissane
This is the first book that made me seriously think different about how I approach writing and editing. It'll introduce you to Content strategy, if you've never heard of the term, and will help you rethink how you think about content. You'll go away thinking about why to write what you write.
Read the first chapter, A Checklist for Content Work, online for free
- Content Strategy for the Web | Kristina Halvorson & Melissa Rach
The Elements of Content Strategy led me to this book, and it became the English textbook that taught me more than any English textbook I ever used in college. It takes you, step by step, though your content and how you should plan, edit, and more. It's a goldmine of ideas for making your online writing better, whether you're writing individual articles or editing a whole site. The main things it taught me were to write more concisely (still learning), and have a constant flow to my writing. It's big and in-depth, but it's good.
- The Elements of Style | William Strunk, Jr.
Sure, it might be derided for being outdated or having wrong advice, and I definitely don't apply everything it teaches. But it is a great refresher on writing proper English, filled with tips on things that most of us totally forget after leaving English I in school. Plus, it's free, so it'll only cost you the time to refresh your memory. It really is good.
- The Shape of Design | Frank Chimero
This book is about design, but I found that reading it inspired me to write better. It's described as "A fieldguide for makers. A love letter to design." That seems a pretty adequate description for me. If you think of your writing as a craft, as something you do to express your creativity, then this is a book that will inspire you.
At least, it has and continues to inspire me.
Read the first chapter, How and Why, online for free
- A Pen and Pencil, or a Blank Document and Your Keyboard | you
Oh wait, that's not a book. Not yet, anyhow.
The very best way to improve your writing is to write, and write, and write. That's why I'm writing this article, and why you should go write something right now. Then publish it, or throw it away. It really doesn't matter. Just making yourself put words down, and then doing that every day, is the very best thing you can do for your writing.