Book Recommendation: The Art of Nonfiction
by Ayn Rand
The Art of Nonfiction contains a host of insights about the writing process. I recommend it to all serious writers.
The book is based on an informal course Ayn Rand gave to some of her associates in 1969. Although a few sections presuppose the original audience, most of the book is of interest to any writer. She discusses a wide range of issues, including choosing a subject and theme, outlining, drafting, editing, developing a style, and solving writer's block.
In one of my favorite chapters (Chapter 6: "Writing the Draft: The Primacy of the Subconscious"), Ayn Rand encourages one to "learn to discriminate your inner states" as a means of diagnosing problems. She gives colorful names to some of the states she describes, such as "white tennis shoes" (resistance to starting) and "the squirms" (a contradiction in purpose that prevents progress). Knowing the differences helps you identify problems and solve them.
Ayn Rand's ability to observe and conceptualize her own mental processes makes this book a unique value. She can describe and explain phenomena which less introspective writers find ineffable. Her fresh observations will help any writer to understand the writing process better, and thereby write more easily.
Book Information: Ayn Rand, The Art of Nonfiction: A Guide for Writers and Readers, Plume, 2001.