Stephen King once said, “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.”
Sometimes, the things we read will help us with the craft of writing. Sometimes we need to read books that will just keep us going. That’s why I return to books like Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott and Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg again and again.
Freelance writing, however, is a different kind of animal and requires a different kind of reading.
Here are 3 books I believe every freelance writer should read.
More Than Enough: Claiming Space for Who You Are (No Matter What They Say) by Elaine Welteroth
Elaine Welteroth is my best friend in my head. You may know her as a judge from Project Runway, but that’s not why we’re here. She’s an award-winning journalist and was editor-in-chief of Teen Vogue where in 2017 she became the youngest person ever appointed EIC. In 2012 she became the first African American to ever hold the post of beauty and health director at a Conde Nast publication. She was the senior beauty editor at Glamour and the beauty and style editor at Ebony. She’s also written for the hit show Grown-ish. So, I think you can understand why I had to read her memoir as soon as it was released in 2019.
More Than Enough is a book that speaks to my past, present, and future selves. Reading about Elaine shooting her shot for internships and hustling hard to stand out made me nostalgic for the days I worked to do the same.
While some may look at magazines like Teen Vogue as frivolous fluff, Elaine knew she could use them as a platform for purpose. As someone who has always wanted to make a difference but never wanted to go into hard news, this resonated with me and reminded me that my work matters. Every story, every quote, every gem of wisdom dripped onto these pages urged me to stay the course.
My So-Called Freelance Life: How to Survive and Thrive as a Creative Professional for Hire by Michelle Goodman
If you’re thinking about going full-time freelance, read this book first. In this book Michelle Goodman, who is a freelance writer and author of The Anti 9-to-5 Guide, covers – everything: goal setting, getting gigs, finances, working from home, taxes, time management, and much more.
Two weeks after I quit my teaching job to write full time I sat at a table in a Newk’s restaurant with a big cup of sweet tea and devoured this book. I knew how to write. I knew how to build relationships with editors to get gigs. But I needed something to help me with all the un-sexy stuff and this book did exactly that but in a way that was fun and easy to digest.
The Byline Bible by Susan Shapiro
Many journalists who are also writers of creative non-fiction fancy ourselves as essayists as well. And we dream of landing an essay in a big-name publication. I know that’s at the top of my bucket list. And that’s why I bought The Byline Bible.
Susan Shapiro, an award-winning writing professor and best-selling author, teaches classes designed to help you write and pitch a personal essay to a major media outlet in mere weeks. This book walks you through each of the steps she teaches in her classes.
Not only has this book helped me as a writer, but it’s also helped me do a better job guiding women who want to write essays for Reckon Women. If personal essays are your jam – read this book!
What are some of your favorite books on writing?