I often get asked what books I’d recommend for new and aspiring writers.

One of my top recommendations isn’t really a how-to book. It won’t tell you how to write, or how to start writing. It doesn’t have writing tips, and won’t give you any short cuts on how to make writing easier or faster.

What it does talk about is what it means to be a writer. Or to be a person who creates something, whether it be music, fine arts, screenplays, etc. It gets into the nature of art itself, and more specifically, the nature of artists.

It talks about the bravery, and curiosity and habits necessary to be come a writer and an artist.

Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert single-handedly got me back on track a couple years ago after a book very near and dear to my heart, one I was immensely proud of, released to meh reviews. In fact, someone I consider a good friend gave it a 2-star review on Amazon (though, I’m questioning the good part—all my friends don’t have to love all my books, but I truly scratched my head over her desire to publicly post all the things she didn’t like about it).

And while in hindsight, I cringe to think that I let other people’s opinions and actions influence my own, I went into a bit of a tailspin, wondering why I was even bothering with this whole “writing thing.”

This book helped me realize that art—in my case, stories—isn’t about the reader, it’s not about the editor, it’s not even about the artist. It’s about the art itself.

Recommended Reading for Writers: Big Magic