When someone mentions personal development to you, what do you do?
Sigh and wonder when they’re going to give up.
Smile and nod along while secretly running through your dinner plans?
Slowly walk away and pretend you have somewhere to be?
You see, self-improvement and personal development have a bit of a reputation. Enthusiasts tend to get a little evangelical and won’t shut up about it. You begin to wonder whether they’ve been smoking something funky.
But what if I could recommend some personal development books that would enhance and improve your writing habits? What if there were books out there that could build your confidence and self-belief? I can promise there won’t be any sign of a man in a long dress burning incense.
In today’s post, I’m recommending six fantastic books that have improved my own productivity and self-belief. To put it bluntly, they’ve made me the determined person I am today.
Reading them has changed my mindset and my habits – both of which have improved my writing.
There are many books out there and some are better than others. However, these are the ones that have had the most impact on my writing life.
Just go in with an open mind and lean into it.
6 Personal Development Books for Writers
1. The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be by Jack Canfield
The Success Principles helps you get from where you are to where you want to be. It teaches you how to increase your confidence, tackle daily challenges, live with passion and purpose, and realize all your ambitions.
Filled with memorable and inspiring stories of CEO’s, world-class athletes, celebrities, and everyday people, it spells out the 64 timeless principles used by successful men and women throughout history–proven principles and strategies that can be adapted for your own life.
Taken together and practiced every day, these principles will change your life beyond your wildest dreams.
I first picked this book up in 2013 after a recommendation by another author, Joanna Penn. Intrigued I ordered a copy and read it from cover to cover. At that point in my life, it was just what I needed. Full of success principles that changed my outlook on my ambitions and goals, this book did just the same for me as it did for Joanna.
It completely and utterly changed my life. Without it, I wouldn’t be where I am today – plain and simple. Yes, it may sound like a grand thing to say, but it’s entirely true. From reading this book on personal development, my love of this subject began and is still with me today.
If you want to start with any book on personal development, make it this one.
2. Eat That Frog!: Get More Of The Important Things Done Today by Brian Tracy
‘There just isn’t enough time for everything on our ‘To Do’ list – and there never will be. Successful people don’t try to do everything. They learn to focus on the most important tasks and make sure they get done.
There’s an old saying that if the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that it’s probably the worst thing you’ll do all day. Using ‘eat that frog’ as a metaphor for tackling the most challenging task of your day, Eat That Frog! shows you how to zero in on these critical tasks and organize your day. You’ll not only get more done faster, but get the right things done.’
The first time I read this book on productivity, it blew me away. I was a struggling deputy headteacher at the time and I had so many things on my to-do list. I felt as though I was drowning. Overwhelm, fear and a sense of failure drove me to buy it and I have never regretted it.
Practising its principles in my DH job meant that I was able to see the power of this approach and begin to use it in other areas of my life too. My writing habits and productivity have benefitted hugely. Personal development is not just about loving yourself, gratitude and accepting responsibility, it’s also about developing powerful habits that can push you towards achieving all the goals you have set.
A remarkable book that will improve your writing habits in so many different ways.
3. The Obstacle is the Way: The Ancient Art of Turning Adversity to Advantage by Ryan Holiday
‘We give up too easily. With a simple change of attitude, what seem like insurmountable obstacles become once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. Ryan Holiday draws on the philosophy of the Stoics to guide you in every situation, showing that what blocks our path actually opens one that is new and better.
If the competition threatens you, it’s time to be fearless, to display your courage. An impossible deadline becomes a chance to show how dedicated you are.
The Stoic philosophy – that what is in the way, is the way – can be applied to any problem: it’s a formula invented more than 2,000 years ago, whose effectiveness has been proven in battles and board rooms ever since. From Barack Obama’s ability to overcome obstacles in his election races, to the design of the iPhone, the stoic philosophy has helped its users become world-beaters.’
As writers we face many obstacles – ones that we impose on ourselves as well as those from the gatekeepers in the publishing world. It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the process of writing and publication. So much so that we can give up before we’ve achieved our full potential.
My husband bought this book for me several years ago, having heard Ryan speak on a podcast he listens to. He read it and raved about it and encouraged me to read it too. It sat on my shelf for three years before I picked it up and boy, am I glad I did!
Understanding that the obstacles we face are just part of the journey has improved my outlook on my writing life. It is easy to think that these obstacles are insurmountable and that we will never achieve our goals, but Ryan encourages you to think of ways around them. He reminds you that what once was in the way, soon becomes the way to approach any difficult setback in life.
Reading this book will encourage you to view rejection differently and to keep going, even when the chips are down. You won’t regret the lessons you’ll learn.
‘What if you could wake up tomorrow and any – or EVERY – area of your life was beginning to transform? What would you change? The Miracle Morning is already transforming the lives of tens of thousands of people around the world by showing them how to wake up each day with more ENERGY, MOTIVATION, and FOCUS to take your life to the next level. It’s been right here in front of us all along, but this book has finally brought it to life.
Are you ready? The next chapter of YOUR life-the most extraordinary life you’ve ever imagined-is about to begin. It’s time to WAKE UP to your full potential…’
Until early 2018, I wasn’t a morning person. If anything I stayed up in the evening, binging on Netflix shows and heading to bed at 11pm. I’d press the snooze button on my alarm until I absolutely had to get up and then I would walk around in a daze until I finally felt human.
You see some people are larks and some are owls. Owls don’t understand larks and larks certainly don’t understand owls. There is even the belief that you can’t change from one to another. You’re born that way.
Well, I’m here to tell you that it is possible to change because I’ve done it. I made the resolution at the start of the year to get up and be productive. I’d read The Miracle Morning a couple of years before, but had never truly put it into practice. I was determined to try again.
It’s been six months now and I’ve transformed (almost gracefully) into a lark. I am up at 6am and I follow the habits set out in this book. By starting the day in a meaningful way, I find that the rest of the day is more productive too.
If you struggle to get a morning routine together and even wonder why people bother, I urge you to read this book and you’ll soon see the benefits.
5. No Excuses!: The Power of Self-Discipline by Brian Tracy
No Excuses! shows you how you can achieve success in all three major areas of your life, including your personal goals, business and money goals, and overall happiness.
With these guidelines, you can learn how to be more successful in everything you do- instead of wistfully envying others you think are just “luckier” than you. A little self-discipline goes a long way, so stop making excuses and read this book!
Ah, self-discipline, the enemy of many writers around the world. It’s easy to think that the most successful writers that we admire achieved their success by sheer luck or talent, but that’s not always the case. Procrastination, self-doubt and lack of confidence stop many writers in their tracks.
In his book, Brian Tracy explores the different ways that people can lack self-discipline and how, by mastering it, you can achieve anything you want. He encourages you to vote yourself off ‘the island of excuses’ and begin to take responsibility for your life.
As a writer, this is crucial. So if you’re someone who blames everyone and everything about your current writing life, it’s time you bought this book and took control. It’s time to take responsibility for your writing success and own it. The choice is ultimately yours.
6. You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero
‘Practical, funny, implementable advice and stories that will help you understand why you are how you are, how to love what you can’t change, how to change what you don’t love, and how to be a badass all the time.
YOU ARE A BADASS IS THE SELF-HELP BOOK FOR PEOPLE WHO DESPERATELY WANT TO IMPROVE THEIR LIVES BUT DON’T WANT TO GET BUSTED DOING IT.
By the end of You Are a Badass, you’ll understand how to use The Force to kick some serious ass.’
I started with my favourite personal development book and I’m finishing with the one that gets the silver medal. I read The Success Principles and You are a Badass at least once a year and refer to them often, recommending them to everyone. This is the book I buy people who need some direction!
If you’ve always shied away from personal development books because they seem a bit ‘woohoo’ then you can rest assured that this is the one for you. Jen is a hilarious writer and her book has gained something of a cult following in entrepreneurship and personal development circles.
With witty stories and practical tips, this book helped me to stop worrying about what everyone else thought I was doing with my life. I began to focus on me. If you doubt your writing abilities, this book will help you overcome that once and for all.
This selection of books can enhance and improve your writing life. You just need to pick one that appeals to you and start reading it. There is no right or wrong way to embrace personal development. It will benefit you in many areas of your life, but most importantly it can help you become the writer you want to be.
Now go out there and grab your writing life by the balls, you’ll be so happy you did.
Do you have any personal development or self-improvement books to recommend? Let us know in the comments below so we can all have a gander. Thanks!
If you’re interested to see other books I’ve been reading this year, check out the Reading Challenge page for more ideas.