Best books for ADHD writers: the 5 most helpful picks

Writing with ADHD can be both exhilarating and challenging. As writers with ADHD, we possess a unique set of strengths and quirks that shape our creative process. But often, we can’t do it alone. We need guidance, mentorship, and, sometimes, instruction. So I thought the best thing I can do to help you, is to put together a list of the 5 best books for ADHD writers. 

These books will help empower adults with ADHD, unlocking doors to productive writing environments, ways to manage your self-doubt, new ways of learning to write better, and, of course, better grammar. 

So join me as I explore the top 5 picks that are bound to become indispensable author resources in your writing toolbox. 

5. Strunk's Elements of Style

The Elements of Style is a book that belongs right next to the dictionary, thesaurus, and encyclopedia on your shelf. It’s not a book you’ll curl up with, it’s one you’ll check periodically when you struggle with a particularly challenging sentence. 

This book will teach you the best ways to use commas. It will show you how to use my favorite punctuation mark: the em dash. And it gives you a list of the most commonly misspelled words and the most commonly misused phrases. It’s a great reference work to have laying around when you edit your own work. 

And if you’re one of the many adult writers with ADHD who didn’t pay enough attention in English class – or whose memory is not where they’d like it to be – you’ll be sure to agree with me. This thin reference book is one of the best books for ADHD writers out there.  For more on this book, check out the blog post I wrote about it here

4. Wolff's Your Writing Coach

Jurgen Wolff has a lot to say about a lot of different things in his book “Your Writing Coach.” Of all the books I’ve recommended, this one is the most comprehensive in covering aspects of the life of a writer. 

Wolff does not tell you only about the art of writing. Instead, he teaches you to organize your life in such a way that you can actually do the writing. He shows you how to be a writer, by discussing all aspects of the life of an author. And though a lot of his examples are about screenwriting, he still provides you with a lot of information and tips to be the best ADHD writer you can be, if you write any other type of text. Though he doesn’t mention ADHD, this might be the one book that all adults with ADHD who want to write need. 

In my ADHD writing coaching practice, I have found that making changes in your writing life is one of the most profound things adults with ADHD can do to improve their writing. And that’s why this book is #4 on my list of the best books for ADHD writers. 

You can find the blogpost I wrote about this book here

3. King's On Writing

It’s (almost) impossible to make a list of best author resources without mentioning Stephen King. As you’ll probably know, he wrote a memoir called “On Writing,” which is a combination of life story and writing manual. Like most of the authors on this list, King practices what he preaches. He not only explains how to write, he wrote this book in an exemplary way.

But one of the main reasons why I recommend this book to writers is his impostor syndrome. If someone as successful as Stephen King can feel like he’s not really a great writer – and at some point someone is going to find that out – then you can safely assume that your fears, your feelings of inferiority, are actually what make you a writer. All writers feel like impostors. That’s especially true for all writers with ADHD and even adults with ADHD in general. And hearing that from one of the bestselling authors of our time can really help. 

If you want to learn more about my opinions on this book, check out the blog post here

2. Zinnser's On Writing Well

It’s funny to put this book next to the previous one. The titles seem to suggest that though Stephen King teaches you to write, Zinsser’s On Writing Well teaches how to do it well. And though that’s not completely the case he did end up higher on my list!

For nonfiction writers especially, this book is an invaluable resource. One of the main reasons why I like this book so much is that Zinsser makes great use of examples of writing. And his examples truly have been written well. This book made me both laugh and cry — which is pretty impressive for a manual, if you ask me. That alone would put him on my list of the best books for ADHD writers. But if you’re interested in three more reasons to read this book for adults with ADHD, check out the blog post here

1. Prose's Reading Like a Writer

And that brings us to my number one pick for the 5 best books for ADHD writers: Francine Prose’s Reading like a Writer. She has a colorful way of describing what many of these authors dryly and concisely posit. But her book does much more than that. 

Francine Prose believes that the best way to become a good writer is to learn from the masters. She also seems to believe that different authors have different strengths.

For example: did you know Jane Austen is a master at using dialogue to establish character?

That is how Prose structured her book. She lifts out the main components of books and uses examples from the masters of writing to show the options, the different ways to approach this component. In the process, she teaches you how to read in such a way that you can learn to become a better writer.

As writers with ADHD, and adults with ADHD in general, are often a little bit averse to having people tell them what to do, this approach makes Prose’s book my absolute favorite on this list of best books for ADHD writers.

Check out my blog post on Reading Like a Writer here

How to use the 5 best books for ADHD writers

These 5 best books for ADHD writers are great tools to help hone your craft. However, they all have their different qualities and foci. So the question of what book you should read first can only be answered if you figure out what aspect of your writing lifestyle as adults with ADHD you would like to tackle first.

  • Do you need help with the nitty-gritty of spelling, punctuation and grammar? Then you need Strunk’s book.
  • Do you want to learn how to organize your life around your writing? Wolff’s the author for you.
  • Do you want to know what it’s like to live the life of a writer, and how to deal with obstacles? Read King’s memoir.
  • And if you want to learn from strong writers, if you want to improve your style, your understanding of different genres and stylistic choices? Go to Zinsser for non-fiction and Prose for fiction. 

So what's next?

If you want more tips and tricks about writing as adults with ADHD: just join the Passionate Writer Coaching mailing list! Input your name and e-mail in the form below, and every month I’ll send you new tips and tricks, straight into your inbox.