Lynn Domina

Books on the Craft of Writing

Addonizio, Kim. Ordinary Genius: A Guide for the Poet Within. New York: W.W. Norton, 2009.
Part essay, part craft exercises. Several good examples.

Addonizio, Kim and Dorianne Laux. The Poet’s Companion: A Guide to the Pleasures of Writing Poetry. New York: W.W. Norton, 1997.
Many useful exercises for developing content and working on form.

Behn, Robin and Chase Twichell. The Practice of Poetry: Writing Exercises from Poets Who Teach. New York: HarperPerennial, 1992.
Dozens of craft exercises contributed  by numerous contemporary poets.  

Bernays, Anne and Pamela Painter. What If? Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers. 2nd ed. New York: Pearson, 2004.
Excellent resource for developing fiction.

Goldberg, Natalie. Writing Down the Bones. Boston: Shambhala, 1986.
Goldberg, Natalie. Wild Mind: Living the Writer’s Life. New York: Bantam Books, 1990.
Goldberg, Natalie. Long Quiet Highway: Waking up in America. New York: Bantam Books, 1993.
Most of Goldberg’s books are arranged similarly, with writing prompts and exercises interspersed with memoir. She approaches writing as a spiritual practice. Buddhist perspective.

Tony Hoagland. The Art of Voice: Poetic Principles and Practice. New York: Norton, 2019.
Different aspects of voice, including several prompts.

Johnston, Bret Anthony, ed. Naming the World and Other Exercises for the Creative Writer. New York: Random House, 2007.
Many, many exercises and prompts contributed by different writers. Directed primarily toward fiction writers.

Lamott, Anne. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. New York: Anchor Books, 1994.
Partly memoir, partly writing advice. Unique sense of humor.

Livesey, Margot. The Hidden Machinery: Essays on Writing. Portland, OR: Tin House, 2017.           
Essays on writers and craft, primarily about fiction.

*Lockward, Diane. The Crafty Poet: A Portable Workshop. Nicholasville, KY: Wind Publications, 2013.
Extensive and challenging exercises with ample examples. Directed toward the more advanced writer.

Sharp, Caroline. A Writer’s Workbook. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2002.
Several dozen exercises with nicely developed reflections on their purpose.

White, Fred. The Daily Writer: 366 Meditations to Cultivate a Productive and Meaningful Writing Life. Cincinnati: Writer’s Digest Books, 2008.
A year’s worth of brainstorming exercises for all writers.

Books on Writing and Spirituality

Andrew, Elizabeth Jarrett. Living Revision: A Writer’s Craft as Spiritual Practice. Boston: Skinner House Books, 2018.
Offers a perspective on revision useful for those who love revision and for those who hate it.

Cameron, Julia. The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity. New York: Putnam, 1992.
Highly influential book on writing as a spiritual practice.

Domina, Lynn, ed. Poets on the Psalms. San Antonio: Trinity University Press, 2008.
Fourteen contemporary poets respond to the psalms.

*Gundy, Jeff. Songs from an Empty Cage: Poetry, Mystery, Anabaptism, and Peace. Telford, PA: Cascadia Publishing, 2013.
Memoir and essays on the integration of writing and peacemaking.

*Harrity, Dave. Making Manifest: On Faith, Creativity, and the Kingdom at Hand. Wilmore, KY: Seedbed Publishing, 2013.
Reflections and writing exercises organized as a month-long retreat.

Hering, Karen. Writing to Wake the Soul: Opening the Sacred Conversation Within. New York: Atria, 2013.
Insights into writing about many topics spiritual writers engage with.

Holberg, Jennifer L. Shouts and Whispers: Twenty-one Writers Speak about Their Writing and Their Faith. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2006.
Essays and interviews by well-known writers. Christian perspective.

Isbell, Jennie and J. Brent Bill. Finding God in the Verbs: Crafting a Fresh Language of Prayer. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Books, 2015.
Filled with exercises for praying more deeply and writing prayers.

Johnson, Jeffrey L. Stars Shall Bend Their Voices: Poets’ Favorite Hymns and Spiritual Songs. Asheville, NC: Orison Books, 2018.
Brief essays by 25 contemporary poets.

*Kaminsky, Ilya and Katherine Towler, eds. A God in the House: Poets Talk about Faith. North Adams, MA: Tupelo Press, 2012.
Interviews with poets from many faith traditions.

Kasdorf, Julia Spicher. The Body and the Book: Writing from a Mennonite Life: Essays and Poems. University Park, PA: Penn State University Press, 2009.
Partly memoir, partly example.

Leax, John. Grace Is Where I Live: Writing as a Christian Vocation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1993.
Autobiographical essays by a poet who takes faith seriously.

Paintner, Christine Valters. The Artist’s Rule: Nurturing Your Creative Soul with Monastic Wisdom. Notre Dame, IN: Sorin Books, 2011.
Organized as a 12-week set of exercises and contemplative reflections.

Schneider, Pat. Writing Alone and with Others. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.
Good information on being part of a writing group as well as exercises for developing new work.

*Schneider, Pat. How the Light Gets In: Writing as a Spiritual Practice. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013.
Partly memoir, partly craft exercises by the founder of Amherst Writers & Artists.

Wright, Vinita Hampton. The Art of Spiritual Writing: How to Craft Prose That Engages and Inspires Your Readers. Chicago: Loyola Press, 2013.
The title says it all; a classic in the field.

Collections of Essays, Interviews, Etc.

Brown, Kurt, ed. The True Subject: Writers on Life and Craft. St. Paul, MN: Graywolf Press, 1993.
Fourteen “craft talks” by writers who direct workshops at writing conferences.

Brown, Kurt, ed. Writing It Down for James: Writers on Life and Craft. Boston: Beacon Press, 1995.
A second volume, similar to the volume above.

Finch, Annie and Kathrine Varnes, eds. An Exaltation of Forms: Contemporary Poets Celebrate the Diversity of Their Art. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2002.
Very useful collection of essays on formal poetry with numerous examples.

Friedman, Bonnie. Writing Past Dark: Envy, Fear, Distraction, and Other Dilemmas in the Writing Life. New York: HarperPerennial, 1993.
Useful essays about the challenges of living as a writer.

Hirshfield, Jane. Nine Gates: Entering the Mind of Poetry. New York: HarperPerennial, 1997.
Hybrid of philosophy and poetic craft. Buddhist perspective.

Jarman, Mark. The Secret of Poetry. Ashland, OR: Story Line Press, 2001.
Critical essays by a highly respected poet.

Orr, Gregory and Ellen Bryant Voigt, eds. Poets Teaching Poets: Self and the World. Ann Arbot: University of Michigan Press, 1996.
Collection of “craft talks” by sixteen contemporary poets.

See, Carolyn. Making a Literary Life: Advice for Writers and Other Dreamers. New York: Random House, 2002.
Suggestions on life and craft for those who wish to integrate writing more fully into their lives.

Strand, Mark and Eavan Boland, eds. The Making of a Poem: A Norton Anthology of Poetic Forms. New York: W.W. Norton, 2000.
Very useful collection of material on types of formal poetry with numerous examples.

Tobin, Daniel and Pimone Triplett, eds. Poet’s Work, Poet’s Play: Essays on the Practice and the Art. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2008.
Seventeen contemporary poets contribute nicely developed essays on aspects of craft.

The Writers Notebook: Craft Essays from Tin House. Portland, OR: Tin House Books, 2009.
Essays by seventeen contemporary writers, focusing on both prose and poetry.

Writers on Writing: Collected Essays from the New York Times. New York: Henry Holt, 2001.
Collection of brief essays on idiosyncratic topics.

*I have reviewed these books much more extensively on my blog, A Review a Week, which you can access via my website: .

Literary Periodicals with a Focus on Spirituality

You will likely enjoy much of the writing in these magazines, and you should also consider them as venues for your own work if you are interested in publishing. Most are print journals, but I’ve included their websites for your convenience.

EcoTheo Review




Rock and Sling


St. Katherine Review

Theopoetics Journal



Conferences Focusing on Writing and Spirituality

Ministry of Writing Colloquium, The Earlham School of Religion, Richmond, IN

            A comparatively small conference held one week-end each fall, featuring workshops and panel discussions.

Festival of Faith and Writing, Calvin College, Grand Rapids, MI

A larger conference featuring many well known writers, with readings, panels, and keynote speakers, as well as a large book exhibit. Held springs of even numbered years.

Writing Workshops, The Collegeville Institute, St. John’s Abbey, Collegeville, MN

Offers a range of writing workshops throughout the summer. All transportation and housing costs are covered by the Institute.

Poetry Conference, Institute of Sacred Music, Yale University, New Haven, CT

A short conference organized around a specific theme each spring or summer.