Books with exercises are my favorite kinds of writer’s resource books because they make me do something to remember what I’ve been taught. I learn better that way. Not everyone does (maybe?) but I think that, in general, getting out a pen and paper and doing some writing is always going to help a writer get better at their craft.
The Writer’s Portable Mentor – A Guide to Art, Craft, and the Writing Life By Priscilla Long is one of my all time favorite in this category. I found her exercises to be helpful and could intuitively see how completing them would help my writing. I highly recommend this book.
Another of my all time favorite books in this category – and I book I would credit with pulling me out of a deep emotional and motivational rut – is The Artist’s Way ~ A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity by Julia Cameron. It is worth it to note that there is quite a bit of “spiritual” language in this book. I didn’t find it distracting despite my not-highly-spiritual view of the world. If you complete the 12 week course that this book lays out you will not only be a better artist or writer, you will be better at living life and enjoying it to the fullest. I cannot recommend this book enough!
If you are attempting humorous or witty writing and finding that you are dreadful at it (or good at it but want to get better) then I would recommend picking up Word Hero ~ A Fiendishly Clever Guide to Crafting the Lines That Get Laughs, Go Viral, and Live Forever by Jay Heinrichs. It has some good exercises and examples and really helps train your brain to create humor with written words.
I’ve heard great things about Writing Fiction – The Practical Guide From New York’s Acclaimed Creative Writing School. But something about the really tiny font or the fact that I bought it at the same time as a couple other writing books has meant I haven’t gotten around to trying it out. I’ve read through a few exercises though and they look fantastic. (Note to self: Read and Complete Writing Fiction)