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Paperback If You Want to Write Book

ISBN: 1614271356

ISBN13: 9781614271352

If You Want to Write

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Format: Paperback

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Book Overview

2011 Reprint of 1938 Edition. Full facsimile of the original edition, not reproduced with Optical Recognition Software. Ueland published two books during her life. The first was "If You Want to Write," first published in 1938. In this book, she shares her philosophies on writing and life in general. She stresses the idea that "Everyone is talented, original, and has something important to say." Drawing heavily on the work and influence of William...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

This Book Led Me to EPIPHANY

I will admit from the start that this book is not for everyone. It won't appeal to all writers and artists. However, I believe the book was written for people who are looking for a way to lead an authentic life and to achieve authenticity in their art. As with Natalie Goldberg's WRITING DOWN THE BONES, this book feels as though it was written just for me, and that's the true beauty of IF YOU WANT TO WRITE. If the book speaks to you, as it did to me, you may find yourself having the first great epiphany of your artistic life. Her book sits in a prominent place in my home and in my heart. I have read it many times and underlined countless passages. As I struggled to finish my first book, I looked to Ueland for support and confidence. By far the two most memorable passages for me are the one in which she describes a time she was playing the piano and was told her playing wasn't "going anywhere." She then discusses the relationship that MUST exist between the artist and the person experiencing the art. (Her philosophy is strongly influenced by the observations of Tolstoy.) She points out that this relationship is necessary in order for us to produce meaningful art. The second passage that is extremely meaningful to me is related to the first passage. She describes the time Vincent Van Gogh wrote a letter to his brother and drew a tender image of a streetlight that he was looking at outside his window. The drawing is beautiful because it came out of his intense love for his brother and his desire to share something beautiful with him, not from a desire for recognition or fame. This is what Ueland means by authenticity, which she, like Blake, connects to the divine source existing within each individual. This book changed forever the way I view the artistic expression.

Read it 'til you can't anymore

Read this book. Read it all the way through. You might say to yourself "this is juvenile. This is naïve." But read it. Press on. Read it thoroughly. Set your mind on "accept" and let the book be right all the time.Then, read it again. Keep reading it when you are not writing. Randomly pick a page and start. Read it out of order. Perhaps you'll find the Blake, or the Van Gogh; one of her students, or one of her tirades against the niggardly busy-busy world. Read it while watching T.V.(but not while driving a car!)Soon, you just can't read it anymore. Because it's tedious? Because you've memorized it? Because its pages are stained with finger oil and falling apart?Because you will be too damn busy furiously writing. And rewriting, then writing again. You will fear--with a creaky feeling in your gut--that a short break may jettison the idea you're blessed with off into the unexpressed void, then banish the next one, and the next one, like a home-run slugger on a roll at batting practice, all which demand permanence--because they all got that something. And you don't dare stop typing (at 75 W.P.M, with pauses of concentrated, exacting thought between) because you must, you absolutely soulfully must, capture this thought perfectly, then quickly move on to the next antsy thought tapping its toe impatiently behind, before it gets insulted and walks out to planet nowhere in a huff.So read it. And I hope you read it so much that you just don't have the time to read it anymore, and it is gathering dust while your page is gathering words.

Best Writing Book of the Century

A friend gave me this book for Christmas because he knew I liked to write and told me it was the best book for writing. I was skeptical, but started the book anyhow so I could at least tell him I looked at it. I found it immediately engaging and savored every page, limiting myself to a few pages a night so I wouldn't finish it quickly. The best part is that it is an "idea" writing book rather than an exercise book. There is no stopping to jot down notes or pages with writing exercises. Ueland gets into ideas and the psychology of why we do and don't write certain things. It got my brain churning, and I found myself become less inhibited with a project I was trying to get to the next level on. Excellent book for the experience writer who is feeling a need to break through to some fresh material. Ueland is amazingly insightful and even though it is written in 1938, it does not feel dated.


Brenda Ueland was one of my dearest friends. Her wisdom and gentle humor has sustained me through many years. If You Want to Write is an outstanding book on not only how to write but how to live fully -- with grace, joy, humor and compassion. It is "first-rate," as Brenda would say. Once you have found this book, don't let it get away from you. Keep copies handy. One year, I gave copies of the book to my family and friends for Christmas. They all loved it. It soon became one of those books that everyone must read -- for reading this book seemed to make everyone a better person. How is that? Maybe one of the reasons is because it "takes the pressure off" to be a "good writer" or a "good person." Just be who you are in an authentic and joyful way -- and you can't help but be "good." Open the book to any page, and you will find her words funny, creative, loving and truthful --thumbing her nose at all the pessimists in the world. Brenda had a delightful sense of humor. She jokingly insisted on renaming me "Countess Francesca" because, "Names are very important, and Deborah is just too stern and biblical." This was just her way with everyone -- funny, uplifting and endearing. And her book, If You Want to Write, will make you feel just as special, as if she is sitting right there with you, laughing with you and helping you every step of the way. Enjoy this women's words -- hold them in your heart. Brenda is a rare spirit. Avanti!

The book of a lifetime

I found this book by accident while browsing through a now-defunct Los Angeles bookstore/cafe. It was the luckiest accident of my life. At that point I had been a professional writer for more than twenty years, but I rarely enjoyed my work, and I felt all of it was disposable in one way or another. At first, reading "If You Want to Write" gave me an incredible, if unfamiliar, feeling of joy and self-confidence. Afterwards, I began to surprise the hell out of myself in terms of what I was able to accomplish. This simply written book states some of the most profound truths about life and creativity I have ever read. Whenever I get stuck on a project I go back and re-read it, and its warmth, generosity, and brilliance always inspire me to go on. It should almost be titled "If You Want to Live", because far more than being a how-to book on writing, it makes an eloquent argument that we all can live creative lives as long as we're true to ourselves.
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