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Writing to Change the World [Hardcover]

by Mary Pipher
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)

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Book Description

April 20, 2006 1594489203 978-1594489204 1st ptg
In these tumultuous times, don't we all want to be heard? Who doesn't want to transform the world? And who doesn't harbor a secret ambition to write? Writing to Change the World is intended to help people who have a message they're passionate about to convey it clearly through writing. Inspired by a course of the same name that Mary Pipher taught at the University of Nebraska's National Summer Writers' Conference, this book encapsulates her years of experience as a writer and therapist, as well as her extensive knowledge of the craft of writing.

Writing to Change the World combines practical instruction with inspirational commentary, featuring personal anecdotes, memorable quotations from other writers, practical how-to advice, and stories about writers who have transformed society through their work. In addition to laying out the various steps of the writing process-brainstorming, writing, revising, and publishing-Pipher gives advice about specific forms of advocacy writing: op-ed pieces, letters, essays, speeches, and blogs. She inspires readers to take up their pens, while reflecting on the writer's responsibilities as a moral agent. This is a book that really can make a difference!

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this very personal writing guide, Pipher talks about the importance of point of view in writing, and she has a definite point of view here, tilting to the left: the world is in a bad way, and writers can serve as a "rescue team for our tired, overcrowded planet" by "tell[ing] stories that connect readers to all the people on earth." Pipher offers some good examples of how to accomplish this, particularly in a thoughtful and clever essay that presents the U.S. as a patient in a therapeutic case study ("Diagnosis: Post-traumatic stress disorder, multiple addictions"). And she offers useful advice in her sections on defining success (measured not in terms of sales but in terms of "giv[ing] our time and talents to help others") and revising, which she compares to pruning and weeding. There are dozens of pithy and inspiring quotes from a variety of writers, among them Woody Allen, Joan Didion and Eudora Welty. Those, along with Pipher's chipper you-can-do-it tone, will encourage idealistic aspiring writers, who will surely find inspiration in her assertion that writing can heal the world. (Apr.)Correction: Our review of Gary Schwartz's The G.O.D. Experiments (Reviews, Feb. 13) should have read, "Chance rather than order is the exception to the rule in the universe."
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


“[Pipher] offers useful advice…[This] will encourage idealistic aspiring writers, who will surely find inspiration in her assertion that writing can change the world.”
Publishers Weekly 

“[Pipher] brings astute analogies from her career as a therapist to the problem of how to begin writing.”
Library Journal  
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 236 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead Books; 1st ptg edition (April 20, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594489203
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594489204
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.7 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #442,217 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Mary Pipher, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist and author of The Shelter of Each Other: Rebuilding our Families and Another Country: Navigating the Emotional Terrain of our Elders. Awarded the American Psychological Association's Presidential Citation, Pipher speaks across the country to families, mental health professionals, and educators, and has appeared on Today, 20/20, The Charlie Rose Show, PBS Newshour with Jim Lehrer, and National Public Radio's Fresh Air.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
73 of 74 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One "Baldwin Millimenter" at a Time April 24, 2006
Deep down, all writers aspire to be what Mary Pipher calls "Change Writers". Mary Pipher gets to the heart, the root of why we write. Whether we are 'liberal' or 'conservative', republican or democrat, athiest or 'fundamentalist', we write because we understand that we can influence people with our words.

This is not a book on "How to Write". This is not even a book of inspiration for curing "Writer's Block". This is a book that brings to light the things which the heart of every writer knows, yet often forgets.

Pipher separates her book into three sections, "What We Alone Can Say", "The Writing Process" and "Calls to Action". I found "What We Alone Can Say" and "Calls to Action" to be the most insightful and original. I was actually debating whether I liked the book while reading the center section. But, Pipher pulled through. The irony is that she includes a Mickey Spillane quote that says, "Nobody reads a book to get to the middle." I wonder if Pipher struggled with the center section herself.

If you want a book on how to write, or a book for inspiration, pick up Write Down the Bones. Pipher also recommends this book in a thorough list of Recommended Readings. If you are a writer, a performer, a blogger or a poet who is trying to figure out how to make a difference, pick up Pipher's book.

I have found that many of my most treasured books begin with a James Baldwin quote. Pipher chooses, "You write in order to change the world, knowing perfectly well that you probably can't, but also knowing that literature is indispensable to the world... The world changes according to the way people see it, and if you alter, even by a millimeter, the way... people look at reality, then you can chage it.
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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars unique voice October 30, 2006
Despite some preachiness at the start, which may turn off those readers who are not "bleeding heart liberals," this is an outstanding book. I mistakenly thought it was a more traditional how-to guide for people who wished to write better with an eye toward getting published. Instead, and I didn't mind the error, it is a book on writing effectively with an eye toward yes, changing the world.

Some of the autobiography and personal philosophy will be familiar to readers of Pipher's books. She didn't begin to write until after having children, having been put off by a teacher who returned a poem with "Trite" on it. Thank goodness, she didn't let that permanently stop her.

One section that you won't find in other writers' guides is on letters to public officials. Having edited thousands of letters to the editor, I thought I knew everything there was to know about composing one. I was wrong. There is also a section on public speaking, which is invaluable for writers who intend to read their work publicly.

As another reviewer pointed out, the tone is strongly optimistic, and readers will come away feeling refreshed and energized. The book even inspired me to check out some of the articles and movies referenced, a rarity for me.
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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
I knew any book with this title would have at least one item of merit within its pages. I found gold immediately - in the recommended readings section. Pipher provided the perfect place to start the quest for my next trip to the library and book store.

There are several things I value highly about Pipher's work in this book.

First, she has an incredibly strong writing voice that literally says, "I am strong and confident AND I am confident enough to use my own shortcomings as examples."

Second, she gives a lot of information coupled with clear, concrete examples. She then hits a home run by explaining the ways you may choose to apply the same technique.

Third, she peppers the book with incredibly insightful quotes, each of which provides even more food for thought.

This is a book I will use again and again and again. I hope many live changing souls find it and use it again and again and again. I have started recommending it to people - perhaps you are another one of them!
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring and practicial September 11, 2006
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Writing to Change the World is divided into two sections.

1) "What We Alone Can Say" addresses why we write and how our unique experiences can give us a different perspective and voice that no one else has. This section is both inspirational and motivating.

2) "The Writing Process" gets down to the nuts and bolts. What are the most effective ways of relating to people - especially those whose opinions we are hoping to change. Pipher addresses the writing process and different genres of writing, including letters, personal essays, speeches, blogs, music and poetry.

Also included is a comprehensive list of recommended reading.

Mary Piphers experience as both a writer and a therapist give her insight on how words can be used to motivate change. This book was inspiring as Pipher illustrates how words have been and can be used to really make a difference in the world. I found her insights very helpful and her practical advice useful.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An invigorating read June 17, 2006
I purchased this book based on the title alone. The more I read, the more I underlined, the more frequently I exclaimed "Yes, that's it." Mary Pipher's book speaks to my soul, it speaks to all of the reasons I write, it validates my firm belief in the transformative power of words. Her writing is passionate and persuasive without being preachy. Several times I put the book down and grabbed my ever-present writing notebook. As I neared the end, I slowed my reading down, re-reading sections, reluctant to be finished with a book that has become a wonderful friend.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Thanks to This Book, Writing To Change The World Is My New Goal.
(Even if only the small part of the world that is my community. It is so inspiring and full of very useful information on how to do it. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Maryellen Grady
1.0 out of 5 stars A shallow book strangled by political correctness and coming to the...
Consists of too many personal anecdotes and reads like an autobiography of her writing experience. It also encourages a misuse of context and/or the deceptive use of only part of... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Abraham Phillips
5.0 out of 5 stars A must if you got something to say and want people to listen
Does your writing stir emotion?

Are you a tree hugger? Or worried about the earth, the air, the water?

Worried about unfair Politics. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Dog Brindle
4.0 out of 5 stars writing guide
Interesting guide for writing your opinions, ,letters, essaysin a readable format with a decidedly 'start where you are' outlook. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Carol Wright
4.0 out of 5 stars goog
everything was what the description said. it has all the material in it i need. and it meets the requirements for my course.
Published 14 months ago by Mathew
5.0 out of 5 stars inspirational
The book to put in in simple words .... is inspirational... I can do it... I can say it ... I can change the world. Saving the world one drop, one work at at a time.
Published 17 months ago by Thistle Hill
5.0 out of 5 stars Writing to Change the World by Mary Pipher
I'm teaching a class regarding how to write in English adults for whom English is their second language. Ms. Read more
Published 23 months ago by Michael A. Maynard
5.0 out of 5 stars Improving your writing
This author does an exceptional job of inspiring readers to try new things to improve their writings. It compels me to be more daring and creative.
Published on April 19, 2012 by Judy G
3.0 out of 5 stars Some Good Tips for Many
I bought this book because I was desperate for something to read and it was $1.00 in a close out sale. I don't often buy "how-to" books. Read more
Published on April 19, 2012 by ReadsALot
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fabulous Book for All Writers
I fell in love with this book in the first ten pages. It's doubly good because Dr. Pipher is a therapist as well as a writer. Read more
Published on January 22, 2012 by Elizabethcmorgan
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