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Writing to Change the World English Language Edition

46 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1594489204
ISBN-10: 1594489203
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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."
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“[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.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 236 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead Books; English Language edition (April 20, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594489203
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594489204
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #809,029 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

79 of 81 people found the following review helpful By Lhea J. Love on April 24, 2006
Format: Hardcover
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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36 of 36 people found the following review helpful By E.M. Bristol VINE VOICE on October 30, 2006
Format: Hardcover
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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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Julie Jordan Scott on June 28, 2006
Format: Hardcover
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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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Nina Bennett on June 17, 2006
Format: Hardcover
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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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Cathe VINE VOICE on 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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