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Writing Your Life: Putting Your Past on Paper Paperback – December 1, 1996


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Writing Your Life: Putting Your Past on Paper + Writing the Memoir: From Truth to Art, Second Edit + Your Life as Story
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; First Edition edition (December 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0380786257
  • ISBN-13: 978-0380786251
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.4 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #903,062 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Lou Willett Stanek, a novelist, critic, and teacher, practices what she preaches. She bases her workshops on the theory described in this book. Dr. Stanek earned a Ph.D. at the University of Chicago, an M.A. at Northwestern, and a B.A. from Eastern Illinois University. She also served as a trustee at Millikin University. A Midwesterner, Dr. Stanek now lives in New York and teaches writing at The New School of Social Research.

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Customer Reviews

She gives the new writer a way to begin by writing a memoir.
Gloria E. Salavarria (skaggs@michiana.org)
I read her book all the way through without putting it down, it was so much fun dredging up memories.
Harvey L. Gardner (bbsco@earthlink.net)
I would recommend this book to anyone who is in the process or thinking of writing his/her memoirs.
Slipper City

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Harvey L. Gardner (bbsco@earthlink.net) on July 20, 1998
Format: Paperback
We all have memories of people, places, and events in our lives others would enjoy reading about. My problem all these years has been finding a starting place. Dr. Stanek solved the problem for me, and I recommend you let her solve it for you. I read her book all the way through without putting it down, it was so much fun dredging up memories. I have pages and pages of notes about people, places, things, pets, adventures, embarrassments, and other fun things to write about--all from reading this little book. I'm now starting over and doing her exercises. What fun! Your children and their children and their children will bless you for writing your life stories. And you'll feel good about yourself too. Read this book soon!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Gloria E. Salavarria (skaggs@michiana.org) on February 15, 1998
Format: Paperback
The first speech given by every novice before a Toastmasters's group is to talk about oneself. Having oneself as a topic is the easiest assignment, the perfect ice-breaker to help overcome first time jitters. The same can be said of the memoir. First time writers often don't know where, or how, to begin. As with all good teachers--Lou Willett Stanek gives the student/reader permission to begin. She eases the would-be writer through self-doubt. She explains the difference between autobiography and memoir. She gives the new writer a way to begin by writing a memoir. This book is a good place to start learning the joy of writing.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've read uncountable memoirs and books on writing memoirs, so have a basis for my judgement. After spending 10 years writing a memoir An Island In Time: Growing up in the 1940s, I continued reading how to write memoirs, and came upon Dr. Stanek's "Writing Your Life: Putting your past on paper." I liked the organization of the book, not spending a lot of time with how to write a memoir (although there are many good tips not to be ignored), but gleaning topics I could write about.
I didn't rush through the book, rather jotting down topics not addressed in my first memoir. I then finished a second memoir - An Island In Time II: Coming of age in the 1950's. Soon after writing this book, a publisher of pictorial history books contracted me to write Fox Island (Images of America: Washington).
Lou Stanek not only got me going in penning my second memoir, but I'm currently in the process of writing a third concerning my career as a teacher.
I usually sell my used books on writing after reading them; however, "Writing Your Life" remains in my library and I still check out its pages for inspiration.
In the first chapter Dr. Stanek says,"You have had an interesting, distinctive life, but who will know? think about your heirs. Family history ranks high as a legacy. My intention in "Writing Your Life" is to sort out the jumble of pain, pleasure, accomplishments and regrets you have accumulated."
Even if you don't plan on writing a book, get your life on paper.
Read more ›
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By ColorOrange on May 22, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I got my penny plus shipping/handling worth out of this book. While Dr. Stanek maybe wordy she is very creative with her word usage. I was able follow her except until I got to the end of chapter 17, I nearly forgot what she was talking about. She gave a lot of ideas often triggered my memory that I stopped reading to write.

I wouldn't consider this a reference book but one to provide inspiration and to get the juices flowing.
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This small book was helpful and informative in writing my memoir. I will keep it for reference as it did have some good points in it. Easy reading.
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By Lorraine Sane on January 22, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I wanted this book to have more especially after reading the reviews.

It was good and yet at times too wordy. I wanted it to be more to the point and less about the author and her life experiences. The manner in which Dr. Stanek's own life was presented could have been less complicated. I did not care for how it was interwoven into the chapters. At times it lacked clarity.

The exercises were good but could have been better.

I have learned more about writing memoirs through reading them.
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