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Showing 1-10 of 131 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 234 reviews
VINE VOICEon February 19, 2015
This is a great book about writing that generalizes to any creative endeavor in your life. Little of the advice given in the book is directly related to writing. Almost all of the advice applies equally well to any part of your life where you are held back by self-criticism, unrealistic expectations, and unclear thinking. Ueland's approach is honest and direct and inspiring.

Unfortunately, the BN Publishing edition - a print on demand service - is terrible. There are missing letters, missing words, odd line jumps, and other marks of a hasty electronic conversion.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in doing any creative work. But I would also urge you to buy a different edition.
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on May 7, 2014
Others have done a thorough job of reviewing the contents of this slim book. My review is about the context - this current BN Publishing edition could have been a gem with some care and effort. Sadly it is below par. First of all, there are many careless typos and haphazard blank lines within paragraphs throughout the book. Although this work was first published in 1938, there is no indication of its original copyright or publishing history. Apparently this publisher acquired the copyright in 2008 and cares nothing for what transpired before. Even more glaring, there is no introduction to give the contemporary reader a sense of how and why these insights have transcended time and are still important today. A short biography of the author would also have been in keeping with a book that has been around for approximately 75 years. If you purchase If You Want To Write, look into finding a different edition.
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on October 19, 2016
This is absolutely great to get you going on days where inspiration or motivation run thin. I incorporated this book into my daily routine, reading a chapter a day, since they are so short. I would say 75% of the book had great insights, while a good chunk of it was either aimless ramblings (identified as a more self-righteous, preachy approach to how to/not write) or pages of student journal entries that were absolutely not helpful.

But honestly, there are pages in this book that woke me up and moved me to write. I would buy it again and recommend to all my friends.
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on April 8, 2017
Every writer/wanna be writer should read this book!! I have read several "How to" guides for writers and this is by far the BEST! Ueland gives the perfect antidotes to several writer struggles. I MUST buy a print copy right now! It is too good not to!
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on April 15, 2017
Carl Sandburg called this book the best book on writing he had ever read. I have to agree with him. I suspect were he alive today he would still feel the same way. Anyone involved in any creative endeavor will be nourished by this book. I gave this book many years ago to my daughter in high school. She has two best sellers now and cites it as one of her great inspirations as a writer.
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on September 12, 2013
I first read this book 20 years ago - I found it inspirational then, and I find it inspirational now. I have reread it many times, and I have purchased numerous copies to give to friends as well. This book is not just a treatise on writing. It is a boisterous expose' of our spiritual and creative natures, and how these tender qualities are squashed in us as life goes along. Read this book, and reclaim the exuberance and joy that comes with the freedom to be our true selves! (Oh, and get some input on writing while you are at it...)
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on November 19, 2014
I bought this book based upon Guy Kawasaki's over the top guarantee that if you don't like it, he'll give you your money back. Considering that he is just a fan, and not the publisher, and that I'm an admirer of his writing, I bought it. I am not disappointed.

This is a charming book about creativity and doing your creative work without fear. The author is a writer so it focuses more on writing than other creative tasks, but she assures us repeatedly that her advice is universal regardless of medium.

Her writing style has charm, I don't know how else to put it, and it has the cadence of its time, the 1930's. That the book is still in print more than 70 years after its publication date says much about the universal ideas within and the quality of its expression.
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on October 19, 2011
I loved this book. Brenda stresses that writing is about telling the truth and the importance of imagination. The truth she speaks of is the writer's own truth. What is seen in the imagination. And not writing what is not seen. She judges writing based on whether she believes it and encourages writers not to add descriptions that they cannot see in their imagination. She believes imagination comes from God, though I don't consider this book religious. She abhors critics who judge but don't create. An enjoyable paradox since she critiques several pieces of writing, primarily for not being honest. She encourages free, messy, journal style writing in order find one's own voice. She addresses the concept of writer's block by saying that the creative process is slow, and encourages us to slow down, remove distractions, and listen patiently. I feel very inspired and capable to write after reading this book.
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on February 22, 2011
In my world a book like this gets two strikes against it. It's non-fiction, and falls into the category of "self-help". This should immediately tell anyone how incredible it must be if I'm still giving it five stars. In 150 pages Brenda will convince you that exploring your own creativity will be the single greatest journey you can take, and show you exactly how to get started. Though it's focused on writing, this book is really about any art form. It is a how-to manual, for being a more creative person in every regard.
I wish someone would've given this to me in high school. That time in my life when everything was about conforming, and acceptance. This book is encourages the exact opposite, and then makes you feel so comfortable about the break away. Every chapter has wisdom, not simply good information, but real wisdom like this:

"I learned that inspirations does not come like a bolt, nor is it kinetic, energetic striving, but it comes into us slowly and quietly and all the time, though we must regularly and everyday give it a little chance to start flowing, prime it with a little solitude and idleness."

"That is why most people are so afraid of being alone. For after a few minutes of unpleasant mental vacancy, the creative thoughts begin to come. And these thoughts at first are bound to be depressing because the first thing they say is: what a senseless thing life is with nothing but talk, meals, reading, uninteresting work, and listening to the radio. But that is the beginning. It is just where your imagination is leading you to see how life can be better. But if you would only persist."
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VINE VOICEon March 15, 2009
Brenda Ueland, an esteemed writing teacher, was said to have written 6 million words in her lifetime of 93 years. She said she had two rules that she absolutely followed: To tell the truth, and not to do anything she didn't want to do.
Euland's first chapter title states: "Everybody Is Talented, Original, and Has Something to Say". What a vote of confidence for the aspiring, timid writer. Every ensuing chapter contains fresh insights that will expand the mind, and stir the imagination.

She writes of lofty things. Of poetry and sonnets. Of Shakespeare, Doystoyevsky, Chekhov, and the Third Dimension. Her observations of other writers works are captivating.

When speaking of T.E Lawrence and his "Seven Pillars of Wisdom," she notes: "It is a work of genius, and the beauty of his writing has not been seen in English for a long time. I think it is because of the Third Dimension, the great personality of Lawrence behind it. Instead of him living a sedentary, literary life, polishing sentences, and cultivating a prose style, he lived a great life with supernatural standards for himself of courage, suffering, endurance, and honor. And so his book is better writing than a century of merely literary men."

Euland has a theory about him. "Lawrence seems to me like an Elizabethan Englishman, and his writing has the same quality. In Elizabeth's time, during the Renaissance, people felt that the "personality" was the important thing, not a man's ideas alone or his work."

She points out how that has changed. Today we might say "Do not pay attention to his "personality" it is his ideas that are the important thing".

The author wears many hats throughout the book. She's not only a writing teacher, but a cheerleader, mentor, history teacher, and guide. She speaks of the need for great national literature, and that it is because of the critics, the doubters (in the outer world and within ourselves) that we have such hesitancy when we write.

In the last chapter (p.160) Euland sums up her advice to the writer and artist:
1). Know that it is good to work.
2). Work with love and think of liking it when you do it.
3). It is easy and interesting.
4). It is a privilege.
5). There is nothing hard about it, but your anxious vanity and fear of
failure.
6). Try to discover your true, honest, untheoretical self.

Euland's book feels like a meditation and examination of the writing life. To me, it had a dreamy, calming quality, as if writing might be the most natural of all mankind's endeavours. Her book is a great gift for any writer or artistic person.

It is one of those gems that can be re-read and referred back to for fresh insights and encouragement when the writer is feeling discouraged and bogged down. It's a reminder that we can create beauty from our creative effort and enrich our own lives, as well as others. Very, very highly recommended!
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