review: If You Want To Write

by Barbara Ueland

every once in a while you come across a book that makes you wonder how you survived your whole life without it. If You Want To Write is just such a book.

you would expect a book with this title to help you be a better writer. what you wouldn't expect is that it not only does just that, but it makes you want to be a better person as well! in one chapter she says just this...
...i have come to think that the only way to become a better writer is to become a better person. {p. 117}
she writes of such authors as tolstoy, blake, and goethe, saying...
their writing, their art is merely a by-product, a cast-off creation of a great personality. and that is why i think we should all, great and small, be creating all the time, casting off our works but forgetting them, and looking always toward the work ahead. for only by seeing that our creations are vulgar and mean can we see what our souls are, and then, by our imagination, see how to be better. {p. 117}
the author had a serious crush on russian writers, quoting Chekhov and Dostoevsky and others numerous times, has caused me to add their works to my reading list.

even though the book was originally published in 1938, it in no way felt dated. sure, there were some places that were a little odd, especially when she quotes from some of her student's writing, but never once did it lose my attention or feel at all awkward.

i was truly sad to turn the last page of the book. i could have easily read the book had it been three times as long. and not only was i saddened by finishing the book, i actually feel a loss that i will never get a chance to meet this brilliant woman.

so, if you want to write, become a better person, or create better art, whatever your art may be, i highly recommend you pick up this gem. don't waste any more time before you get it into your library.

{book 2 of 75}


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