If You Want to Write by Brenda Ueland

There are many books about writing. Authors both famous and mediocre have churned out many manuscripts promising the reader that upon completion of their instructions they will be able to compose wonderful tracts of adventure and intrigue. In this sub-genre there are many styles. From concise to not-so concise, the format for writing has gone through several iterations. If we are to label Brenda’s work than we can say that it would fall into the not-so concise category.

This isn’t because Ms. Ueland’s work is unsatisfactory. On the contrary it is an enjoyable romp through the ups and downs of writing. I say it is “not-so concise” because Brenda, unlike many modern authors, focused more on the psychological aspects of writing than the technical.

What I mean by this is that you will not find detailed instructions on how to articulate plots, and to structure themes. Instead Brenda Ueland encourages her audience to write “freely and courageously” and shun neat and trim rough drafts; better to save the planning for later, once all the content has been placed on paper. She talks of how one should not be discouraged over rejection slips and how everyone can write (if they so try). Indeed she zeros in on techniques that are simple and practical: minor exploration of the “Third-Dimension”, writing simply and honestly, and not being affected by the roundabout musings of critics.

It is all very metaphysical. The author embraces a strange entrancing to “higher powers” and repeatedly references such in her explanations. This does not mean it is a tiresome script but simply that she is clearly mired in her time’s frenzied support for supernatural edicts.

For readers looking for a “How To” guide on writing, on the specifics of plot, themes, and constructions, this book is not for you. It lacks most of this. This book is for those who are searching for an uplifting primer, something which might inspire them to ride over the mental hurdles of writing. I can safely say that is helped me but with that being said it is more apt to mention that this book should be read in accompany with another book which focuses more on the actual mechanics of writing. Taken together I think many inspiring writers will be greatly helped.

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One comment

  1. Sounds great. I think I will check it out. Weirdly, I love reading books on writing in hopes that they will make me want to write whenever I find it hard to do.

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