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If You Want To Write

If You Want To Write

4.2 25
by Brenda Ueland

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2011 Reprint of 1938 Edition. Full facsimile of the original edition, not reproduced with Optical Recognition Software. Ueland published two books during her life. The first was "If You Want to Write," first published in 1938. In this book, she shares her philosophies on writing and life in general. She stresses the idea that "Everyone is talented, original, and has


2011 Reprint of 1938 Edition. Full facsimile of the original edition, not reproduced with Optical Recognition Software. Ueland published two books during her life. The first was "If You Want to Write," first published in 1938. In this book, she shares her philosophies on writing and life in general. She stresses the idea that "Everyone is talented, original, and has something important to say." Drawing heavily on the work and influence of William Blake, she suggests that writers should "Try to discover your true, honest, un-theoretical self." She sums up her book with 12 points to keep in mind while writing. Carl Sandburg called "If You Want to Write" the best book ever written on how to write.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Ueland argues that anyone can write well once the imagination is freed from self-consciousness, anxiety and fear of failure. This is a fresh and vivid approach to creative endeavors. (April)

Product Details

Martino Fine Books
Publication date:
Edition description:
New Edition
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.43(d)

Read an Excerpt

If You Want to Write

A Book About Art, Independence and Spirit
By Brenda Ueland

Graywolf Press

Copyright © 1987 Estate of Brenda Ueland
All right reserved.

ISBN: 1-55597-260-8

Chapter One

Yes, it has made me like working to see that writing is not a performance but a generosity.

I find that I wrote this to someone three years ago:

"Forgive me, but perhaps you should write again. I think there is something necessary and life-giving about 'creative work' (forgive the term). A state of excitement. And it is like a faucet: nothing comes unless you turn it on, and the more you turn it on, the more comes.

"It is our nasty twentieth century materialism that makes us feel: what is the use of writing, painting, etc., unless one has an audience or gets cash for it? Socrates and the men of the Renaissance did so much because the rewards were intrinsic, i.e., the enlargement of the soul.

"Yes, we are all thoroughly materialistic about such things. 'What's the use?' we say, of doing anything unless you make money or get applause? for when a man is dead he is dead.' Socrates and the Greeks decided that a man's life should be devoted to 'the tendance of the Soul' (Soul included intelligence, imagination, spirit, understanding, personality) for the soul lived eternally, in all probability.

"I think it is all right to work for money, to work to have things enjoyed by people, even very limited ones; but the mistake is to feel that the work, the effort, the search is not the important and the exciting thing. One cannot strive to write a cheap, popular story without learning more about cheapness. But enough. I may very well be getting to raving."

And so now I have established reasons why you should work from now on until you die, with real love and imagination and intelligence, at your writing or whatever work it is that you care about. If you do that, out of the mountains that you write some mole hills will be published. Or you may make a fortune and win the Nobel Prize. But if nothing is ever published at all and you never make a cent, just the same it will be good that you have worked.



Excerpted from If You Want to Write by Brenda Ueland Copyright © 1987 by Estate of Brenda Ueland. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

BRENDA UELAND (1891?1985) spent many years living in New York, where she was part of the Greenwich Village bohemian crowd. She received an international swimming record for over-eighty-year-olds and was knighted by the King of Norway.

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If You Want To Write 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 25 reviews.
Andy_Thornton More than 1 year ago
I love this book, it's very inspirational and has induced me to write again. Writing has become a joy and not a chore and I hate the times when I don't get to write. This book is a must read for anyone who feels they need to be more creative and self doubt holds you back.
Mrs_Gilpin More than 1 year ago
I checked out this book from my local library and bought my own version right after I returned it. It may have been published in the 30's but you would be silly to dismiss a good read just because it is old. Inspiration is never outdated.
MKM11 More than 1 year ago
The author, a lifelong writer, journalist, and writing teacher, has written a cheerleading book on how to find your authentic voice as a writer, and, by extension, how to live an authentic life in whatever you do. But I found her style annoying, repetitive, disjointed, and surprisingly unengaging. Occasional sparks of erudition emerge here and there. But one can get the essence of the book by reading its final few pages.
Alyssa2010 More than 1 year ago
I first read this enthralling book in a creative writing class at Texas A&M University. As it was a required text, I had little hope that it would be applicable to more than my personal writing skills. Therefore, I was pleasantly surprised by the author's unique musings on not only writing, but on life. Ueland does not bore the reader with stale writing exercises; instead she urges the reader to become 'idle' by taking the time to let thoughts flow freely and form completely. She explains that without this 'idle' thought process one's writing will be bland and meaningless. She insist that everyone has a story to tell, which she demonstrates through excerpts from her students' writings. She describes in detail what she believes to be the imagination, as well as what she believes stifles it. The entire book is a series of Ueland's creative perspectives, which I found captivating. I will reference this book in the future not only when writing, but also when searching for ways I can become more passionate about life.
Jess88sanmiguel More than 1 year ago
This book was one of the textbooks required for my ENGL 235 creative writing class. The more I read it the more I become inspired to be a better writer. To try harder in the way I live my life and to have an outlook on life that inspires people. Brenda Ueland manages to convey, in writing, all the necessary tools one most posses to become a well rounded and well respected writer. I would read this book even if I had no desire to be a writer because her writing is just pure inspiration for everyday life. It is a great book and I applaud my professor for recommending such a book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I learned a lot from this book. It's wonderful. Brenda's voice shines through the pages so vividly, I feel I heard her rather than read. Wish she was still alive, I'd love to contact her.
7678451 More than 1 year ago
Excellent book!! Very good advice! I've always wanted to write a book and this book has given me the confidence to do it!! And I'm loving the process and I'm learning so much!! Not only great writing advice but great advice for life regarding being yourself!!
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janett0 More than 1 year ago
Brenda Ueland’s book: If You Want to Write, supports reality writing. From pupils thoughts, adventures, failures, rages, villainies and nobilities; they’re encouraged to write what is seen, for their writing to come alive through description. Creativity is directed with the technique of first understanding what is learned instantly. Or by linking following contemplation to understand the first at that time. This allows working creative power to flow and reinforce without time consuming repetition. She gives different examples of this process, and when to notice different ideas. She advises writing (as in drafts) and then knowing what is needed to change, adapt, cut, and expand a story. She increases creativity and imagination without boundaries, in examples of herself and students. Her technique can help in the writing exchange with readers. From awareness in writing to publishing a book she explains how not to be daunted by the written expression of others.
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bluenotes More than 1 year ago
I'm glad to see this book still in print. Its one of my staples; a part of my writing roots. My creative writing professor made it required reading. This book is permanent in my library and filled with notes, underlines, highliter, and dog eared pages.
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PenandBrush More than 1 year ago
Barbara teaches by example that less is indeed more! An easy, quick and very engaging read that compels one to not get bogged down with verbosity. I dreaded writing before reading this book, yet was compelled to write because I had things to say. I now cannot wait to write! She's taught me how to "color" with few words, drawing the reader in with ease to "feel" my writing. I think good writing makes you forget you're reading. This book does just that, and it aims to compel you to accomplish the same in your writing! GREAT BOOK I first read years ago and look forward to picking up again after lending to a friend who asked to pass on to another.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book that I have read is called a deadly game of magic. The book is a really got book for people of almost every age to read. It has a little magic in it and lots of cool settings.The main people in the book are Bo,Lisa,and the Magic Man.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I had read this book about a year ago and yet I refer back to it regularly. This book is full of inspiration. Ueland defines the reasoning behind letting go and writting what simply feels right. This book brought me to realize the importance of useing talents to show others and to think of others when useing my talents. After all the joy is in the journey an the results are secondary.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book grabs you by the shoulders and makes you sit upright and realize what is inside of you. It helps you realize what you can do for yourself by releasing your writing grimlins.
Nigel_Logan More than 1 year ago
First published in 1938, it may have spoke volumes. Today, it simply isn't relevant--pure babble. I'll never buy another e-book with out first sniffing the sample.