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A journal of items that I am reading/ have read: a personal commitment for 2008
#565528 added March 8, 2008 at 4:05pm
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Write From Life/ Meg Files
Write From Life: Turning your personal experiences into compelling stories
Files, Meg
Writer's Digest Books
Cincinatti, Ohio
Cover art for book/article journal

(Completed 3/7/08)

This is a book I would recommend to anyone specializing in writing personal narratives or who might be having diffculty writing from the inside out. Letting go and writing what I really would like to say has become a real personal problem for me as a writer, hence my choice of this book. Can't really say what caused me to purchase it while on one of my Barnes and Noble runs. It must have been the book jacket blurb and the mood I was in, but I'm glad that I followed my mind last summer when I picked it up.

Yes, it took me a while to finally get around to reading it. I'm an admitted procrasinator. "If My Name was a Verb

The book is set up so that the reader can skip around and read the parts that apply to a particular concern. I opted to read through on the first pass. Now I'm going back to review the parts on which I really need to focus. Files has assigned each of the nine chapters a unique name, but underneath each chapter title is a subheading that explains what is contained within that section, making it easy to pick and choose.

The chapters that were most useful to me were Chapter One, "Truthtelling" and Chapter Two, "Facing Down the Monsters". Both dealt with recognizing the things that hold me back from writing it exactly how I'm feeling it. I worry too much about being seen through and about hurting someone I love with what I have to say. It has been inhibiting to my growth as a writer. I appreciated what Files had to say on these two topics, which to me, can be broken down to "Just do it".

While that is the basic message of the whole book, in each section, she provides doable actiivities to facilitate the advice she gives. It has been my experience with some how-to writing books that while good advice might have been given, the practice exercises provided were too abstract for me to do on my own without having someone else there to assaure me I had "done it right". For the most part, I found Files' practice activities easy and fun and of a nature that allowed me to critique myself or at least to feel as if I had stretched my writing muscles. The activities I chose to complete were also immediately applicable to my personal writing.

The last chapter, "Knowing What's True" deals with methods for reviewing other writers' work. I would highly recommend this chapter alone for reviewers on this site or any writing review forum. Files provides very practical advice and sound objective techniques for constructive reviewing. After reading this chapter, I came away with a clearer sense of what I should be doing, looking for, and commenting on when reading for the purpose of providing feedback. Using the techniques that she suggests, I can more clearly see how effective, thorough reviewing can have the added effect of improving my own writing.

Write from Life is definitely a book I will be keeping at hand, not putting up on the shelf. I can see myself consulting these pages time and again for writing practice as well as for motivation and inspiration.

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