I just finished reading a very interesting book. “If You Want to Write” by Brenda Ueland says right on the cover that it’s about art, independence and spirit. The first edition was published in 1938 and this second edition that I just finished was re-published by her estate in the 80’s. She published six million words in her 93 year life. I wonder how many she wrote that weren’t published.
There were several things about this book that fascinated me. Reading something written by a woman in the 1930’s that I could identify with almost 70 years later was intriguing. I was reminded that regardless of the era in which we live, we humans are all the same. We feel the same things deep in the depths of our souls. We laugh. We cry. We fear. We grieve.
Brenda tells the reader how important it is to discover your true self and to allow that to come out in your writing. So many writers, she says, write from a false place. That their ‘voice’ comes a theoretical place, who they think they should be instead of who they actually are. When we hide from our ‘truth’, we sound false. Readers don’t believe what they read, because the writer doesn’t believe it themselves.
She begins by saying that everyone is “talented, original and has something important to say”. Finding the true self unlocks creativity and talent. But she warns against trying too hard to be honest, because that will come across in their writing. Spending time alone and allowing yourself to think and ponder allows access to the authentic self.
Two rules that she followed were to tell the truth and not do anything she didn’t want to do. Those sound like pretty good rules to live by.