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Write Where You Are: How to Use Writing to Make Sense of Your Life

Review

Write Where You Are: How to Use Writing to Make Sense of Your Life

This guide to writing is as meaty as a textbook and as fun as a Disneyland theme park --- it's like a guided journey into yourself. The author has learned firsthand the therapeutic value of writing and she offers an excellent guidebook to help you understand yourself better and become a healthier person through your own writing.

Whether you write in your journal to express your emotions, fears, and goals, or whether you branch out into poems, stories, or essays, writing can help you learn that you are okay. It can be your place of refuge and illumination, your comfort from the stresses and confusions of your life. You can learn who you are and what you want to do with your life through writing. As the author says of herself, "Most of all, writing brought me home. As I filled up journals, I felt my life had meaning. I felt I belonged and was welcome on the page. No one could ever take this away from me." This may well be the greatest value of writing.

In the book the author discusses how to find your favorite place to write. It may be a space in your closet, a spot under a weeping willow tree, a table in a deli, or a quiet corner at school. Writing is one of the most portable occupations --- all you really need is paper and something with which to write. Along with suggesting how to find your ideal journal and even your favorite pen, pencil, or marker, she suggests things you can write and lots of fun exercises to get you started. You can freewrite your way into ideas, brainstorm your freewriting into new ideas, cluster your brainstorming, and sort your clustering, each time going deeper into your thinking until you've developed and organized an idea. While she explains how to write stories, poems, and essays, she includes definitions of all those terms you learn in English class, like the difference between tone and voice. Not only are her explanations easy to understand, but she also pumps you up to dive into her exercises and start writing yourself.

You want something interesting to get your thinking started? Try imagining the story of Cinderella from the stepmother's point of view. What was Cinderella really like? Maybe everything wasn't all roses for her family, you know. Or try imagining yourself when you're 25. What will you look like? What will your job be? Move in your imagination to when you're 50! How will your thinking and attitudes be different? What will you know then that you wish you knew now?

I recommend this book highly. An inviting format, lots of writing examples from teens, and tons of quotes and "Did You Know?" notes in the margins make it interesting to read. And writing really is better than just thinking about a problem, because thinking keeps everything in your head but writing it down empties it out of you and onto the page, so you're free from it. You also won't forget anything because you can reread what you've written. When you see the patterns of your thinking, you might be surprised to see some solutions to your problems as well.

Reviewed by Tamara Penny on August 1, 1999

Write Where You Are: How to Use Writing to Make Sense of Your Life
by Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, Ph.D.

  • Publication Date: August 1, 1999
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Free Spirit Publishing
  • ISBN-10: 1575420600
  • ISBN-13: 9781575420608