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Naked, Drunk, and Writing: Shed Your Inhibitions and Craft a Compelling Memoir or Personal Essay

4.11  ·  Rating Details ·  301 Ratings  ·  36 Reviews
The material is right there in front of you. You’ve known yourself for, well, a lifetime—and you finally feel ready to share your story with the world. Yet when it actually comes time to put pen to paper, you find that you’re stumped.
Enter Adair Lara: award-winning author, seasoned columnist, beloved writing coach, and the answer to all of your autobiographical quandaries
Paperback, 258 pages
Published August 31st 2010 by Ten Speed Press (first published April 1st 2009)
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(showing 1-30)
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May 12, 2011 Nicky rated it really liked it
Shelves: wordy, 2011
The bottom line: Writing a memoir is just like writing a novel, only you don’t have to make anything up.

I subtracted one star for her weird gender bullshit. (I would have subtracted two, but it all takes place on one page and afterwards it's never heard from again.)

She says that men don't like to share their work during the drafting process. She doesn't even say some men. Many people have asked me to read their works-in-progress, and most of them have been men. But she says, "This is how men op
A. T. Adlen
Jun 21, 2011 A. T. Adlen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm "finished" reading it, but I don't think I'll ever be finished reading it. That's what I love about instructional non-fiction, so many gems to keep you coming back! I have every page dog-eared practically, especially the ones with the "try this" exercises.

This book has me writing up a storm and I highly recommend it.
Mar 27, 2017 Eve rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the best book that I've ever read on how to write - period, whether it is a memoir or a personal essay - it doesn't matter. Adair Lara gets it, and knows how to communicate her wisdom to would-be writers. Well-formatted, easy to read, and inspiring - a must-read for anyone who writes or wants to write!
Mar 16, 2012 Nilchance rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Gender issues: "All women are like BLAH BLAH. All men are like BLAH BLAH."

Psychology issues: "don't be a victim; don't ever say you're in therapy; if you have a theraputic insight, write it as coming from a talk with a friend or a sister." Because why? Author bias, apparently, since there's no reason given for this find and replace your therapist advice. Books like Hornbacher's Mania and Wasted, the Prozac Diaries, and Girl, Interrupted are classic memoirs that prove there is an audience for me
Mar 21, 2011 Glenda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the best writing coaching books that I've read. Thorough, concise and often humorous, Adair Lara gives helpful and very usable advice on producing your own memoirs, journals and essays. Full of tips that may seem common-place, but that we somehow miss when it comes to writing: "Having trouble figuring out where to begin? You don't have to start writing at the beginning, that part may come later." Very helpful advice for me as I can let the 'beginning' keep me from ever writing anything.

Mar 07, 2011 Sundry rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lara gives practical writing advice with a sure and witty voice. The book helped me get out of my own way. A fun read from an author who treats her readers as peers.

It only took me so long to read because I like to have a good writing book to dip into now and again, and I didn't want this one to end.
D. Thrush
May 28, 2017 D. Thrush rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What to do if you’re clothed, sober, and stuck staring at a blank word document… I read this book because I’m editing an autobiography. I write fiction but I still found value for my own writing. This book will help anyone focus on writing a good essay or memoir: how much detail to give, how to write in a compelling way, what will draw in the reader. I always thought reading about writing wasn’t helpful until I read some good books about it. This is one of them, especially if you’re writing a me ...more
May 26, 2017 Kim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fun and instructive look at writing.
Feb 16, 2017 Ashley rated it it was amazing
Not even really sure how I first came across this book- like...why I was even browsing books about writing technique in the first place, but for some reason I decided to grab this, and I'm happy I did.

I used to write a lot. Not exactly sure when/how/why that changed, but I haven't written anything in ages. I'm in a pretty weird season of life where things are changing (or need to change) and I need to figure out how everything is fitting together. Writing seems like a natural thing to do right
Mar 21, 2015 Sue rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have been writing essays and memoir for decades, but I have never found a book or a teacher that made the process so incredibly clear. It comes at a perfect time for me as I struggle to figure out what to do with almost 800 pages of journals I’m trying to turn into a memoir. Now, thanks to this book, I know how. Lara, a longtime columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle and author of 13 books, as well as a popular teacher and writing coach, has packed this book with information that will help ...more
V. Gingerich
Helpful, inspiring, and funny, this was by far the best writing help book I've read. Okay, I've read maybe three, so I guess that's not saying much, but let me just say- I feel like writing now and I haven't had that feeling for a few months.

My favorite chapter was Chapter 11- "What Goes in and What Doesn't"- with its handy lists of questions and practical tips.

And by the way, the title is to catch your eye and has nothing to do with the content. Or the reader.
Oct 29, 2011 Kristin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: teaching
A great text for beginners in creative nonfiction, though I would prefer a little more about the personal essay, as opposed to the memoir. Easy to understand, not condescending, well-organized and explained, and practical. In my experience, students often sell back creative writing textbooks (the didactic--not novels, memoirs, books of poetry, etc.), but think most students would hold onto this book after the class is over.
Antoinette Perez
Probably a great partner to Moore's "Crafting the Personal Essay." Moore's book was more about form and technicality. This book helped more with emotion, tone, and heart. I flew pretty quickly through the sections on memoir, since that isn't on my to-do list, but cover to cover, I still found a lot of good direction for my work.
Jul 09, 2011 Porcelain72 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Funny, inspiring book about writing personal essays and memoirs. Although some of her advice is easier said than done ("write every day even if you're not in the mood"), overall it offers excellent tips on the process from beginning to getting it published. Very straightforward without any woo woo "embrace the spirit within you" faux artistic mysticism.
Michelle Farinella
Jun 22, 2013 Michelle Farinella rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A readable how-to text on personal narrative and memoir. Many things you have already heard, but in fresh spunky language and with motivational context. Maybe the kick that your ass has been looking for?
Jennifer Louden
Feb 21, 2014 Jennifer Louden rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really useful nuts and bolts book on writing memoir and personal essay. Funny with clear, useful examples from the author's writing life. Pair with The Memoir Project by Marion Roach Smith and you will be doing great.
Denisen Hartlove
Cannot say enough about what a great book on writing this is! Funny stories, good writing exercises, and valuable advice make this book a must-have for any writer, whether thoselonging to be published for the first time or reading on the plane while on way to accept Pulitzer!
Naked, Drunk and Writing is the first in a lengthy list of books loaded upon my Nook intended to enhance my writing skills. I found a ideas as well as exercises to spark the creative spirit. I felt the author was a little condescending. Perhaps she was naked, drunk and writing.
Dec 21, 2015 Fee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
clear, very helpful instructions about writing. I was making notes while reading just to make sure I wouldn't forget the tips that resonated most to me.
Highly recommended.
Only comment I have is that I didn't always like the examples. Some pieces were too long and felt as an interruption.
David Kent
Focused on writing personal essays and memoirs, the book provides both inspiring anecdote and useful information. A bit uneven in the writing but definitely worth the read. An appendix includes many writing prompts and exercises that should be valuable to most writers.
Carole A.
Jan 03, 2011 Carole A. is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone wanting to let it all hang out with writing their personal memoirs or essays.
Recommended to Carole A. by: It had me at hello.
Absolutely LOVE the title! Dug into this one last night, and it's on its way to becoming a fave of mine.
Victoria Costello
Adair is great on humor and pep talk. This is some of her best stuff. Read it if you want to get a poke with some fun.
Jan 02, 2011 Natalie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I liked this book, it makes me think she would be a good person to take a workshop from.
Feb 26, 2013 Katrinkarose rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Presents the information in a clear yet entertaining way. One of the best essay how-tos I've read.
Feb 10, 2016 Margie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A must read for journals. Lots of great tips and prompts.
Sue Bridehead (A Pseudonym)
She makes a writing career as an essayist or memoirist seem easy and doable.
Marcia A
A little bit more than I cared to learn about writing a memoir, but I liked the information on structure of an essay. Who knew there had to be an epiphany, even in a short essay?
Nov 03, 2010 Stephanie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting guide to writing and publishing personal essays and memoir.
Feb 19, 2011 Carol rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Awesome reference book for writers. I bought it on my iPad but plan to buy the hard copy, it's that good.
girl writing
Very good and helpful procedural about writing a memoir. Examples from authors writing students did a good job illustrating her advice.
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  • Handling the Truth: On the Writing of Memoir
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  • Shimmering Images: A Handy Little Guide to Writing Memoir
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  • The Faith of a Writer: Life, Craft, Art
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  • Chapter After Chapter: Discover the Dedication & Focus You Need to Write the Book of Your Dreams

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“You can’t just come out and say what you have to say. That’s what people do on airplanes, when a man plops down next to you in the aisle seat of your flight to New York, spills peanuts all over the place (back when the cheapskate airlines at least gave you peanuts), and tells you about what his boss did to him the day before. You know how your eyes glaze over when you hear a story like that? That’s because of the way he’s telling his story. You need a good way to tell your story.” 5 likes
“Write it down. Whatever it is, write it down. Chip in into marble. Type it into Microsoft Word. Spell it out in seaweeds on the shore. We are each of us an endangered species, delicate as unicorns.” 2 likes
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