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Why We Write: 20 Acclaimed Authors on How and Why They Do What They Do

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3.91  ·  Rating details ·  2,366 ratings  ·  459 reviews
Twenty of America's bestselling authors share tricks, tips, and secrets of the successful writing life.

Anyone who's ever sat down to write a novel or even a story knows how exhilarating and heartbreaking writing can be. So what makes writers stick with it? In Why We Write, twenty well-known authors candidly share what keeps them going and what they love mostand leastabout
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Paperback, 228 pages
Published January 29th 2013 by Plume
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Average rating 3.91  · 
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 ·  2,366 ratings  ·  459 reviews


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Rose
Initial reaction: Excellent compilation of twenty writers who recount their experiences in writing - from its highs and lows to personal and professional encounters. I also loved the endnotes here where each writer gives tips to the aspiring writer what to keep in mind as they're building upon their craft. It was incredibly inspiring on a number of levels, and for the most part, I appreciated much of what the contributors had to say. There were some points where I didn't see eye to eye on ...more
Marla
Feb 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography-memoir
This book is fabulous, even if you don't write. It is one of the best I've ever read on this subject. I particularly like the way each author's stats are broken out into boxes so you can see what they've written, and each author's wisdom for writers at the end of each section.

These short essays are also especially honest, and I appreciate that. I've never read one of Michael Lewis's books - though I have a copy of "Moneyball" around somewhere - but was fascinated by his process and history.
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Emma Sea
slightly misleading title, and more accurate subtitle., in that it's much more about the how than the why: specifically how these 20 authors navigated 20th century traditional publishing. A useful step appears to be: marry well.
miteypen
Mar 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, writing
What I liked the least about this book: it was only 228 pages. What I liked the most about this book: it was only 228 pages. Okay, that's not what I liked the most, but it certainly was helpful. Because frankly I really don't need a book about writing that takes days to read when I should be spending that time writing. This book offered just enough information about each author to keep me interested and get me inspired without bogging me down in the details.

I liked that the writers were all well
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Diane S ☔
Mar 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
Reading about why authors write one would expect quite a bit of repetition and while there was of course some, this book turned out to be so much more. Why they write, where they write, interesting tidbits of their lives, what is important to them when they write and so much more. Allende is very picky with her word choices, Rick Moody wants his paragraphs to sing and Ann Patchett opened in book store in Tennessee after the closing of two bookstores and her closest friend is Elizabeth Gilbert. I ...more
Eustacia Tan
Feb 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I have a confession. I'm a struggling, aspiring, fairly lousy writer (wait, you knew that already?) I did participate in NaNoWriMo, and I do have a Figment account, but I'm terrible at writing. It's one of the biggest ironies of my life - to love writing but to lack the ability to make words sing. Still, I like reading about those who can make words come to life.

Which is why I think Why We Write is not just for writers, but also for readers. It's really an account of twenty writers and their
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Stephen Hoogerhyde
Nov 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
I found this to be a fascinating book. The editor contacted 20 writers, both fiction and non-fiction writers, and asked them to answer questions about why and how they write. All 20 responded, and the book was born. Each chapter is dedicated to one writer, and contains: a brief excerpt from one of the writer's works, an introduction by editor, the writer's vital statistics, a listing of published works, the writer's telling of why he/she writes and a description of his/her writing process and ...more
Eve Proofreads
Feb 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
The subtitle sums it up beautifully: Twenty acclaimed authors on how and why they do what they do. The introduction wittily reframes the question of why so many people write and offers famous solutions, including George Orwells suggestions: 1, sheer egoism; 2, aesthetic enthusiasm; 3, historical impulse; 4, political purpose. I think Terry Tempest Williams answer is an excellent one too, I write to make peace with the things I cannot control.

A summary of the authors work and a table of vitals
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Mary
May 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
When I'm writing, especially if it's going well, I'm living in two different dimensions: this life I'm living now, which I enjoy very much, and this completely other world I'm inhabiting that no one else knows about.
Jennifer Egan

I am never really comfortable speaking, and writing allows me time and serenity to make better what I cannot do in speech. It's a peaceful and cloistered space, the page, where I don't feel pressured the way I do in the world.
Rick Moody

For the seemingly simple act
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Yelda Basar Moers
Jul 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: writing
Why We Write is enchanting to read, a book filled with the voices of twenty critically acclaimed writers, including Jennifer Egan, Kathryn Harrison, Isabel Allende and Ann Patchett. Its reassuring to hear their frustrations, and yet their wonder with the writing process, the magic that can happen when characters take over a story and their passion for language and the craft. Many of them reveal the peace they feel when engaged in writing, how without it, they are not settled, not complete human ...more
awwsalah
Mar 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: self-dev
As we read about these writers and their ways we understand as much about why they write as how they write. Many writers remain motivated when the work is good, but the ability to keep writing is daunting when deadlines loom. When writing isnt going well fear and panic overtake thoughts of fame and profit.

Each chapter in Why We Write revolves around one authors answers to the central question of why they chose this career and results in honest, sometimes surprising original responses.

Fans of the
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Shannon Callarman
Sep 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
At the end of every author's essay on writing, there's a grey text box with a pieces of each author's wisdom for writers. I took a picture of each; they will soon be printed out and stored at my desk for those moments I feel crazy for being a writer. Writer friends -- put this book on the shelf with Bird-by-Bird and On Writing as one of the best books on writing.
Helen
Nov 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: writers, those interested in biographies and vocations
I was surprised to enjoy this book. The editor chose 20 famous authors, and asked them questions about their writing methods and interests. Each biography gives a few tips to other writers!
Jeff Swystun
Mar 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Writing for most is a largely a labour of love. For a much, much smaller number it can be a lucrative profession. As editor Maran points out, "one million manuscripts are currently searching for a U.S. publisher. One percent of these will get the nod." Even then only thirty percent of published books turn a profit. Even with these daunting odds and a confusing publishing industry, more and more people are writing (which is great).

The format of this particular book is clean, clear and appealing.
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sara
Jul 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
I have often wondered why as I am writing or as I am reading a book and this book gives me a satisfied answer to the question I constantly ask and does so in a way that is thoughtful. The thing I liked about this book was reading about the struggles of writers, it really made me see them in a realistic light and even though these writers are famous, they have their bad days along with their good. The format of the book made it easy to read and I got to learn a lot about the 20 authors in the ...more
Leslie Lindsay
Feb 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Reading WHY WE WRITE edited by Meredith Maran is like reading a self-help book by an ecclectic group of individuals with one common thread: they love to write. As a writer myself, I was abolutely nodding my head at the various pearls of wisdom expressed by each author. Of course, there were some things I was completely blown away by--that writing isn't always easy for some of these bestselling authors, who seem to do it so effortlessly.

WHY WE WRITE is one of the evergreens you will come back to
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Jess Shulman
Jul 28, 2013 rated it liked it
If you like to read about writers and their process, I recommend this one.

Each chapter has a different, commercially successful author telling about his process and writing life, exploring what life was like before and after they "made it," giving some general advice to writers. I wished each chapter would have been longer and gone deeper, but it was a really nice, honest set of interviews. There was nothing overly optimistic about the advice, which I liked (don't get in it for the money, don't
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Cristalyne
This is the sort of book you read between other books. The format is basically the same across the 20 authors that are profiled, which gets repetitive if you read more than a couple chapters at a time. Most responses to why they write are the same: I can't not write, which was an unsatisfying response, but there are other interesting tidbits. I even changed my mind about two of the authors and plan to give her another chance.

I read this after listening to an interview with Meredith Maran on the
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J. Kent Messum
Nov 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
An interesting read, and one I definitely recommend for any aspiring writers out there. The book is comprised of twenty interviews with well-known, award-winning authors who discuss what they do and why they do it.

What I found refreshing was the spectrum of reasons and motivations behind these authors and their craft. For every 'cliche' answer an author might have for a question, another author had something different or revealing, or dare I say, 'realistic'. For example, authors en masse
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Laura
Oct 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ebook, about-writing, 2015
This book took me a lot of time to read because I felt it was too important to just read it in one week or so. There's 20 writers who explain "why they write", what they feel when they write, and basically why writing is so important to them.
For me, this book is pretty special, because you get to apreciate other artists' feelings towards writing, how they started, where they are now... It's very intense.

I recomend it to people who love writing, or even people who just really love reading,
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Beth
Feb 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
It took me a while to read this book just because I was reading a couple others along side it, but in reality, this is a fairly quick read. I gotta say, I really really liked this book. As an aspiring writer, it was so inspirational to read the stories of these authors and to read their advice to novice writers like myself. This book is uplifting and a must read for those seeking a career as a writer!
Richard
May 15, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This was a fun,quick read. An anthology of well known writers talking about why they write, a little about their methods and quirks and there top bits of advice to other writers. Nothing too heavy or overly shocking but it is always good to get others perspectives on these things. One you can dip in and out of or just read from cover to cover.
Linda
Oct 30, 2012 added it
Reviewed for Library Journal.
Interesting, but kind of repetitive - we do know, after all, why writers write. Because they have to. The interesting bits were about process.
Disappointing that there were no writers here who started writing after the 1990s. So the industry has changed so much in the last ten years, these success stories don't really give hope to any up-and-comer now.
Jessica Tegge
Jan 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A short and sweet book covering twenty top selling authors and their advice, quirks, and voice in todays world of books. WWR offers a behind the scenes look that turns these big name authors into the mothers, teachers, and Home Depot employees that they truly are. I loved it! ...more
Rand  Saber
Feb 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful, beautiful book! I think it should have a part 2 and 3 and I intend to come back to it many times.
If you love biographies this is your book.. It has 20 short ones!

شكرا لتكوين على الترجمة العربية الممتازة على تعدد المترجمين
Meg Tuite
Dec 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
An interesting read with some good advice from authors.
GONZA
Jan 09, 2013 rated it liked it
I think I did expect a little bit less of repetition, but maybe it's basically true that the reasons why writers write are quite the same, and I must admit I haven't read all of them and some of the things I already knows. Maybe I was just searching for the right magic formula to become a famous writer, but that's not what is written in this book. Very interesting were the way some of this writers write, the process involved in the creation of the book.

Penso mi aspettassi un libro un po' meno
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Erin
Dec 06, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: library
I keep trying, but books about other writers' writing habits or advice tend to annoy me more than inspire me (notable exclusions: Bird by Bird, Writing Down the Bones). Some of the advice included in this anthology was interesting, some I'm already doing (Sara Gruen keeps a spare document of all the passages she cuts but can't bring herself to delete, named "Leftovers" which is EXACTLY what my document of passages I cut but can't delete is named! Spooky), but most were repetitions on advice ...more
Tara
Jan 30, 2013 rated it liked it
I thought this book was fascinating, especially the authors' backgrounds & experiences in writing & publishing. The book did feel dated with no mention of ebooks or self-publishing, which are such a strong trends right now. It is also somewhat repetitive at times. My biggest issue with this book was some of the authors themselves who came across as quite arrogant, at times insulting their audience or other authors. I found this very disappointing, especially in this type of book.
Jen
Aug 26, 2013 rated it liked it
Interesting mix of advice here, but James Frey should absolutely not have been included.
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MEREDITH MARAN is the author of more than a dozen nonfiction books, including Why We Write About Ourselves, Why We Write, and My Lie; and the acclaimed 2012 novel, A Theory of Small Earthquakes. She's a book critic and essayist for newspapers and magazines including the Los Angeles Times, the Boston Globe, the Chicago Tribune, The Los Angeles Review of Books, and Salon.com. The recipient of ...more

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