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This Is Not a Writing Manual: Notes for the Young Writer in the Real World

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  210 ratings  ·  52 reviews
Real-world writing advice, minus all the lectures.

You're an aspiring writer. Maybe you've just discovered your love of words and dream of being a novelist someday. Maybe you've been filling notebooks with science-fiction stories since middle school. Maybe you're contemplating a liberal arts degree, but you don't know what the heck you're going to do with it. The last thing
Paperback, 199 pages
Published July 9th 2013 by Writer's Digest Books (first published June 11th 2013)
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3.76  · 
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 ·  210 ratings  ·  52 reviews

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Posted at Shelf Inflicted

I was looking for something to read in the YA section, but I wasn’t in the mood for paranormals or romances. The title and the wide-open mouth on the cover enticed me to take a closer look. Normally, I don’t read books about writing. Other than keeping a meticulous journal during my childhood and teen years, I have never done any serious writing other than what was required of me for school or work.

Writing requires time, effort, self-discipline, patience, and a thick s
Kerri Maher
Apr 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
But what do YOU think?
Jun 22, 2013 rated it liked it
Too many personal anecdotes overshadow any advice gleaned by the reader. Tough to finish this one.
Sep 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-on-writing
From my blog at

I'm walking around Barnes and Noble, tall pumpkin spice soy latte in hand, the weight of the journal in my purse weighing down my arm. You see, I'm actually at that point in my writing career where I feel like a real writer. I'm not published and I don't have an agent, but I get up everyday with writing on my mind. I go to bed every night with thoughts of my work in progress in the forefront of my mind. Every night I go to sleep hoping that I will dream something
Feb 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
To say that this book is "fantastic" and that it should be compulsory reading for all aspiring writers would not be doing this book justice. The author, Kerri Majors, although she has published this book, and several short stories, essays, and other publications as well as holding an MFA in Creative Writing and starting up the publication YARN, is, like so many of us, waiting for the book deal for her fiction to come through. Of course, it helps that she has an agent who believes in her and is w ...more
Jun 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
I found it very helpful for living as a writer. As Kerri Major states, it is not a book about writing, though there are tips for being a better writer. It's filled with suggestions and things I want to try with my own writing at the first chance.
Lourdes Bernabe
Jan 14, 2014 rated it did not like it
I don't think I've ever given a 1-star rating so I feel like I need to defend this.

1. While the title does say, this isn't a writer's manual, I felt like almost all of what the author wrote was just simple regurgitation of things already widely discussed in the book blogosphere with nothing of any use added by the author.
2. This book was tiny but it dragged on and on and on. No really, this should have taken me a day at most to read but it took almost an entire week to get through it.
3. I highl
Cara M
Apr 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
I'm probably a little older than the target audience of this book (having graduated college, worked a couple jobs, and started contributing to a 401k), but I did find it incredibly valuable as a high-level overview of the writing life. Kerri is upbeat and engaging throughout, adding (necessary!) levity to chapters with less pleasant/happy subjects, and I found the whole book to be very hopeful while still being realistic. Very much "writing life is hard, but life is hard period, and it's still p ...more
Sep 17, 2016 rated it it was ok
I wanted to love this, I really did. I heard so many great things about this, that it was so inspiring to writers. But, I felt as though I was just reading Kerri's biography. I get it, it's NOT a writing manual, but it's supposed to help writers see what's out there in the world of writing. And she showed her experiences, and only HER experiences and some of these "tips" are very basic and common writing tips that I find on Pinterest! Some of the stuff she wrote about I actually did find helpful ...more
Natalie Keating
Jun 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
This book is FANTASTIC! There's so much good information in here for young aspiring writers. Turns out I was doing a lot of things wrong while submitting short stories. I never would have known otherwise—but I read this book.

This book also made me feel better about not having a big fancy writing career. Truth is, that rarely happens and just because it hasn't happened doesn't mean you're a bad writer. Kerri is basically the writing BFF I've been looking for for ages and I wish I could be real-l
Jan 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: about-writing
Great insights, especially in the Introduction and first two chapters. That part of the book was just phenomenal and phenomenally useful to me. She drops many great insights, including:
Create a writing schedule/some way to write nearly every day.
Drafting (that first draft) is where the magic happens. It's not all about revision like they say.
Reading is, well, writing: Don't disparage your reading time. Consider it an integral part of writing.
Great book.
Shasta Matova
Apr 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, writing
As the title says, this is not a how-to manual that shows you how to write well or get published. But it is really helpful to a struggling writer if for nothing else than to see that someone else is going through the same things that you are. It is mostly a memoir, but you can learn from the author's experiences.
Mar 21, 2014 rated it it was ok
The title tells you right up front. This is not a writing manual. I thought it was just a catchy title but it's more of a documentary of the authors writing life with a small amount of helpful info thrown in. It wasn't quite what I was looking for.
Lauren AKA randomreader
3.5 stars/5
Michanne Reese
Nov 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
I was not familiar with Kerri Majors or YARN, but having been given This Is Not a Writing Manual by a trusted friend and colleague, and seeing it was published by Writer's Digest, I was optimistic about giving it a try. I'm happy I did.
As an older, yet still unpublished, writer, much of the content resonates with the me of today as it would have with the younger me. In the Introduction Kerri describes the words of wisdom she was given which brought back the vivid recollection of proudly showing
Sep 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
So normally I never review books, I just read and go. But this book... the minute I opened this book, I knew I just had to review it. To put it simply, it felt like a more contemporary version of On Writing, except Stephen King is a middle-aged female author writing to teenagers, not the entire world.

But on a more personal note, it felt like I was sitting across from my "big sis", and she--who is not a writer like me--was giving me advice. (I may or may not have hid the book under the table dur
I enjoyed the author's energy, personality, and openness, and I was glad the title was accurate, since I was looking for a burst of inspiration and insight rather than yet another craft manual. I appreciated the anecdotes and advice on the writing life, time management, ego management, creative energy and the like, though unfortunately I didn't pick up too much that was new. And I have to say the section on career choices felt under-informed and weirdly skewed. Since this is Kerri Major's first ...more
Miss December
Aug 07, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: abandoned
DNF somewhere before 8/07/2019. I tried. I loved the cover and I wanted to love the insides as well.

I can't do it.

The author gives really good advice if you're willing to read through her arrogance and drawn-out sequences of how great she is at writing, but it's the same advice you'll find elsewhere.

Fantastic waste of time and reader-patience, and I'll defend this statement to anyone who questions it, but in the interest of time, pick up a more helpful book like Stephen King's "On Writing" or C
Aug 15, 2019 rated it liked it
Not entirely captivating, but I read the whole thing other than the first 6 chapters of Part 3. I read the book because the cover art is stellar and the title struck as funny. I already committed to reading it before I realized how much it was geared towards teens. Maybe a good read for teens.
Eustacia Tan
Aug 21, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: ebook
Due to NaNoWriMo, the NLB's eBooks program was recommending me a bunch of writing books. It took me some time after Nano, but I decided to take a look at their selection. I've heard of this book before (I think), so I decided to give it a go. After all, I'm still on my NaNoWriMo high.

This is Not a Writing Manual is catered towards young writers (for some reason, I think young female writers instead of people like my brother. I don't know why, it's just a feeling I got), and it's divided into thr
Aug 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
One day, I was browsing my town's library page for any news about anything interesting going on in the book world, events happening at the library, new books, etc. I stumbled across a notice that said that Kerri Majors was going to be at the library that day to speak about her book, This Is Not A Writing Manual. I had never heard of her or her book, so after a ten minute quick research of her on the internet, I grabbed my notebook, library card, told my mom I was going to something that'll make ...more
Carolyn James
Sep 26, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: writing
Majors does a lot of great things in this book. She gives lots of ideas for careers and just general ways to immerse yourself in writing that will help better your skills as a writer, while maintaining a thick skin. I found myself highlighting a lot of info that will be helpful as I continue to write in my spare time.....

However, there were two big critiques I had with this book. The first is that I feel the overall book was geared a little too young. I'm only 26, still pretty young, but even I
Jordan Fernandez
May 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
-This is not the kind of book you can spoil-

I really enjoyed it. I must admit: when I started the book, I was a little rude and snarky about it, because I am a bitter individual and an egomaniac, and I didn't completely see the merit of a writer who isn't wildly successful writing a book on writing. The thing I learned very quickly is, however, that they provide a much more realistic guide for unpublished writers. Most writers don't make it big on their first book, and there will be a struggle,
May 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book was SUPER helpful, down-to-earth, full of great nuggets of essential knowledge for writers and practical, applicable tips. I really wish I could've kept it, but, alas, I checked it out from a library. I took notes on it but I may look into buying a copy in the future. Reading this book was like the equivalent to sitting down with an experienced and wise writer and having several real-life advice sessions. Majors doesn't sugarcoat anything. She helps you understand that the writing life ...more
Mar 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: self-improvement
I had been browsing for something akin to a writing manual, when I not the peculiar title of this book. I didn't buy it the first time, but I did upon a subsequent return. I had ordered 'Wired for a Story', and determined that Kerri Major's book was small enough for me to read in the meantime. She states in the beginning that she intends it to serve as a sort of writer's therapy; and for me, it definitely was. It is decidedly not a writing manual, but would make an excellent companion to one. I ...more
Dua Azhar
Oct 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Getting to know how an author reaches the author world is something I've always wanted to know, and this book has it!
This Is Not a Writing Manual by Kerri Majors is not a manual, like the title says, but how the author herself went through the journey of becoming an author. And even though it's not a manual, it still provides helpful tips for beginners who want to be writers.
The humor in this book is very relatable, meaning how Majors explains the struggles of writing for us writers--even begi
Jun 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I picked this book up on a whim, not really knowing what to expect, but I'm so, so glad I read it. This Is Not A Writing Manual is a very moving read; it's funny, irreverent, melancholy, and honest. It has given me some much needed motivation to get my writing life in order, and more importantly, has made me think deeply about why I write, and how much books mean to me. And that is what This Is Not A Writing Manual is about- just why it is that we write, knowing that the work is difficult, that ...more
Nov 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I didn't really read it all the way through but I read bits and pieces of it and really enjoyed it. It was a well written book of advice for writes, young adults especially. It gave good information as well as still being entertaining to learn from. If I ever had a question, I would check this book out and see if it had any advice like if writing is a real job or not (I concluded from this that it is very hard work-I know this from writing one myself-and although jobs are work, writing is not a ...more
Jun 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is truly one of the most important books I have ever read in my life.

This Is Not a Writing Manual is a unique book on the writing life and what never seems to be said about it. Sure, many books address the struggles of "making it" in the industry, the obstacles seem to be held at an emotional distance. However, Kerri Majors is honest about writing. What she has to say about fear, envy, and the value of what you want to write resonated so deeply with me that this book brought me to tears. As
Diana Renn
May 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
How I wish I had had this book when I was an aspiring writer in high school and college -- or even well into my 20s. Part memoir, part advice book, and part philosophical treatise (in the best possible way), Kerri's describes being a teen writer-of-promise who encounters the realities of becoming a published writer as an adult. The book offers equal doses of reality checks and inspiration. A must-read for every young writer -- and for writers at early stages of their journeys, regardless of thei ...more
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Formally: I'm the author of This is Not a Writing Manual; Notes for the Young Writer in the Real World (Writer's Digest Books, available Summer 2013). I'm also the Editor and Founder of YARN, an award-winning literary journal of short-form YA.

Informally: I'm a recovering book snob who used to think only classics and contemporary literary fiction were worth reading. I've learned my lesson. Now I re