Writers love reading, writing, and reading about writing. If you ask any writer to name some impactful books that have encouraged their craft, I guarantee you they will be able to pound out a list of 3-5 books immediately. My personal list includes If You Want to Write by Brenda Ueland, On Writing by Stephen King, and any Jack Kerouac poem (they’re not usually specifically about writing, but always about living, and writing is about living, so I count Kerouac).
I’m not quite sure where I found out about Michele Weldon’s Writing to Save Your Life; probably from some other non-fic book. Thankfully, a copy of Writing found its way to my bookshelf. This book is part self-help, part how-to, part inspiration. It’s Weldon’s in-person writing workshop in book form.
“Writing to Save Your Life” has two meanings – the first deals with making sure that you live, and the second has to do with recording your own personal history. One of the book’s great central ideas is that you do matter enough to record your own thoughts. In our social media age it might seem like we take for granted that of course we know we matter, but I would argue that part of the reason we post and worry about likes is that we want some validation. This book is nearly 20 years old, but Weldon does make the point that we don’t need to necessarily publish what we write, but that the writing itself is helpful for us in understanding ourselves and our world. It’s also helpful to savor things.
With each little session in the book workshop, Weldon provides some writing exercises and samples from her own previously published works. The exercises were helpful for me in exploring ideas or parts of myself I previously hadn’t or wouldn’t, and for that reason I enjoyed the book and plan on handing it off to other friends/family to enjoy.