cover image Write for Your Life

Write for Your Life

Anna Quindlen. Random House, $26 (240p) ISBN 978-0-593-22983-5

Columnist Quindlen (Nanaville) encourages amateur writers to pick up their pencils in this inspirational if at times old-fashioned love letter to writing. Quindlen homes in on seven benefits of writing and provides anecdotes to illustrate each. For example, Quindlen finds in the diary of Anne Frank the merits of writing for self-discovery and posterity, even if one never intends to publish the work. Quindlen highlights the stories of others who have found unexpected benefits in writing, including doctors who write about their experiences working with patients in “parallel” medical charts, a practice that reportedly boosts doctors’ ability to connect with those they are treating. Another anecdote tells of a California teacher who in the 1990s asked her “unteachable” students to keep journals, and the resulting stories of trauma, pain, and perseverance became the basis for the bestselling book The Freedom Writers Diary. Quindlen assures readers that the right way to write “is how you do it” and warns them not to worry about getting things right, just “get it written.” The author’s journalistic eye for story and detail breathes life into her literary philosophies, but her elegies for the pre-digital age of pen and paper come across as out of touch. Still, Quindlen makes a convincing case for writing when no one’s watching. (Apr.)