Thursday, October 3, 2013

Book Review: This Is Not a Writing Manual by Kerri Majors

Thursday, October 3, 2013
This Is Not a Writing Manual: Notes for the Young Writer in the Real World
Genre: Writing (Nonfiction)
Publisher: Writer's Digest Books
Series: Standalone
Age Group: Young Adult
Source: Bought
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 you need is another preachy writing manual telling you how you should write.
This book isn't a writing manual. It is a series of candid and irreverent essays on the writing life, from a writer who's lived it. Kerri Majors shares stories from her own life that offer insights on the realities all writers face: developing a writing voice, finding a real job (and yes, you do need to find one), taking criticism, getting published, and dealing with rejection.
Don't have enough time to write? Learn how to plan your days to fit it all in. Not sure how your guilty pleasures and bad habits translate into literature? Kerri explains how soap operas and eavesdropping can actually help your writing. Need a reader for your first novel? Find a writing buddy or a writing group that will support you. Nervous about submitting your first piece? Learn from Kerri's own roller coaster journey to find an agent and get published. "This Is Not a Writing Manual" is the writing memoir for young writers who want to use their talents in the real world.
Summary from Goodreads. 
Oh, hey! It's my first nonfiction review!

Hopefully this will be better than some of my initial fiction reviews (Remember the first three where I just summarized the plot and said, "They're good!"? It's okay if you don't. They're very different from the multiparagraph critiques I do now!), but go easy on me, okay?

This Is Not a Writing Manual is awesome for many reasons, but especially its accessibility. It's written in a way that is open and honest, and that is applicable to all kinds of writers. Majors talks a lot about her own novel-writing experience, but the lessons she shares can be applied to any category- short story, poetry, etc. Her advice isn't at all preachy, either- really, it's just her writing story and how she has learned through experience. (And I'm actually planning on using some of her advice in the writing group my friends and I have created!)

That's another aspect I really appreciated- her anecdotes are so relatable and often funny in an I-know-exactly-what-she-means kind of way. And through the telling of Major's writing life, the reader gets a clear sense about how much she loves to write. This is an author who is really, truly dedicated to her craft and that passion gets the reader excited to write! I'd read a chapter and immediately want to go off and get writing!

And you know those days where you're just burnt out? The last thing you want to do after work/school/etc. is write, no matter how much you love it. Well, This is Not a Writing Manual is a great compromise- like I said, it has a great, accessible writing style, it's helpful and practical, and therefore by reading it you are (indirectly) working on your writing. Majors even says in the book how it's important to read, since reading is one step towards better writing!

TINAWM covers nearly everything, not just all kinds of writing, but every aspect of a writer's life. Scheduling, careers, feedback... the list goes on and on. If you need help with something writing-related, odds are it's located somewhere in this book.
*5 stars*
Do you have any favorite nonfiction books?


  1. I want to read this one now! I love how it made you excited to write, and a non-preachy, funny, motivating writing book sounds just like what I need! :) Great review!

    Alice @ Alice in Readerland

  2. Sara, thank you so much for reviewing my book! I am thrilled and grateful that you found it helpful. Good luck on your writing journey, and stay in touch :-)

    1. You're so welcome- thank you for writing it!! :)

  3. I'd love to read this one. I don't have any dream of making it big as a writer, since I don't even have a story written, but I'd really like to work in the publishing industry.

    1. There's many ways to be a writer and Kerri Majors talks about many different paths in her book, so maybe that will help you! :)

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