Review ~ Letters to a Young Writer… by Colum McCann


Colum McCann


From the bestselling author of the National Book Award winner Let the Great World Spin comes the perfect graduation gift: a lesson in how to be a writer, and so much more.

Intriguing and inspirational, this book is a call to look outward rather than inward. McCann asks his readers to constantly push the boundaries of experience, to see empathy and wonder in the stories we craft and hear.

A paean to the power of language, both by argument and by example, Letters to a Young Writer is fierce and honest in its testament to the bruises delivered by writing as both a profession and a calling. It charges aspiring writers to learn the rules and even break them.

These fifty-two essays are ultimately a profound challenge to a new generation to bring truth and light to a dark world through their art.


*5 star advice, folks!*

Letters to a Young Writer is a quick read with brief, bold chapters and a voice so upbeat you can just about dance to it. It offers a multitude of helpful suggestions and persuades writers not to recreate what they already know, but to write toward what they want to know; to look outward, rather than in.

“All writing is imagination. It creates out of dust. Even what they choose to call nonfiction.”

This guide will not make a writer out of you, but will greatly inspire the writer within you. For those of us who write, inspiration and motivation are key.

Although conveyed in a positive and honest light, these “letters” don’t promise or delude; failure is almost guaranteed, but keep moving forward. Don’t be afraid! Pick yourself up and try again. And again. Classes are helpful, but no one can show you how to write.

“The best teacher will know that she is not teaching you at all.”

As a reader, I’ve always found that the writing/delivery of a story is more powerful than what is ultimately being told, and this guide affirms that not every idea will be unique, although every voice should be.

“Plot takes a backseat in a good story because what happens is never as interesting as how it happens.”

This helpful little ditty crossed my radar at the perfect time, and I know it’s one I will seek out again for future guidance and support. Its messages are for all writers – young and old. Don’t trip over the title: Young means “New”, people! I’m on my way to 37, and although I’m not the springiest of chickens, I’m fairly new enough at this writing *stuff*. Best of luck to the rest of the newbies!

Sometimes we really do find the perfect book, at the perfect time…

Author: Kristin (KC)

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