Brenda UelandThe ghost of Brenda Ueland speaks immortal from the pages of her book – “If You Want To Write – A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit.” It may be hard to imagine a book written by a writer, editor and teacher could be so liberating to your creative instincts, but this is one you’ll want to read again and again, especially when you think you can – do anything.

In many ways, this book plays out as a book about confidence, but I believe she really began the work to cultivate a light for specifically writers and it does, but along the way she introduces much more including ‘the murderers of dreams’ and the mystic incantations from William Blake.

It’s an encouraging and soaring book for anyone who wants to write and deserves renewed attention for anyone who enjoys improving their personal creative freedoms.

This little blue book was impressed upon me by reading the liner notes at Barnes and Noble and in particular from a quote from author/speaker and visionary Guy Kawasaki. One of the founders of Apple Computers, Guy continues to write several great business titles and his blog continues to be exciting too as he introduces many cutting-edge business practices for the 21st century. He says;

“Run, do not walk to your nearest bookstore and buy If You Want to Write. It is one of the few books I have ever read more than five times. I have so much faith in Euland’s book that if you buy it and it doesn’t help you, I will give your moneyback. I won’t even say that about my books, ” Guy Kawasaki

He certainly won’t worry about a refund with me. This book is truly a treasure! Brenda Ueland introduces several ideas that heal the anxiety, frustration and inferorities that stand in our way for performing and practicing any expressive art. She offerings consultation and self-confidence for anyone who doubts their abilities or has been infected by critics or ‘murderers of dreams’ and that in itself is good therapy on any day.

Step over Ralph Waldo Emerson, Brenda Ueland has seduced me with the words of William Blake too and you’ve been replaced (for the time being). Many of the chapters in this book borrow the exalted concepts and poems that Blake wrote about the divine creative force in all people. Many of his quotes stand out like weathered monuments including;

“I should be sorry if I had any earthly fame, for whatever natural glory a man has is so much detracted from his spiritual glory. I wish to do nothing for profit. I wish to live for art. I want nothing whatever. I am quite happy.

“Sooner strangle and infant in its cradle than nurse unacted desires.”

“For nothing is pleasing to God except the invention of beautiful and exalted things.”

“The Best Way to know the Truth or Beauty is to try to express it.”

“The Tigers of Wrath are wiser Than The Horses of Instruction”

“Who does not know the Truth at Sight is unworthy of Her Notice.”

Along with additional inspiring thoughts from Tolstoi, Chekov and Dostoevsky, Ueland chains a league of her influences into a book that is excellent for anyone who desires to write. For me, it was a great introduction to several Russian authors that were inspiring. Here’s a couple of new ideas that were intriguing;

The business of art lies in just this, to make that understood and felt which, in the form of an argument, might be incomprehensible and inaccessible…
And such has always been the nature of good, supreme art, the “Illiad,” the “Odyssey,” … the Hebrew prophets, the gospel parables, and the hymns of the Vedas; all transmit very elevated feelings and are nevertheless comprehensible to us now, educated and uneducated; as they were comprehensible to the men of times long ago who were even less educated than our laborers…”

My own efforts are feeble and they have been locked down in anxiety, douft and fear of mediocrity for a long time now and this little book is an over the counter prescription for improving your freedom and purpose if you want to write.

Here are some primary thoughts offered by this work – ‘If You Want To Write.” It’s not a book about tired subjects like, predicates and adverbs, but rather an inspiring journey to greater happiness and a mystical confidence in your work.


(1.) Everyone is talented, Original and Has Something Important To Say
(2.) Imagination is the Divine Body in Every Man. – Blake
(3.) The imagination works slowly and quietly
(4.) Be careless, reckless, Be A lion, Be A pirate when you write.
(5.) Notice everything with quiet pleasure
(6.) The personality behind the writing is so important.
(7.) Try to see the people better in your stories.
(8.) Write what comes to you now. More will come later….

Brenda lived 93 years and from her photo inside the cover, I would have enjoying meeting her, but like many great authors who inspire me, I feel we’ve crossed time a bit and I’m thankful. She must have been something too – at 80 she received an international swimming record and knighted by the King of Norway.

If you are an artist, this book is a great compliment to the pursuit of personal freedom in any creative endeavor.