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Good Naked: Reflections on How to Write…
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Good Naked: Reflections on How to Write More, Write Better, and Be Happier

by Joni B. Cole

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
There are a gazillion books on writing (more, better, less angstily) out there. It would be unrealistic to expect any of them to do anything new, and this one doesn't. It offers fairly standard advice on coping with the psychological difficulties of writing. But what's unique about this book is the writer's voice and approach. Cole's style is intimate and chatty, and she heavily draws from her personal experience as the leader of writing workshops.

Don't expect clear rules and how-tos. It's not that Cole doesn't offer advice, but it's couched in narrative and storytelling. In order to get the kernels of advice, you need to read/skim the whole book. I don't see this as a downside, but anyone who's looking for easy-to-find lists of do's and don'ts will be disappointed.

This is a nicely written, compassionate book on integrating the practice of writing into a psychologically healthy lifestyle. ( )
  Crae | May 21, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
"Good Naked: Reflections on How to Write More, Write Better, and Be Happier" by Joni B. Cole is an engaging book on writing packed with excellent advice. While Cole’s book is geared towards creative writing, many of the ideas here would work for many writers. Furthermore, many of the suggestions transcend the act of writing; in fact, they apply to life as well. For instance, in the chapter fittingly entitled “Survival of the Optimist,” Cole describes how people, who are hard-wired for negativity anyway, seem especially prone to focusing on the bad when it comes to their own writing. Rather than taking on this negative slant, which can lead to us wanting to avoid writing altogether, she recommends that we “see our work in a realistic, but also positive light” (p.34). Certainly, this is excellent counsel for any writer, but it also applies to most people.

Cole’s other suggestions range from avoiding “brutal honesty,” both as a phrase and a mindset, to setting personal targets for getting a creative work done to defending the word “nice” and seeing it as something to aspire towards. These recommendations come together to fulfill the promise of the book’s subtitle that readers can “write more, write better, and be happier.” Although some cynics might scoff at the notion of the happy author (a stereotype that Cole tackles), the optimistic tone and lack of cynicism make this a refreshing book on writing. It would be a great read for any writer, ranging from published authors and writing instructors to writing novices.

The only caveat I have with the book is its title and cover. While the title, “Good Naked,” is provocative, it proved befuddling until I got to that chapter (about a third of the way in). Even after reading the chapter and having context for the title, it still doesn’t resonate with me and doesn’t seem to be the most important idea in the book. Added to this is the cover, which features a pair of bare legs from the knees down emerging from one of the Ds. The effect isn’t awful, but when paired with the title, it does seem misleading. However, this is a very minor issue and likely one that can be attributed to the publisher rather than the author. It certainly shouldn’t deter people from reading the book (though be prepared for some odd looks from people if you read it in public, like I did). ( )
  sweeks1980 | May 13, 2017 |
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