Originally published: 6 January 2022
Author: Cathy Rentzenbrink
Published by: Bluebird Books
Length: 240 pages
Reading dates: 6-12 January 2022
Why do we want to write and what stops us?
How does the urge to express ourselves fight with the worry that no-one will care or that we will get in trouble?
How do we identify and overcome everything that gets in our way so we can start making work?
Sunday Times bestselling author Cathy Rentzenbrink shows you how to tackle all this and more in Write It All Down, a guide to putting your life on the page. This is a kind, encouraging and stimulating book that explores the nature of memoir writing and offers helpful guidance on how to write your life on paper. Rentzenbrink will help you to discover the pleasure and solace to be found in writing; the profound satisfaction of wrestling a story onto a page and seeing the events of your life transformed through the experience of writing the self.
Perfect for both seasoned writers as well as writing amateurs and everyone in between, this helpful handbook will steer you through the philosophical and practical challenges of writing the self. Intertwined with reflections, anecdotes and exercises from successful writers such as Dolly Alderton, Matt Haig, Kit de Waal, Sathnam Sanghera and Maggie O’Farrell, Write It All Down is at once an intimate and enjoyable narrative and an invitation to share your story.
I read and adored Dear Reader by Cathy Rentzenbrink in 2020 so was keen to read this guide to writing a memoir. I’m not a writer – I love reading but I have never had the urge to put my words down for others to read. And I’ve never really thought about writing about my life. I have read a lot of memoirs and they are usually about something profound and nothing remarkable had ever happened to me so I had never considered it.
But in 2020 my husband left me after 20 years of marriage. Now I’m aware this in itself is unremarkable. But what I did think would make an interesting story is what happened to me as a single woman in her late 40s. I haven’t dated since forever so joined Tinder just to see what would happen and my friends thoroughly enjoyed the results and on more than one occasion I was told I should write a book about my experiences! The men I met, the pictures I received and what some of them they expected of me was shocking at the time but now I look back at it with amusement and I think it would make others laugh or nod along with my experiences.
Divided into 4 main parts including Preparation, Excavation, Crafting & Editing and Getting Work Done, Write It All Down is written in short, accessible chapters and is written like I would imagine Rentenbrink speaks.
It addresses the blockers to writing and how to overcome them. It talks about the planning process and gives examples how different authors plan their work. It talks about time and how to find enough of it. One part I particularly liked were some helpful editing tips – Rentenbrink gives several variations of the same paragraph and explains how to edit, get rid of unnecessary words and phrases and make sure the words used don’t digress from the story.
I thoroughly enjoyed this and I feel very inspired. Rentzenbrink is warm and motivational and this is a very accessible book. Whether I will ever take the plunge and write my own story, I haven’t quite decided! But Write It All Down is certainly a book I will keep beside me and refer to constantly if I ever feel brave enough!
Many thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me on the tour and Bluebird Books for my advanced copy. Check out what other reviewers are saying on their blogs below
About the author:
Cathy Rentzenbrink is the author of the Sunday Times best-seller The Last Act of Love and of A Manual for Heartache, Dear Reader: The Comfort and Joy of Books and Everyone is Still Alive. It took her twenty years to wrestle her own life story on the page and she loves to use what she has learnt about the profound nature of writing the self in the service of others.
Cathy has taught for Arvon, Curtis Brown Creative, at Falmouth University and at festivals and in prisons, and welcomes anyone, no matter what their experience, education, background or story. She believes that everyone’s life would be improved by picking up a pen and is at her happiest when encouraging her students to have the courage to delve into themselves and see the magic that will start to happen on the