Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Travis' Book Review: Just Write: Here's How! by Walter Dean Myers

Walter Dean Myers has written or co-written over 100 books for teens and young readers, but in this offering, Myers expands on his role as a literary ambassador to young people. Just Write: Here’s How! uses a number of anecdotes from his own life and even adding pages from his own notebooks, Myers gives his audience a step-by-step description of the writing method he has used over the course of his career. He explains, “With these tools and a willingness to do the hard work of writing, you will be able to get to the end of a poem or a story or even a book.”


It is with a cool understanding of who he is as writer, that Myers defines the characteristics of the craft that brought success to him. He explains that he could have walked down the wrong path, the path of the many misguided young people he tries to reach, but instead focused his attention on books. It was the library that opened up the concept that there are others worlds outside of the streets he grew up on – an alternative path to walk. Myers tells his audience, “Read everything you can, looking for ideas that give you hope and expand your sense of what’s possible.” Unfortunately for Myers, while reading books, he also came to the understanding that there wasn’t a lot of literature meant for youth like him, so he started writing until he became the writer that he is today.


As prolific as he is, though, Myers feels that he is not a particularly talented writer because writing does not come easy to him. Writing is hard work, and he relies on structure and diligence to get to the end of a book. The methodology presented to the readers is easily understood and does not bog down the overall concept of the book. Myers’ tone is also one of encouragement, and his simple and direct writing makes a very positive impact on the reader, giving inspiration, as well as instruction. While he does express the hardship of writing, like rejection, the editing process, and constant rewrites, he also expresses the need of young writers to tell their stories because he is living proof that writing has the potential to save lives. Writing not only serves the story, but serves the storyteller.


It is Myers’ hope that his words do inspire young people to read and write, and Just Write should be read by all young people whether or not they intend to be writers. The beauty of the book is that while it is intended to be an inspirational guide to writing, it is also an inspirational story of a troubled youth that became a successful writer – even though that writer still posts magazine clippings of people over his desk to help him visualize his characters. Even through hardships that face the writer, Walter Dean Myers is a great success, but he judges his success on whether or not he is able to make a positive change in the lives of young people. Just Write: Here’s How! is a great example of the power of writing and will educate and inspire any young writer that just needs a push toward the right direction.


Myers even seems to speak for all of the book lovers in the world when he says, “I am grateful for you, an aspiring writer of book we’ll all read tomorrow.”


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