Naked, Drunk and Writing

"It’s called ‘Naked, Drunk, and Writing’ because I like that title, and because someone at a party once remarked to me over sushi that books with ‘naked’ in the title always sell."

- Naked, Drunk, and Writing, page 7

No, this is not a book about getting naked and sitting down with a bottle of Chardonnay to write your manuscript.

Naked, Drunk, and Writing is for anyone out there aspiring to be a writer. With the advent of Facebook, blogging, Tweeting, and Instagram—to name just a few social media platforms—anybody can make a name for themselves and publish a book today. Adair Lara gives the reader all the information they need to become a good writer, from scheduling a sacred time to write—same time, same place, every day, if possible—to how to start and end each piece of writing. This is the “must-have book if you are an aspiring columnist, essayist, or memoirist—or just a writer who needs a bit of help getting your story told.”

The Big Idea

The Big Idea: The biggest takeaway from the book

Painting a story with words

"A story is nothing more than images with feelings attached. If there is no emotion in the narrator, there will be none in the reader."
- Naked, Drunk, and Writing, page 75

I love to write! I am an artist. I see things differently. I see exceptional beauty in the ordinary and with my tin box of watercolor paints I can capture things that are part of my everyday life. Now, I want to be able to capture moments in my life with words.

My wish is to learn how to write and share my voice in small, snack-able pieces that won’t bore my readers to death.

In painting I learned to never state what you can imply. This allows the observer, or in the case of writing, the reader, to participate in the writing with you. “A coffee cup being rinsed will give us the kitchen” is an excellent example of this. Show, don’t tell. We, the readers, can safely assume that if the coffee cup is being rinsed, that the narrator is in the kitchen. We don’t need to describe the kitchen scene. We are, as writers trying to create images with our words, just as an artist does with a paint brush.

The most important takeaway from this book is giving ourselves the permission to write. We all have stories within us, and it is our own voices that makes the telling of our stories unique. To get us going, Adair offers examples such as setting aside time every day for writing. Schedule it. Make it routine. Make it fun. Just like exercise, if it isn’t fun, we won’t want to do it.

Insight #1

An actionable way to implement the Big Idea into your life

Writing about the ordinary and the personal

"When you write about how you’ve messed up, we like you, since we’ve messed up, too. A sympathetic, vulnerable, and thus appealing tone is created."
- Naked, Drunk, and Writing, page 54

We are living in an era where there is an interest in the real stories of other people’s lives.

“What goes on between a writer of personal true-life stories and the person who reads them is like a friendship,” writes Lara. “You tell your friend things you wouldn’t tell anyone.”

To get your creative juices flowing, write a series of personal anecdotes; things that happened in your life. Then, group them together and in time you will have enough material for a story.

Or choose a story about a personal experience that changed you. Share your before and after experiences. If setting aside time to write is difficult, you can get voice-transcription software. Dictate as you drive. In doing this you can write your way to work or wherever you are. These exercises are designed to get us writing about our own personal experiences—how they changed us and how to write about those changes.

Adair tells us that it’s ok in personal writing to be honest and vulnerable. That is what endears us to our readers. The best way to do that is to write from our own personal experiences. For example, Adair writes: “When you write about how you’ve messed up, we like you, since we’ve messed up, too. A sympathetic, vulnerable, and thus appealing tone is created.”

Just like in art, when we look at a painting, we want to feel part of the experience. This allows the observer, or the reader, to participate in the writing with you. Show, don’t tell. A story is images with feelings attached and it is our job, as narrators, to create emotion in our stories.

Insight #2

An actionable way to implement the Big Idea into your life

Do you sound like you?

"It’s sounding so much like you, and so unlike anybody else, that we don’t need to see the byline to know you wrote the piece."
- Naked, Drunk, and Writing, page 59

Adair tells us that our voice is our personality on the page.

She provides an example of a writer, who after years as a masseuse, was unable to get a passport because her fingerprints were too worn down. “Who but a masseuse would know that?” This is another example of creating imagery (like the coffee cup being rinsed). We want what we are writing about to come from our own personal experiences. Those are the images and details that shine through in our writing. For inspiration, she asks us to think about a transformative moment in our lives, where we experienced an epiphany, or overcame a huge challenge. Or we can write about the ordinary, the everyday. We do not have to write an epic tale of fiction. In writing about the mundane, we are sharing stories that our readers can relate to. They do this by bringing their own associations to it.

Many of our stories will have been told before. It is our job to find new ways to say the same old thing. We then need to decide if we are willing to make the commitment. And just like anything we do in life, there is a learning curve, time involved, and the desire to create a new habit. If we build writing time into our daily routines, it will become habit, just something we automatically do.

Not all of us wish to be writers. But, at some point in our life, we are going to be required to write about something. It could be a speech at a friend’s wedding, a biography of someone we know and love, a piece for a magazine, or an article on our latest travel destination. Words are a way for us to leave our mark in this world, to express ourselves, and above all, to be heard.

Writing can give us great joy. When we set our stories down, we feel more alive, important and satisfied. It can give our lives meaning. It lets us share and it lets us choose what we wish to say about ourselves.

Read this book, and then start writing.

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Susan Jaehn-Kreibaum

ABOUT Susan Jaehn-Kreibaum

After her three children left home, Susan Jaehn-Kreibaum decided to share her home with others. In 2015 she opened "The Empty Nest Bed and Breakfast" located on the shores of Wellers Bay in Prince Edward County...
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