Naked, Drunk and Writing

Summary Written by Susan Jaehn-Kreibaum
"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

The Big Idea

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

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.

Join our newsletter

Sign up for the very best book summaries right to your inbox.
We care about your data in our privacy policy.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Insight #2

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.

Read the book

Get Naked, Drunk and Writing on Amazon.

Adair Lara

Adair Lara started her career writing for local magazines–first at San Francisco Focus, the city magazine, and then at SF, a design magazine at which she passed herself off as someone passionately interested in interior design. She wrote freelance humor pieces for the San Francisco Chronicle Sunday section, and in 1989 they invited her to join the staff and write a regular column of my own. The newspaper was famed then for its columnists, which include Pulitzer Prize winners Stanton Delaplane, Charles McCabe, and Herb Caen. She has published some ten books or so, including several collections of columns.

Subscribe to digest
Read about our privacy policy.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.