Naked, Drunk, and Writing: Shed Your Inhibitions and Craft a Compelling Memoir or Personal Essay by Adair Lara is a thought provoking, informative, and inspiring book on writing personal essays or memoirs. Lara, who wrote a weekly column for the San Francisco Chronicle for twelve years and won the Associated Press Award for Best Columnist in California, uses her experiences as a columnist, author of more than ten books, and writing instructor to guide you through the writing process from coming up with an idea to write about to selling your essay to a magazine or your book to a publisher.
As a writer who focuses on writing essays and memoirs, it makes sense that Lara’s book on writing is not a dry, technical writing manual. It’s engaging and full of stories. I found it enjoyable to read, as well as informative and educational.
The first part of the book is short and goes into why writing down your stories is common and the importance of craft. Part two focuses on the personal essay going into the elements of a successful essay and a chapter on angle.
The third part of the book covers techniques and practices for essay and memoir. The chapters in this part of the book cover tone, image, how to trick yourself into writing, working with other writers, and rewriting your work. These chapters provide good advice on important ingredients of the craft of writing.
Part four is on the memoir and has chapters that cover planning your memoir, what goes in it and what doesn’t, and how to write narration and scene. These are important considerations for this type of writing.
The final part of the book is on getting published. There are many other books with this a sole focus, but Lara does a decent job of sharing some tips and suggestions from her experiences on selling your essays and publishing your memoir.
The book concludes with a short Epilogue that shares some of what you get when you write from life. Things like enrichment, changing relationships, and giving your life meaning. There is also an Appendix that contains a short recommended reading list and a number of pages of writing exercises and a couple of tips regarding using computers for your writing.
Overall, I enjoyed reading this book, and found it to have some great advice for writing in general, and especially for writing essays and memoirs. If you are interested in this type of writing, I recommend this book. Not only for the practical advice it contains, but also for the motivation and inspiration reading it provides.