A Book About Writing That Might Change Your Life

You may not feel your life needs changing.  You may be sick of books about writing. 

Both of those feelings, by the way, are warning signs. 

Then again, you may share the belief that we can never learn too much, that we should never stop seeking to improve and evolve (like the word or not, that’s just “change” by another name).

Wouldn’t it be great if there was a book about writing that had the power to change your life?  Or — stated just as validly here — wouldn’t it be great if there was a book about life that had the power to change your writing?

A book that might inspire you to rewrite the story of your life going forward?  And at the same time, showed you the empowering principles of storytelling in a way you’ve never exerpienced before?

Because the pages that remain in our book are still unwritten.  They are blank. Sometimes we forget that.

What if the lines between your life and your work as a writer melted away?  If there was a book that could show how the structure and narrative principles of a great story have much in common with the structure and narrative principles of a rich and happy life?

You are the narrator of your own life.  We forget that, too. Question is, will it be in first person, or third? 

I’ve  found such a book. 

It was a New York Times bestseller, by the way, so I’m not pitching you an obscure little volume from some dark corner of the new age community.  No, this is the real deal.  Especially if you’re a writer.

It’s called A Million Miles In A Thousand Years, by Donald Miller.

What’s your story?

This book asks you to consider an important question, and in two realms: what are you writing… and, what story are you living?

It does it through the author’s experience of having written a successful memoir (also a NY Times bestseller, called Blue Like Jazz) that was optioned as a movie.  When the producer came into Miller’s life to begin the scripting process, the author discovered an empowered writer’s sensiblity and the essential nature of story structure.

Donald Miller was blown away at what he learned.  Not just about making a movie, but about how life parallels a great story in many respects.  And how writing the rest of his life in first person could be the difference he was looking for.

His publisher, Thomas Nelson, wasn’t crazy about a book that showed how storytelling and living life were kindred philosophies.  But being one of their top A-List authors, Miller prevailed, and the book went forward. 

Much of the narrative is a real-time accounting of the process of adapting his book into a movie (that, in itself, is fascinating), and how, in doing so, Miller realized the story he was living didn’t conform to the principles that make a narrative story work, at least in an optimal, rewarding and productive way.

And so Miller began writing a different story for himself, one with spectacular results.

I encourage you to experience this book. 

As a writer, you already know your passion for stories and your passion for life are linked at the very core of both pursuits.  This book aims directly for that very personal place, and when it gets there, it will light you on fire.

Miller is a Christian author — nothing wrong with that — but if that is a yellow flag for you… not to worry.  This is a book for everybody, from any belief system, and it isn’t selling religion.  Not even close.  What spiritual message you’ll find there — and you will find it there — is framed as the author’sown experience, and even the most cynical of readers won’t be put off by it.  Indeed, this book is for them, as well.

Rather that this book being overtly spiritual, it instead reminds us that those remaining pages of our lives remain unwritten, and that we have the power to fill them with whatever story we choose.

Here on Storyfix I’ve many times encouaged you to write with courage and passion.  Maybe it’s time we live our life that way, too.

Also, almost as a delightful sidenote, Miller’s writing is spectacular.  His wit is dry and edgy, his heart open and his narrative as clean and crisp as it gets.  If you’re looking for an example of concise yet compelling voice, an example of how a less-is-more sensiblity and unabashed vulnerability can serve a writer, this is the book.

Writing is life.  Life is writing.  We all fall somewhere on that continuum.  Donald Miller has cast a bright and hopeful light on that path. 

Click the image below to read reviews and the first chapter.

Click here to go to Donald Miller’s website.

Click here to read a cool article about the author on CNN Living.

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life

Storyfix is an Amazon.com affiliate.


Filed under Book reviews for writers

13 Responses to A Book About Writing That Might Change Your Life

  1. Hi Larry,

    How have you been? I hope all is well your way.

    I’m delighted to see you feature this book here. I happened across it not too long ago and devoured it. I concur with your words. Everything.

    Thumbs up and thanks again for your work here and around the ‘sphere.
    Warmly, ~ Lori

  2. Larry, your enthusiasm for this book made me add it to my list before I even got halfway through the post. Thanks so much!

  3. Mae

    Thanks for ALL your blogs on story structure. You put a new twist on the needed topic every time. I am a faithful reader of story fix and hope you continue to enlighten us. I am looking for this book on my kindle.

  4. Curtis

    While we are on the subject of “what is your life,” we might as well hear, ” remember, your life is a work of art.”

    That from Abraham Heschell, from the introduction to ” I Asked for Wonder.” After Heschell, who was an hasidic Rabbi to hear, “your life is a story,” is a excellent variation on the theme.

  5. Thanks for the rec, Larry. I’m downloading it on my new Kindle 🙂

  6. JKLambert

    I can always count on finding good stuff for the writing life on your site. Thanks so much for the link to this amazing book. I am definitely buying it. Right after I finish Mindmapping Part One – The Set Up for my Work In Progress. Mindmeister is awesome to use when trying to remember and implement all the wonderful ideas of Storyfix into a type of whiteboard space that allows you to make sure you have the Hook, the Inciting Incident, Forshadowing and Character Traits on par with the FPP. Thank you so much for this wonderful blog. You Da’ Man!!!

  7. My sister-in-law’s been after me to read Miller’s Blue Like Jazz for months. This put me over the edge: I just ordered both. Thanks for the recommendation, Larry!

  8. Hi Larry, I clicked over from your ProBlogging guest post. Great book review, will check it out! I believe I have said this before, and am apologizing in advance… but you really should get a spellchecker… sorry, proofreading is kind of in my job description. But on the other hand your little typos tend to make you more genuine, so maybe don’t change a thing!

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  10. This really is a life changing book and you can imagine my surprise and delight when after reading your title and thinking, “huh, it better not be Catcher in the Rye” I discovered that it was Million Miles. I think writers in particular will be blown away by this book as they see how the story structure they work with in fiction is suddenly reworked to challenge their own lives; but I have friends who aren’t writers who were blown away by this book, too. So glad you felt the same way.

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  12. Hi, Larry,
    Thank you for blogging about A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. Read it. LOVED it! and I’ve been following Donald Miller on Twitter since finishing it. And that’s how I found out that the movie Blue Like Jazz is in jeopardy and may not be released.
    I blogged about that and made a reference to this post by you, because you did such a great job of explaining the value of Miller’s work.

    Thank you,

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