Review of Work Hard, Not Smart

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Work Hard, Not Smart: How to Make A Messy Literary Life by Alexis Paige (Vine Leaves Press, Feb. 2022) was written for writers like me who seek effective ways to learn the craft of writing, and yet who also struggle with focus and inattention. As someone who can relate to the ADHD-Inattentive Type diagnosis, I appreciated the story of how she came up with the title for her book.
This book was a memoir as well as an instruction manual in how to write, and I was thoroughly entertained by the author’s stories and insights. How could I not relate to essays and stories of the author’s life, as she explored the different aspects of a writer’s journey? I nodded along in agreement in each section as she explored the challenges, successes, and failures that she met along the way.
Although I am coming into writing late in life, I enjoyed the way Paige braided stories about how her writing journey, how she offered advice about the craft as she included it with chapters about her personal life, including infidelity and first-time journalism jobs. I appreciated her honesty, her point of view that analyzes mistakes without the accompanying self-reproach, and the most important element of who we are writing for: our readers.

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