Book Review – Never Say You Can’t Survive

This was a book that I had picked up at New York Comic-Con in… probably 2021. The full title of this how-to book on writing by Charlie Jane Anders is Never Say You Can’t Survive: How to Get Through Hard Times by Making Up Stories. It has been some time since I’ve read this type of book, so I thought that this would be a good time to delve back in to learning how to improve my writing process.

This book also won the 2022 Hugo Award for Best Related Work.

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Here is the blurb:

Things are scary right now. We’re all being swept along by a tidal wave of history, and it’s easy to feel helpless. But we’re not helpless: we have minds, and imaginations, and the ability to visualize other worlds and valiant struggles. And writing can be an act of resistance that reminds us that other futures and other ways of living are possible.

Full of memoir, personal anecdote, and insight about how to flourish during the present emergency, Never Say You Can’t Survive is the perfect manual for creativity in unprecedented times.


I did enjoy this book and I felt like I learned some useful tips. It has found a space on the back portion of my desk where I keep books about writing for easy reference. I have also read two of this author’s novels, so I was able to understand the given examples when she references those stories. One of them (All the Birds in the Sky), was one of my favorite books I read in 2019, review here.

Never Say You Can’t Survive is divided into 5 sections, roughly on these topics:

  1. Getting Started – this deals with creating characters.
  2. What’s a Story and How Do You Find One? – this is about how to take a premise and turn it into a story.
  3. Your Feelings Are Valid – And Powerful – this is about using emotions to write effectively.
  4. What We Write About When We Write About Spaceships – this section tackles using your political and social outlook to say something in your writing.
  5. How to Use Writerly Tricks to Gain Unstoppable Powers – this contains some specific tips on the mechanics of writing: point-of-view, structure, tone, etc.

If you are just getting started as a writer, this book isn’t the place to start, as it doesn’t deal with the basics. But if you have some writing experience already and want to look at some finer points in how to craft stories, I think this volume may be helpful.

Have you read this book? Do you think it will be helpful to your writing? Let me know in the comments (above).

Find more of my reviews here.

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