Use Your Words: A Writing Guide for Mothers

Use Your Words: A Writing Guide for Mothers is a guide to the art of creative nonfiction for women who want to give written expression to their lives as mothers. The book includes excerpts of quality writing about motherhood and teaches readers how to find the heart of their writing, learn to use motherhood as a lens through which to write the world, and turn their motherhood stories into art. Use Your Words is a book for both beginning mother writers and more advanced writers who want to improve their writing ability as they process the gritty, mundane, often-funny, and sometimes heartbreaking nature of parenthood. The book includes writing by Cecelie Berry, Jill Christman, Judith Ortiz Cofer, Chitra Divakaruni, Beth Kephart, Catherine Newman, among others.

Available from IndieBoundPowell’sAmazon or Barnes and Noble. Now also available as an audiobook here.


Discussion Questions and Writing Group Guide

I am available to phone or Skype in to book groups and writing groups that are reading Use Your Words. (And, if you’re in the Twin Cities, I’m happy to come by in person!) Please contact me if you’d like to set up a visit.

Please feel free to download the Use Your Words discussion questions and writing group guide.


Praise for Use Your Words

“Unlike some writing resources that can come off as somewhat condescending, Hopper’s voice is approachable and kind, making this an easy read with clear lessons. The tone is perfectly balanced for those with a wide range of writing experience and ability. Established writers will be reminded to return to and strengthen the basics and those without any formal training will find lessons that are quick to grasp and, with practice, will improve the quality of their work. I found immediate inspiration from Use Your Words to work on my own projects and gratification when Hopper’s approach helped me to see areas that I could further develop. Hopper’s stated goal is to increase the legitimacy of narratives told by mothers. It seems clear that she wants you to succeed in telling your story and uses a gentle hand to push you to dig deep in order to do so.”


“Many of us mama-bloggers have stumbled into our particular subject matter without giving much thought to what we are doing. Luckily for this second-rate Erma Bombeck, the lovely, smart, thoughtful writer Kate Hopper has just published Use Your Words: A Writing Guide for Mothers, which offers great guidance for writing about your family.”

“Kate Hopper is warm, encouraging and someone who knows her stuff… For mothers looking to publish or just make sense of a story gestating in their heads, Use Your Words is a good place to start.”
Brain, Child

“Part writing workshop, part anthology, part mothers’ group between two covers, Use Your Words is so much more than an instruction manual. It is also a readable, powerful call to the page for every woman in the process of giving birth to herself as a writer. If you have ever wondered whether motherhood is a viable literary subject, or whether you have a mothering story worth telling, Kate Hopper’s beautifully written book will answer that question once and for all – with compelling excerpts, exercises to inspire you, and clear, practical teachings on matters of voice, structure, and style.”  —Katrina Kenison, author of The Gift of an Ordinary Day and Mitten Strings for God

“Kate Hopper’s Use Your Words demonstrates how the universal experiences of motherhood can be transformative through storytelling, and offers practical, thoughtful, and insightful guidance to any writer interested in the process of translating life experience into story.”
—Andrea Buchanan, author of The Daring Book for Girls, Mother Shock: Loving Every (Other) Minute of It, and six other books

“Kate Hopper has been teaching writing for years, and she brings all her experience to bear in Use Your Words, a writing guide that’s a pleasure to read. The book is both deeply personal and quite rigorous, offering examples from a range of writers to illustrate how good writing works, plus targeted exercises to let readers practice their craft. Use Your Words will help any writer, beginning or experienced, reckon with the messy stuff of life and shape it into memoir.”   —Caroline Grant, Editor-in-Chief, Literary Mama, co-editor of Mama, PhD: Women Write About Motherhood and Academic Life and The Cassoulet Saved Our Marriage: True Tales of Food, Family, and How We Learn to Eat (forthcoming fall 2012)

Use Your Words brings a unique voice to the world of writing guides: honest, forthright, funny. Reading it felt to me no different than sitting down to have a writing tête-à-tête with a literary friend and practicing writer. Because it is real, the voice welcomes beginners with trustworthy invitations to reach deep, and it also speaks to the practicing writer with new levels of insight about writing motherhood literature. It’s totally original in that it covers the specific areas where the experience of motherhood fires—and complicates—the task of writing. The true brilliance of Use Your Words is voice. When a teacher/author takes a risk with voice and really bares herself, her students/readers can do no less than rise to the same challenge. Also, the book is funny! I thought I was reading it just for fun, and the surprise for me was the spur in the ribs I got to write and write well.”   —Bonnie J. Rough, author of Carrier: Untangling the Danger in My DNA

“Finally a book to teach parents how to write! In readable, interesting, practical prose, Use Your Words gives moms what they need to know to write about their children’s most precious moments. A tremendous resource for bloggers, teachers, lay and professional writers.”    —Jennifer Margulis, Ph.D., former contributing editor to Mothering Magazine and author of Toddler: Real-Life Stories of Those Fickle, Irrational, Urgent, Tiny People We Love

“Though Hopper filters her valuable information and help through the lens of writing about the transformative experience of becoming a mother, her words are, in fact, a course in creative nonfiction for anyone writing in this genre.”   —Sheila Bender, founder of Writing It Real and author of About a New Theology