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Becoming a Writer Paperback – Mar 1 1981
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Even in 1934, Dorothea Brande knew that most writers didn't need another book on "technique" -- and this, before so many more would be published. No, she realized, as John Gardner notes in his foreword, "the root problems of the writer are personality problems," and thus her wise book is designed to simply help you get over yourself and start writing, with techniques ranging from a simple declaration to write every day at a fixed time -- no matter what -- to exercises that come close to inventing the TM and self-actualization movements that would follow a few decades later.
About the Author
John Gardner is Professor of English at Southern Illinois University. His previous books include a modernized English version of "The Complete Works of the Gawain-Poet "and a recently published novel, "The Wreckage of Agathon."
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Top Customer Reviews
MAYBE: You're enrolled in a creative writing course, and the teacher says "Write a five page story for next week about the wind." You go home, look at that blank white page, say "The wind?!?", and freeze up.
OR: You want desperately to write a screenplay, you can sort of intuitively feel the final movie-going experience in your mind - the high passion, the breathless action, the laughter, the tears - but no sooner do you type "FADE IN", than it all goes blank.
OR: The boss wants a report a month from now, but you know you can only write when you have a deadline looming, so you wait until the last minute and hope that stress and coffee can succeed where self-discipline failed.
You need Becoming A Writer, the best book on the writer's creative process I've ever read. It should be the foundational book in your library, and the first thing you read starting out in the writing game. Gather up all your other books on technique and structure and character and prose - and I know you've got some, don't lie - put 'em up on the shelf for a while, and read this one first.
Her technique consists of two writing sessions a day.
Now, I know what you're saying: "Twice a day! I haven't got time for twice a month!" Take it easy. Two BRIEF sessions a day, even as little as fifteen minutes each. You can find the time. You write once in the morning - pre-coffee - to let your creative subconscious take flight unhindered. Then you write again later, at a specified time, to learn discipline.Read more ›
Brande is trying to reach the writer who is not yet sure he/she is a writer. The shy, insecure artist who believes that somehow there is a magic to writing, a magic that other, successful writers have and which has somehow eluded him. And who desperately longs to find a key to that magic.
This book provides that key.
Brande goes on to talk about the artistic temperament, and th eneed to cultivate spontaneity, and innocence of eye, as well as the ability to respond freshly and quickly to new scenes, and to old scenes as though they were new, and to see "traits and characteristics as though each were new-minted from the hand of God".
Stories, Brande says, are formed in the unconscious mind, which must flow freely and richly, bringing at demand all the" treasures of memory, all the emotions, scenes, incidents, intimations of character and relationship" which is stored away beyond our awareness.
This book is about tapping that rich store in the unconscious mind.
These days there are all kinds of workshops and books about creativity, tapping the unconscious, using meditation to reach the inner artist, and so on.Read more ›
I found the chapters on reading as a writer most helpful as I do so much reading and therefore wish to learn as much as I can while doing so. And I was most amazed at the insight that Ms. Brande had with respect to how the mind works. She seems to be well ahead of her times, and I'm not so sure that many would find fault with her take on how genius or "empty mind" is to be encouraged and enhanced.
In short, this book is well worth the read and should be on any aspiring writer's shelf. I give it a three out of five rating (and then only because there are more current volumes that provide this information). I am pleased to have spent the time reading this book.
Ms. Brande, writing in 1934, speaks of "the two sides of the writer." One side is the author, with the child's innocence of eye, spontaneous, sensitive, able to respond freshly and quickly to new scenes. The other side is the artisan, adult, discriminating, temperate and just. Right brain, left brain.
Brande advocates separating the two and gives a series of exercises designed to train the author side to respond willingly. By careful self-training the writer/reader will harness the unconscious and harvest its benefits.
Try the exercises -- they work.
If you're interested in writing or just in how creative processes work, you'll find this an amazing and useful book.
Most recent customer reviews
I have an old paper copy of this book and recenty bought an ecopy. As the title states, the The ecopy needs more proofreading. Read morePublished on June 23 2014 by Amazon Customer
I was intrigued to read Dorothea Brande's "Becoming A Writer" because even though I write - and write about writing - non-fiction, I find there is a lot of merit in learning about... Read morePublished on March 14 2010 by Suzan St Maur
Brande's timeless classic is the mother of writer's inspirational books and still in print. I swear other writers steal from her exercises to fill their writing books. Read morePublished on Oct. 23 2003 by Linnea
My first favorite is Steven King's "On Writing." This one runs a close second. It's inspirational, practical in most respects, and best of all, it's about the writers... Read morePublished on March 18 2003 by Katherine
Not only outdated, this book is impracticable, condescending, and pedantic. Unless you need inspiration, spirituality, and out-dated advice, I would suggest you spend your money... Read morePublished on Oct. 8 2002
If you tried to do all her exercises as you read the book, it would take at least six months. So as you read, just imagine the exercises--that'll do the trick. Read morePublished on Sept. 6 2002 by Robert F. Pope Jr.
While written decades ago, this book presents incisive and on-point advice for those who would write. Read morePublished on Aug. 26 2002 by Louise Foerster
Sorry, didn't like it! Outdated, and full of pedantic instructions, such as, you must set time aside to write, you must write, you must read, etc. Read morePublished on Aug. 5 2002
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