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Becoming a Writer

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Book Overview

A reissue of a classic work published in 1934 on writing and the creative process, Becoming a Writer recaptures the excitement of Dorothea Brande's creative writing classroom of the 1920s. Decades... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

4 ratings

Stepping into a Wise Elder's Presence.....

I adore this book - it was like going to my favorite elderly neighbor's house for a cup of tea and finding out all her best secrets about her area of giftedness. The language Miss Brande uses is reflective of her time - she uses phrases I would never think to use... and I delighted in each turn of the letter, each loving bit of guidance and suggestion. "Becoming a Writer" reminded me of "So You Want to Write" by Brenda Ueland, though this book feels more structured to me and less conversational. Her ideas are echoed in the modern works of writers such as Julia Cameron. She offers many exercises and manners of stretching yourself as a writer, offered to make your uniqueness more pronounced and aid in your quest to do exactly what the title says, become a writer. Her concluding chapter: "In conclusion: Some Prosaic Pointers" is flawless and timeless, even as it speaks of the necessity for two typewriters (substitute computers). I am so glad I finally read this book, one I had heard referred to for such a long time. It is truly a classic to be loved, to be returned to, and to be treasured for all times.

the key to the writer's magic.

Becoming a Writer is unlike any other writing book on the market today. As Brande says in the introduction, even then, back in 1934, there were several books on writing, and most of them are about the basic riles of storytelling, organisational problems, and so on. This book is different. You will find nothing about plot, dialogue, structure, beginnings, endings here. Nothing about the actual nuts and bolts of writing. 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. In fact, any writer who has dabbled a little bit in the so-called "spiritual arts" would be capable of putting together a how-to treatise on writing, painting, dancing, or any other form of creativity, a how-to-do book on writing just by filling it with Buddhist sound-bites.The thing about Brande is that she said it first, and said it best. This book is pioneer work; in 1934 George Harrison had not yet gone to India to set off the boom in meditation, and we were not yet informed on the validity of "right-brained" thinking. She then goes on to talk about the interplay between the unconscious and the conscious mind, for the latter does have a role to play in he process or writing.The unconscious, says Brande, is shy, elusive, and unwieldy, but it is possible to learn to tap it at will, and even to direct it. The conscious mind, on the other hand, is meddlesome, opinionated, and arrogant, but it can be made subservient to the inborn talent through training. What wonderful, inspiring words! What courage they installed in me, when I first read them!The rest of the book tells us how, exactly, to tap the wealth of the unconscious mind. She provides exercises and practical examples of what can be done to get the those buried stories richly flowing. She plants that seed of knowledge in your soul which will tell you "This is it", and will catapult you - as if by magic! - out of the slough of despond and into the actual work of a w

Brande was into 'morning pages' before they were cool.

One of Dorothea Brande's first practical suggestions is getting into the habit of writing in the morning, every morning. Books like 'The Artist's Way' adopt this technique as a central method almost as if they were proposing a novel idea. 'Becoming a Writer' is full of lots of suggestions which have been taken up and elaborated by more contemporary 'how to write' methods. Her advice is gentle and general. You won't find much about literary technique or stylistic concerns but you will find techniques for opening yourself to the process of writing and finding the courage to discover your own style. This book is insightful and inspirational. Personally, I find myself rebelling against more formal writing methods that require me to do x number of things during week y and report on it in the journal. This type of writing advice is too pedantic for my taste. 'Becoming a Writer' offers general advice and allows a degree of freedom that I find liberating. As nurturing as Brande's approach is, she can be brutally honest about deciding whether or not your desire to write is greater than your resistance to writing. In a two paragraph section called 'Succeed, or Stop Writing', she inspired in me more discipline than a dozen other writing books have ever managed to do.

essential reading

I bought this book by "accident" when I was in New York in 1981. I cried when I read it, for I KNEW I was going to be a writer, a thing to grand for me to ever even imagine. It took a few years but last year I had my first novel published in England (of marriageable age): several translations, and huge advances. This is the book that started me off. I owe everything to it. Every aspiring author should read it.
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