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Becoming a Writer Paperback – 1 Jan 1981

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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Jeremy P Tarcher (1 Jan. 1981)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0874771641
  • ISBN-13: 978-0874771640
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 1.4 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 15,539 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

Refreshingly slim, beautifully written and deliciously elegant, Dorothea Brande's Becoming a Writer remains evergreen decades after it was first written. Brande believed passionately that although people have varying amounts of talent, anyone can write. It's just a question of finding the "writer's magic"--a degree of which is in us all. She also insists that writing can be both taught and learned. So she is enraged by the pessimistic authors of so many writing books who rejoice in trying to put off the aspiring writer by constantly stressing how difficult it all is.

With close reference to the great writers of her day--Wolfe, Forster, Wharton and so on--Brande gives practical but inspirational advice about finding the right time of day to write and being very self disciplined about it--"You have decided to write at four o'clock, and at four o'clock you must write." She's strong on confidence building and there's a lot about cheating your unconscious which will constantly try to stop you writing by coming up with excuses. Then there are exercises to help you get into the right frame of mind and to build up writing stamina.

This edition comes with an informative foreword by the late Malcolm Bradbury, a man who knew a thing or two about teaching writing, having pioneered the innovative MA course in creative writing at the University of East Anglia which nurtured, among many other writers, Rose Tremain, Ian McEwan and Kazuo Ishiguro. It's a pity, however, that Brande (and Bradbury) define "writing" so narrowly. They refer only to novels and short stories--ignoring biography, travel writing, plays, poems, essays and reportage. In fact, Brande is unreasonably dismissive of journalism as if it were just an uncreative, prostituted form of "real" writing. --Susan Elkin --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


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So, having made my apologies, and stated my belief, I am going, from now on, to address myself solely to those who hope to write. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

101 of 103 people found the following review helpful By Rp Garner on 11 Jun. 2005
Format: Paperback
I can't believe I'm the first person to reivew this book which has to be one of the best known and best loved of all 'how to' books ever written. It does not tell you how to write - it tells you how to become a writer and it's probably best to read it before you start writing. It tells you how to balance your writing life with the rest of your life, and how to keep your editorial self and your creative self working in harmony. It gives you exercises to develop the writing habit and, quite early on, it does something so brave, I've not seen it repeated in any other guide. It tells you, if you can't manage the exercises, to stop.
"If you fail repeatedly at this exercise, give up writing. Your resistance is actually greater than your desire to write, and you may as well find some other outlet for your energy early as late."
Right, now why was that so refreshing? Becuase she wrote it in 1934 and we're no longer used to such straight talking. Almost makes you feel like a grown up.
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55 of 56 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 30 Aug. 2000
Format: Paperback
I have been a published writer for eight years, and I must have read a mountain of books on writing. Dorothea Brande's book is without any question the most helpful of them all.
I would go as far as saying it is the ONLY book that has made any real impact on my work. If you have always wanted to be a writer but have lacked a certain confidence, or energy, read this book. If you are already a successful writer but find your work a stuggle, read this book.
Dorothea Brande is a very clever woman who shows in her book an unmatched understanding of the psychology of a writer - and uses this understanding to expertly encouage the reader's development. A strict but nurturing teacher, many great writers have and will benefit from her work.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Aude Noughty on 13 April 2006
Format: Paperback
There is only one guide on how to become a fully fledged writer of fiction and this is it. The rest are footnotes. First published in 1934, it is still published because it works. Many have used it, some have plagiarised it (the Artist's Way being chief among suspects) none have bettered it. There's only one book that can help the budding author as much and that is McKee's "Story".
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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 20 Nov. 2000
Format: Paperback
Despite the fact that this book was written in 1934 it is perhaps one of the most useful books to have on your bookshelf in terms of writing. It deals with the nuts and bolts of getting down to the task of writing consistently and offers essential advice on overcoming psychological blocks to writing. Even though some of the advice may be slightly outdated its essential message is not. If you are looking for ways to motivate yourself to write consistently this is the book.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 26 Sept. 2000
Format: Paperback
If you want to write but are not sure what to write about, this is the book for you. It helps you get into the habit of effortless daily writing and, at the same time, discover what you need to write about. It also teaches the trick to make the words rush to your pen: wordless recreation. Read this one before entering a writing class or reading books on technique and style.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 3 July 2005
Format: Paperback
First published in 1934 this wonderful book on becoming a writer is brilliant for writers at any stage in their career. Morning pages, often associated with The Artists Way, are one of the practices discussed between the covers. Although, the synopsis written here is accurate it lacks the passion that infuses the words of Dorethea Brande.
Brande's honest and straightforward writing is worthy of your attention and I recommend it as one of the best books on living the writer's life.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 23 July 1999
Format: Paperback
This was written in the 1930s. O.K. let that put you off if you want...but you'll be missing out - because it's a sure bet that all the modern writers telling you how to be inspired from within have got their ideas from Dorothea Brande. It's padded out (but doesn't actually lose a lot through this), and it shows its age (But only through talk of typewriters 'stead of compies). This is the true writer's bible - because it tells you how to FIND your writers instinct. And if you've always longed to write, then you've probably already got it and will be much pleased with yourself! - if not, get it out now with this book! I'm not sure if it would be all that suitable for those who are already writing, but it's certainement a must for aspiring writers. If you believe you're already a writer, but have never written anything (or anything decent), or even if you haven't reached this first stage of ACTING like a writer yet, get this book!! This is the first stage to BECOMING a real, true writer, GET THE TECHNICAL BOOKS LATER. I dip in for inspiration - and I adore being a writer all the more for it.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 6 Sept. 2000
Format: Paperback
When I read this book I felt as if DB was talking about me. Almost everything she said seemed to relate directly to my own experience. She mentions stages I know I have passed through, and problems I experience now. I felt as if she was a friend who really understood - who was willing to take me by the hand and explain to me the mysteries of a writer's psyche, and how to harness my talent. Unlike other books on writing I have read I really didn't want to put it down - I felt addicted to her wisdom and the crystal clarity of her insights. I have heard many people recommend this book, and once I had read it I understood why. If you want to write fiction, I really think you should read it too.
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