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One Continuous Mistake (Arkana) [Paperback]

Gail Sher
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
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Book Description

30 Sep 1999 Arkana
Based on the Zen philosophy that we learn more from our failures than from our successes, "One Continuous Mistake" teaches a refreshing new method for writing as spiritual practice. In this unique guide for writers of all levels, Gail Sher

Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Arkana (30 Sep 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140195874
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140195873
  • Product Dimensions: 1.6 x 11.4 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 711,263 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Gail Sher is the author of eight books of poetry and one book on breadmaking, in addition to her books on writing. Awarded Teacher of the Year by the combined educational faculties of the University of California at Berkeley, Stanford University, and San Francisco State University, she has taught graduate classes in writing, psychology, and Zen for many years. She lives in Berkeley, California.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The book that changed my writing life forever 28 Feb 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I was given this book 5 years ago, one of many "writing self help books" which I read at the time. Its impact was profound and long lasting.

It is a cool, calm but confident approach to writing as a daily practice which transformed my sense of self from "someone who wanted to be a writer" to "someone who wrote"

What it demonstrated to me was that writing was a part of my whole identity, no more or less important than walking, drinking tea and eating bread. Writing is just part of the holistic ecology of a writer's life.

Sher's "Four Noble Truths for Writers" are

1. Writers write
2. Writing is a process
3. You don't know what your writing will be until the end of
that process
4. If writing is your practice, the only way to fail is not to

Very few exercises.
No daily affirmations or collages with glitter.
No daily targets to meet.
No dogma on structure or genre or format.
No advice on publication.

Just - You write.
Or not write.

And within hours of finishing the book I had started a daily writing practice which has continued more or less unbroken ever since.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Not a mistake! 13 Oct 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A great book which helps reads understand how to turn problems into posititive solutions! My daughter really apreciated it and I would also recommend it.
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Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Prior to reading this book, I had taken a distance learning writing course and read at least 3 self-help writing books. I had co-written a book and written several book reviews, but didn't really write unless I felt I had a good reason. I would carry on with my life and, from time to time, an idea would come to me and I might write a few hundred words, save it somewhere and forget about it.

In an idle moment, I came across Gail's book in a library. I wasn't looking for a book - I was in the library with my kids, primarily for the purpose of getting them something. But something about the title rang true for me. I knew intuitively that 'making mistakes' is what prevented me from writing. I rarely wrote for fear of making mistakes. So, what if the process of writing had an inherent quality of sifting through mistakes? If I took that on board, I could write every day and understand that I didn't necessarily need to wait for the perfect idea.

Having read Gail's book, I've written every day. Mostly tripe, I might add, but interspersed with the odd truffle. However, what I've learned from this wonderful book (this wonderful person), is that the end product is not the beginning - it is not present at the beginning. But, crucially, it must be begun. And that there is no avoiding the simple fact that, if you want to be a writer, you must first BE a writer.

So, whilst this book may not satisfy your thirst for very specific technical aspects of writing that crime thriller; it WILL force you to sit down and write. And it will help you to enjoy the process and learn something about yourself and the world in the process.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Will keep you thinking 8 Sep 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I first bought this about seven years ago and it eliminated my writer's block. It's message is simple but it's not a book on Zen - it just draws on some principles which are distilled into the 4 noble truths. These truths by the way can just as easily apply to any creative outlet - drawing, painting, pottery - as well as writing.

I could go on but Hester Thrale's review encapsulates everything I would say and I fully agree with it.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Poor Guide to Being a Writer 25 Sep 2008
By sanyata
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
While I love writing and I love Zen I found this book particularly pointless and also very much in line with the "Women's Magazines" way of coaching their readers into doing new things, (in this case to write).

As such, the book proceeds at a very even pace exploring the different feelings and connotations connected with the live of a writer but no *real* content on *how* to actually be Zen about writing. - This emphasis on thoughts and emotions is actually very un-Zen!

I am really looking forward to the day that a good book about the Zen of writing comes out, but unfortunately it has not happened yet.
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