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4.6 out of 5 stars70
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 11 June 2005
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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on 30 August 2000
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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on 13 April 2006
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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on 20 November 2000
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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on 26 September 2000
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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on 3 July 2005
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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on 23 July 1999
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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on 6 September 2000
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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on 12 April 2007
This book will not tell you how to write a great novel. Nor the secrets to plot and character development. What this book will do is help you make the most of those tendencies that impel you to want to write. Written in the 1920's and still popular now, this is a vital tool for those wanting to enhance whatever compulsion to write that they already possess. Buy this book and begin to write. You never know where it will get you. And never, ever, let technical quandries mire your creative spirit.
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on 22 October 2012
I'm a writer. Although I love to watch films and TV, listen to music, go the the theatre and read widely, I do find it hard to write with other people's words still in my head. A bit of space is necessary between the activities for my own words to arrive.

Picking up Dorothea Brande's book, 'Becoming a Writer' which I haven't looked at for years, I opened it randomly at page 133 and under the heading Wordless Recreation, her words were;

"If you want to stimulate yourself into writing, amuse yourself in a wordless way. Instead of going to a theater, hear a symphony orchestra, or go by yourself to a museum; go alone for long walks, or ride by yourself on a bus top."

I realised that she's absolutely right. When I do any of these things they do very often stimulate my writing, even although this is not the reason I'm doing them. Ok I don't go to listen to symphony orchestras. My musical tastes are more in folk, rock and blues music and I acknowledge that passionate lyrics can interfere with my own creativity.

On the other hand I find visiting museums and galleries by myself hugely exciting. I can look at exactly what I like and spend an hour on the minutiae of one exhibit if I want to, without boring anyone else to death or having to follow them to the toilet/cafe/shop every five minutes. And going on journeys alone, whether on foot, train, bus, car, boat or plane takes me into other worlds, where my imagination is freed.

Dorothea Brande's book is full of great insights like this. When it was first recommended to me I nearly didn't bother to read it because it was written so long ago. I felt she couldn't possibly tell me anything relevant to my generation and my writing. She'd never even seen a computer, for heavens' sake! But I did read it and from her wise and totally unpretentious words I realised that I had already become a writer and she also showed me how to carry on being a writer.

So, have you given up on all those starry-eyed, pseudo-spiritual books on writing which appear everywhere? Are you even more fed up with the 'How to Write a Best-Seller in Six Days/Six Chapters/Six Websites' genre, then I can recommend going back to basics with Dorothea Brande. It doesn't matter what you are trying to write: fiction, poetry, journalism, scripts, memoir or even academic theses. She can help remind you of how the process of writing works in your own mind. She really can!
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