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Becoming a Writer Paperback – 1 Jan 1981
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Describes a writer's temperament and how to develop a writer's habits, originality, and insight, imitate exemplary works, read critically, and overcome writing difficulties.
About the Author
Born in Chicago, Dorothea Brande (1893-1948) was a widely respected journalist, fiction writer, and writing instructor. Brande is widely known for her enduring guide to the creative process, Becoming a Writer, originally published in 1934 and still popular today. In 1936, Brande published a masterwork of practical psychology, Wake Up and Live! The book entered more than 34 printings and sold more than 1 million copies. For many years, Wake Up and Live!, with its simple and sound advice for personal excellence, rivaled the popularity of contemporaneous works such as Think and Grow Rich and How to Win Friends and Influence People.
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Dorothea Brande has a no-nonsense style which I really enjoyed. There are so many exercises and advice that are unique to this book. You may have read some of the advice before, but remember this book was published in the 1930s so chances are the others are imitations.
She tells you in no uncertain terms that if you can't stick to the time schedule of the initial exercises then you might as well give up writing. It is so refreshing to hear real advice like this rather than the usual wishy-washy just-call-yourself-a-writer dumbed down advice. Give me Dorothea Brande any day.
I am now well aware of the commitment it will take to improve my writing and I have a far better idea of what I'd been missing all this time. I wish I hadn't put off buying into the "writers' magic" for so long.
Although esoteric I would certainly recommend this book for anyone who is beginning their journey as a writer. However, I am sure most experienced writers would also find it interesting.
It tells nothing of the technicalities for creating outlines, characters, or anything of that nature. The author makes this fully clear at the beginning, and tells you to look elsewhere for that advice. It does, however, deal with how to tap into your own natural talents as a priority; how to be yourself instead of an imitator of others methods and styles, and how to appropriately critique the works of others to help you identify with your own natural skills.
For a book that was written so early in the last century, it still holds a tremendous relevance, and I'm so glad I was pointed in this direction so early in my desire to learn the craft. I'm sure the more advanced author would have found their road less challenged if they had this book earlier too. If you're an existing writer suffering writer's block - this book explains how to avoid and release it.
It may come across as simplistic. There are times when keeping it simple is most certainly the best way, so please persevere and take on board the recommendations and comments.
I had promised to pass on my copy to a professional colleague, though as I progressed in the reading, I knew I wouldn't be able to part with it, so I gifted a copy of their own to them instead. So I would certainly recommend this to anyone as the best place to start if you're feeling that you've something to write/say.
It's worth the cover price just for the pendulum exercise to see how easy it is to influence your mind for good or bad. Some of the other wisdom, like getting out of your own way, are found in modern books like the Artist's Way, but they're simply not as much fun! A far better and shorter book than many of the other modern tomes of theory, characters or openings that litter my shelves.
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