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Saturday, May 4, 2013

Dorothea Brande's Becoming a Writer

LUV, LUV, LUV this one! Becoming a Writer was copyrighted in 1934 and proves that universal techniques withstand the test of time. If I were to list all the best parts of her book here in this post, I would pretty much have to retype all 186 pages.

Last night I read through Brande's work in one sitting, after having copyedited another one hundred pages earlier in the day. I'll be rereading this favorite over and over.

Dorothea wrote this book to address internal problems authors sometimes have to deal with: lack of self-esteem/self-confidence/self-respect, the one-book-wonder hurdle, the blank page aka writer's block and people who tell you that you shouldn't be a writer.

No wonder I appreciate her writing so; I too feel that self-esteem is a matter to contend with, no matter what your life's career, and have many posts here on my blog that speak to that very topic.

I was grinning, nodding my head throughout my intake of her viewpoint. She confirmed many beliefs I have long held. However, if you are more of a nuts-and-bolts person, needing to see and hold the problem so you can fix it, you may not get as much out of this book as I did.

Per Dorothea, we have all been given levels of genius within, and it is possible to find the writing magic when we need it. Her positivity draws me in, wraps me in its warmth and makes me smile.

[Unlike judgmentalism, criticality, closed-mindedness, each of which repels. Don't hang around people like this!]

Dorothea states each author is really three parts: the unconscious, the conscious and the genius. And we need to learn to work each separately as the gifts are different. Like the creative side should not be mixed with the internal editing side.

She offers homework suggestions that are simple yet sublime. One is morning pages (like Julia Cameron proposed years later). Dorothea has us analyze ours in a later assignment. Yet she proposes this wonderful take on how your morning pages can define whether you are more inclined to be an essayist, a short story creator or a novelist. Amazing.

Take note of her title: Becoming a Writer. Dorothea focuses on the being, not the doing, while shooting down the common stereotypes for writers. So there are no tips about character development or plotting outlines.

However, there is much on training the mind of the author to seek out its genius and magic.


Denise Barker, author + blogger + copy editor

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