Nov 09, Stuart Aken rated it it was amazing On 13 September, I posted a piece on the difficulties that often beset writers on my blog. In that post I mentioned Dorothea Brandes excellent book, Becoming a Writer, and, having discovered I had never actually reviewed this seminal work, promised I would do so. I re-read the book, and heres that review. As budding writers, were all faced with a bewildering panoply of books on the techniques of the craft. As beginners, this huge bulk of work on how to perform the miracle many of us see as On 13 September, I posted a piece on the difficulties that often beset writers on my blog.
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It was originally published in and has been much imitated since. Sounds great, but is it worth reading? I found this book hard going and not easy to read.
The old-fashioned sentence construction sent me to sleep and there are far too many words. Brande never uses five words when she could use 20 instead. I also had problems with the general tone. It was like being browbeaten by a literary snob for hours. Yet instruction in writing is oftenest aimed at the oblivious tradesman of fiction, and the troubles of the artist are dismissed or overlooked.
Brande claims the things that stop you from writing are character defects that need to be corrected. Now this may be the case, but putting it in those terms is hardly encouraging. Her intention is to teach you how to be a writer.
And keep writing. The problems come when other things get in the way of your ability to do that. One of the ways she says you can get into the habit of writing every day is to train yourself to write at a set time. You make an appointment with yourself, and then you have to keep it — you must write — no excuses. The idea is to get your unconscious used to writing on command.
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. I would suggest an alternative approach: explore the nature of your resistance and find a way to overcome it. To give you an idea of the amount of waffle you have to wade through in this book, the following sentence summarises one entire chapter: The practice of writing on command and morning pages will help you to find your voice as a writer, and train you to avoid the pitfalls of imitation.
She also encourages you to look at your life regularly to decide whether your routines are supportive of your writing. This is a good idea and you can figure out what works and make changes as necessary. Or perhaps she thought it was an unhealthy habit not to be encouraged in sensitive young artists. I would also suggest ignoring the bad advice she gives on holing your mind still. Becoming a Writer may have been a breakthrough for writers back in the 30s and 40s, but there are many, many books like this now and most of them will be more relevant and probably more helpful than this one.
But if you enjoy being lectured by a pompous literary wit, this is the book for you!
Becoming a Writer : The Classic Bestseller
Becoming a writer
Becoming a Writer
Review: Becoming a Writer – Dorothea Brande