Dorothea Brande’s BECOMING A WRITER–helping writers overcome behavioral problems

I found out about Dorothea Brande’s BECOMING A WRITER (ISBN 0-87477-164-1, published 1934, reprinted in 1981) the same way I did Ueland’s IF YOU WANT TO WRITE, by looking in the bibliography of Cameron’s THE ARTIST’S WAY.  And I’m so glad I did, for this book tackles several core behavioral problems that can plague writers.

The 1981 reprint also includes a forward by novelist and creative writing teacher John Gardner as a bonus. Here’s what he has to say about Brande’s book:

It’s an astonishing thing that Dorothea Brande’s Becoming A Writer should ever have fallen out of print, and a lucky thing it is now back in the light where it belongs.  The root problems of the writer, whether the writer is young or old, just starting out or much published, are no different today than in 1934….

Brande’s book is mostly about the psychology of writing, not the craft (except for finding one’s voice as a writer) or business side.  Her focus is to help the writer improve in productivity and originality.  To do that, she has the writer do numerous exercises, write morning pages, and practice meditation techniques.

Here’s a quote from Chapter Two, What Writers Are Like:

After you have begun to see what it is to be a writer, after you learn how the artist functions and also learn to act in the same way, after you have arranged your affairs and your relations so that they help you instead of hinder you on your way toward the goal you have chosen, those books on your shelves on the technique of fiction, or those others which set up models of prose style and story structure for emulation, will look quite different to you, and be infinitely more helpful.

This book, combined with Mundis’ BREAK WRITER’S BLOCK NOW, helped me this past spring to come up with a specific plan to conquer my submissions block problem once and for all.  Neither book mentions submissions block by name, but their techniques work for any sort of behavioral problem a writer is facing.

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