Becoming a Writer

becoming a writerby Mike O’Mary

I am editing a book about creative writing. I’m very excited about it. It’s more of a “why” write, rather than a “how” to write. But in the process of talking about why write, the author sheds a lot of light on how to write, as well. I think it’s going to be a great book. I’ll tell you more about it as we get closer to publication later this year.

For now, I want to tell you about another book about writing. Editing this current manuscript prompted me to refer back to one of the first books I read about writing: Becoming a Writer by Dorothea Brande. If you are familiar with Brande’s book, you know the story…written in the 1930s by a woman whose teaching techniques incorporated right-brain thinking and transcendental meditation long before those concepts were popular…long before there were even names for those things! The book went out of print, but was brought back to life and light in 1981 with an introduction by John Gardner. The book is a treasure.

I said earlier that the book I am currently editing isn’t about how to write; it’s about why we write. Similarly, Becoming a Writer isn’t about how to write; it’s about how to be a writer. It’s very inspiring. If you’re not familiar with it, give it a read.

Another great book about writing is The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. But more on that book another day. In the meantime, I’m curious: what books do you turn to for inspiration or instruction or motivation when it comes to your writing?

Mike O’Mary is founding dreamer of Dream of Things, an independent book publisher currently accepting creative nonfiction stories for anthologies on 15 topics.

4 thoughts on “Becoming a Writer”

  1. Brande’s book is fabulous — a classic, but still really spot on (because face it, the tools may change, but the human brain hasn’t altered in 70 years). Lots of terrific advice on how to get the creative juices flowing — and how to protect that gentle creative spirit. Good stuff. It is, in fact, one of three books I always recommend when teaching nonfiction writing classes. So great recommendation.

  2. Hi Cynthia. I agree…Brande’s book is a classic. I’m glad to hear you are using it in teaching. What are the other books you use in the classroom?

  3. I enjoyed reading Anne Lamott’s book: Bird by Bird:Some Instructions on Writing and Life as well as Sometimes the Magic Works by Terry Brooks.


  4. Hi Carrie. I like Bird by Bird, too, but I’m not familiar with “Sometimes the Magic…” I’ll check it out. Thanks again!

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