BECOMING A WRITER by Dorothea Brande — a Review

BECOMING A WRITER is not a writer’s manual in the sense that it will not teach you about plot or grammar or viewpoint. Instead, think of it more as a manual for the artist’s brain. Brande writes about how to confront your fears and doubts, how to get your mind in a place to be productive, and how to balance your inner editor against your inner creative. In other words, this is the book you need to read before you start writing. It’s a great tool for beginners or for those who have been feeling blocked or unproductive lately.

Brande begins by discussing the fears, the worries, and the self-imposed limits most beginners put on themselves. I recognized a lot of myself in this early section, so it kept me reading.

Brande then moves onto the dual nature of the artist’s brain: the conscious and the unconscious. The bulk of the book is about not only understanding that dual nature, but also positioning yourself to use that duality most effectively. Brande is convinced that only after you get those two halves working together will you produce your best work. And her calm, relaxed tone convinced me of this fact as well.

Mind you, this book was first published in 1934. This was before the spread of Transcendental Meditation or other movements. But good advice is good advice. And BECOMING A WRITER is full of great advice, even if it discusses typewriters and stationary stores. After reading it, you will know how to engage your creative side, how and when to call upon that internal editor. You will agree with Brande when she says that your genius is infinite. It’s just a question of accessing it. This book will show you how. It will renew your creativity, and help you remember why creating is worth confronting those fears and insecurities.