Certain books reappear on ‘you must read’ lists of writing manuals. Stephen King’s On Writing is a prime example. Dorothea Brande’s seminal text on creative writing is another such title. Becoming A Writer was first published in the 1930s, yet the wisdom it contains is still just as relevant today.
Most writing books focus on the mechanics of writing. Think grammar, character, dialogue, setting etc. Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell is one of my most recommended books to new writers. (Grab my other recommendations below!)
These elements are clearly important to the business of writing. But writers can only use them if they’ve managed to establish a set routine, and flicked that switch in your brain that allows you to write whenever, wherever.
Essentially, this book is intended to help flick that switch.
Becoming a Writer, not just Writing
Brande is more concerned with the personality problems of the fledgling writer than their technical errors. It is these which she seeks to help the writer to overcome. Nowadays, it would come under the heading of ‘author mindset’. I’d also recommend Joanna Penn’s The Successful Author Mindset Companion Workbook: A Handbook for Surviving the Writer’s Journey if mindset is a real problem for you.
Brande’s language is a little old-fashioned. Her insistence that the author is always referred to as ‘he’ is a tad annoying. But that’s hardly surprising considering the age of the text. Despite this, it’s still an immensely readable, useful book.
It prompts the writer into doing exactly what they do best – write.
Read it through making notes, or tackle it chapter by chapter. Consider Becoming a Writer to be a writing coach you can slip into your bag and take with you.
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