In One Continuous Mistake
, Gail Sher applies the teachings of Zen Buddhism to the creative-writing process. Though there are a few writing exercises here, this is less a workbook than a series of meditations on how to be a writer. "When you read Zen literature," says Sher, "you must read each sentence with a fresh mind." And so should you write. "The real work of writing is, day after day, to discover how to maintain freshness." To do so, Sher advises (among other things) a single-minded focus, a daily writing period, sitting with a straight spine, and "letting words fall freely, without editing or censuring." By doing so, says Sher, your body "gives birth ... to what you never expected, predicted, could have thought up." Only then, adds Sher, should you revise. And when you do, revise boldly. "As Suzuki-roshi used to say about getting up when the alarm rings," she says, "'Never make the same decision twice.'" --Jane Steinberg
About the Author
Gail Sher is the author of eight books of poetry and one book on breadmaking, in addition to her books on writing. Awarded Teacher of the Year by the combined educational faculties of the University of California at Berkeley, Stanford University, and San Francisco State University, she has taught graduate classes in writing, psychology, and Zen for many years. She lives in Berkeley, California.