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The Mindful Writer: Noble Truths of the Writing Life Hardcover – April 10, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


"Advice books for writers are a dime a dozen but Moore provides a fresh approach with this melding of Buddhist teachings and sage career and life lessons for those who devote their lives to the written word...this is a compact book of practical and philosophical truths for both novice and veteran writers." (Publishers Weekly)

"There is something fresh and undeniably appealing about these bite-sized morsels, which expand the writer's experience to a broader, human one." (The Writer Magazine)

"In short, The Mindful Writer is an indispensable title for anyone who wants to better understand the relationship between writing and mindfulness." (Buddhist Book Reviews)

"Never be without it--as reference, as balm, as talisman; to refresh, encourage, comfort, and instruct. It's a trove of treasures. Professor Moore--insightful, funny, and true--cheers us on like the teacher and friend he is." (The Gamut)

"I've been carrying this small, powerful book with me wherever I go. It's a stellar companion that keeps me on track, in writing and in life." (Brenda Miller, author of Listening Against the Stone and co-author of The Pen and the Bell: Mindful Writing in a Busy World)

"Some books are a sheer pleasure to read. This one is a treasure of insights and beautifully worded ideas. It's also brief and handy. There's no reason to deny yourself this treat, whether you're a writer or a reader. The Mindful Writer will find its place on my shelf of writer's guides and inspirations." (Thomas Moore, author of Care of the Soul)

"I recommend this book to anyone interested in the written word." (Lin Jensen, author of Deep Down Things, Pavement, and Bad Dog!)

"What a relief! Dinty W. Moore shares practical strategies that help writers cultivate peace of mind and write better prose. Moore's light, insightful and prescient commentary is a potent antidote for writer's angst and a welcome companion for an otherwise lonely activity. Read on, then write!" (Deborah Schoberlein, author of Mindful Teaching and Teaching Mindfulness)

"Moore condenses an entire library of writing advice into sixty deft lessons. I will urge this wise, kind, slender volume on all of my students." (Heather Sellers, author of The Practice of Creative Writing)

"The Mindful Writer will help you to keep faith in writing, to keep laying down word after word when it feels impossible." (Writing Our Way Home)

About the Author

Dinty W. Moore is author of The Mindful Writer: Noble Truths of the Writing Life, as well as the memoir Between Panic and Desire, winner of the Grub Street Nonfiction Book Prize in 2009. Moore has published essays and stories in The Southern Review, The Georgia Review, Harpers, The New York Times Sunday Magazine, The Philadelphia Inquirer Magazine, Iron Horse Literary Review, and Crazyhorse, among numerous other venues. A professor of nonfiction writing at Ohio University, Moore lives in Athens, Ohio, where he grows heirloom tomatoes and edible dandelions.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 152 pages
  • Publisher: Wisdom Publications (April 10, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1614290075
  • ISBN-13: 978-1614290070
  • Product Dimensions: 4.5 x 0.6 x 6.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #38,201 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Dinty W. Moore was born and raised in Erie, Pennsylvania, and spent his formative years fishing for bluegill, riding a bike with a banana seat, and dodging the Sisters of St. Joseph. He earned a BA in writing from the University of Pittsburgh, worked briefly as a journalist, and also served short stints as a documentary filmmaker, modern dance performer, zookeeper, and Greenwich Village waiter. It was only after failing at each of these professions that he went on to earn an MFA in fiction writing from Louisiana State University.

A National Endowment for the Arts fellowship recipient, Moore has guest taught creative nonfiction seminars across the United States and in Europe. In addition to editing the internet journal, Brevity, he is on the editorial board of Creative Nonfiction magazine.

Moore teaches writing at Ohio University.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 30 people found the following review helpful By A Reader on April 6, 2012
Format: Hardcover
You know Lao Tze. He's the Chinese sage who wrote the Tao Te Ching and gave us aphorisms like "One who knows doesn't speak; one who speaks doesn't know." I've come to think of Dinty Moore as a contemporary Lao Tze and of THE MINDFUL WRITER as a Tao Te Ching for the 21st Century.

As a writing teacher myself, I've never been able to find a text book I could actually use. THE MINDFUL WRITER is that book. Why? Because in its paradoxical wisdom, it doesn't seek to teach. It seeks to give insight, lend support, encouragement, and sometimes to offer an outright kick in the pants to a writer who wants to "be taught." It's the Catch-22 of writing: any good teacher doesn't teach. S/he only helps a writer discover what's already there, inside him/her and bring that to the surface with absolute clarity. That's what THE MINDFUL WRITER DOES. It settles the writer into the heart of writing.

The book itself is small enough to fit in your back pocket. I carried my copy with me everywhere when I first received it. As I crossed town on a bus, or sat at a table eating a quick lunch, I would take out THE MINDFUL WRITER and read a page or ten. Reading it made me feel good. I'm not one of those people who thinks writers "suffer" because they're "so alone." But this book does feel like a companion, one you can count on to remind you what writing is all about: WRITING. Not publishing; not saying something smart in your next workshop; not telling your friends about your new writing project. Just writing, mindfully. That's what's at the heart of this book, and that's what makes THE MINDFUL WRITER essential to any writer.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By voracious on April 6, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Ray Bradbury aside, books on Zen (or mindfulness) and how it works with the writing life tend to be foggy, full of New Age platitudes, and almost impossible to apply. Not only does this one speak to those of us in the trenches, but it also goes past what the reader might expect. The book is designed as brief commentaries on quotes from various figures, not all of them writers or Buddhists. An example: Moore quotes the poet William Matthews saying, "The depth is in the surface," which seems like just the kind of remark, meaningless on its own, found in such books. But then Moore goes on to quote Thich Nhat Hanh on the poet's sensibility, and how the poet sees a cloud floating in every sheet of paper, since the clouds bring rain for trees that are made into paper. "Often," writes Moore, "all we see is what we anticipate will be there, our own attachments and expectations." Some of the quotes, such as those from Martha Graham, Faulkner, and Flaubert, you will have read before, but Moore finds his own things to say about them. The practicality is what's most refreshing, as he seems to speak directly to people who are actually doing work, as when he writes: "The frustration simply means you are going about it in the right way."
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By The Culinary Tourist on April 27, 2012
Format: Hardcover
The Dalai Lama's interview with Piers Morgan on CNN this week had me smiling spontaneously, even laughing with joy at times. So much simple wisdom wrapped in a bright red robe with twinkling eyes. It might just change your life.

Dinty Moore's little red book, THE MINDFUL WRITER, produced much the same reaction. Short passages illuminate universal truths about writers and writing, some that I have been avoiding for years.

"It is necessary to write, if the days are not to slip emptily by. How else, indeed, to clap the net over the butterfly of the moment? For the moment passes, it is forgotten; the mood is gone; life itself is gone. That is where the writer scores over his fellows: he catches the changes of his mind on the hop." ~ Vita Sackville-West

Dinty Moore says " `letting the days slip emptily by' is as close to the opposite of mindfulness that I can imagine."

Next time I go off in search of butterflies, it will be with fresh eyes and this little red book in my backpack.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Rebecca A. Saxton on May 2, 2012
Format: Hardcover
When asked how Buddhism influenced his writing, author Dinty Moore was initially stymied for an answer, until, true to his practice, he realized that the question was backwards. It was his writing that influenced his Buddhist practice, not the other way around. With this understanding, Moore provides 59 quotes from writers and Buddhist practitioners, along with short meditations on each. The result is a refreshing perspective on the art of writing, the shortfalls of the all-too-human writer, and the beauty that comes from being mindful on the page and in life.

The book could be read cover to cover and many writers will see their frustrations and anxieties echoed by many successful, well-known authors such as Ray Bradbury, Barbara Kingsolver, and Ursula K. Le Guinn. The quotes and meditations, though, are timeless, and a reader could also flip to a random page and gain wisdom from a master writer and Moore's keen commentary. "Don't tell me the moon is shining," notes Anton Chekov, "show me the glint of light on broken glass." Moore goes on to expand this version of "Show, don't tell." from a Buddhist perspective. "Mindfulness, of course, is not limited to an awareness of your writing rituals...mindfulness can extend to the sentences you put on the page. Are you painting the full picture?" The interplay between the quotes and Moore's observations about the writer's life give the reader a sense of community. Moore writes with an open-hearted sense of 'we're all in this together, so we may as well help each other along.'

"Everyone thinks writers must know more about the inside of the human head, but that is wrong," says Margaret Atwood. "They know less, that's why they write. Trying to find out what everyone takes for granted.
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