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6 Reviews
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shake, Rattle and Write, October 7, 2010
This review is from: The Writing Warrior: Discovering the Courage to Free Your True Voice (Paperback)
I've read piles of how to-books for writers. This one stands out from the rest., and not just because I've never been advised at the start to commit to a practice of breathing and shaking to enhance my writing. She doesn't insist on the shaking. If you don't want to shake, she agrees that other physical practices like yoga, qigong, dancing, jogging will do as well. The important thing is to get your body moving to break up stagnation and free your creative juices.

I appreciated that she makes it clear from the beginning that the form she suggests is only that, a suggestion. "However, just like with clothing (no matter what the labels say), a one-size structure does not fit all writers." I read food recipes for inspiration more often than directions, and I'm even less likely to follow recipes for writing. But I do love a good idea -- like shaking and moving -- and this book is full of good ideas.

The shaking and moving instruction is fundamental to the metaphors of movement and "practice" embedded in the core of the book. She sees writing as movement along a path, and she moves the writing student along a path of movement and practice, much as a martial arts warrior moves during practice. Like the martial arts warrior, the Writing Warrior "stands steady in the center of her work, not reaching too far into the past or too far into the future. She is rooted to the earth, and her spine reaches toward heaven."

Herring remains rooted in her metaphor and centered on her path. Her material is neatly sorted into five parts: Breaking Ground, Building Your Foundation, Dissolving Your Illusions, Committing to Your Authentic Path, and Deepening Your Writer's Roots. Each short chapter resembles a blog post, tightly focused on one key concept. Although the chapters are arranged to gradually build on her theme, each is a concisely contained unit capable of standing on its own. As a bonus, each part ends with Writing Warrior Practice, including several suggested exercises to help you master the principles it covers.

Just as martial arts training is about a way of life as much or more than a way of self-defense, this book is about a way of thinking as much or more than a way of writing. It's about sorting out your heart and your head so words can flow forth unimpeded.

One way to tell whether I've been engaged with a book is the number of sticky flags bristling from the edges. This book has a lot of flags.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finding your inner warrior, August 1, 2010
This review is from: The Writing Warrior: Discovering the Courage to Free Your True Voice (Paperback)
This book kicks my writerly butt in the best possible way, and I know it will kick yours, too. Laraine Herring--with all her wisdom, honesty and humor--will get you moving, both in your body and on the page. The Writing Warrior will take you to places in yourself and in your writing that you've never dared to travel before; it will open you up and you'll be amazed by what emerges. A glorious and profound book for writers.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not like making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, August 16, 2010
This review is from: The Writing Warrior: Discovering the Courage to Free Your True Voice (Paperback)
This book frees would-be (and experienced) writers from their biggest obstacle -- themselves. Some of Herring's concepts are both literary and profound. If the elements involved are: the writer, the words he or she writes and the reader--her focus is on the first two. She faces off against the writer's mythical hamster wheel of suffering with its spokes of "the illusion of time," " the illusion of control," " the illusions of publication, success, fame and money, etc" and integrates some countering writing practices in conjunction with yoga and breathing.

I thought the journal writing exercises somewhat elemental though they probably originated from Ms. Herring's extensive teaching experiences, but some of her concepts--for example, "structure is alive," "the energy of the moment," "there is no overnight anything" and "a writer must remember he or she is always a beginner"--stayed with me long after I had finished the book. I like the joining of yoga and teaching, in fact I conduct workshops called "YogaWrite(tm)," but there is a danger that the focus becomes too subjective. Readers want an example of facing their vulnerabilities (and a good author provides this), but my experience is that art has to make reality, heightened reality. There are dynamics between characters in scenes that dramatize inner and outer conflicts. These techniques Laraine Herring seems to leave to a readers' further research. Maybe they are the subject of a follow-up book, but I think would have been perfect to explore in the last third of this one (which is mostly after-the-fact bromides).

Herring can write; her rather personal examples are very moving. I wish there was more on the breathing and movement, but her comments about attaining a non-judgmental relationship with ourselves are inspirational. She says, "Don't worry about the end results.... Write the best book possible. Then do the next right thing." But isn't there more? This is a book worth reading, worth believing in, and (also) worth moving beyond.

- John Lehman, Rosebud Book Reviews
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14 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Writing for the Whole Body / Mind / Spirit, July 26, 2010
This review is from: The Writing Warrior: Discovering the Courage to Free Your True Voice (Paperback)
Herring's The Writing Warrior: Discovering the Courage to Free Your True Voice would appeal to writers who encounter difficulties at any stage of the process. The author guides you along with a gentle, but firm and confident hand, through exercises that are supposed to change how you write.

PHYSICALITY
----------------------
I have to admit that I am not terribly taken with the idea of a writing "warrior." It is an intriguing alliteration in the title, and a metaphor that is carried throughout the book, but not especially helpful for me. Warfare, courage, and true voice? The title put me off a little, but I am glad I opened it up and gave it a try. After reading the book, I think it ought to have been called something like The Writer as Athlete (except, I am sure Herring could make that sound more catchy).

My point is that the book is about making writing physical, focusing one's mental energies on the task at hand, and disciplining oneself through training. Of course, both warriors and athletes do this, but I think I can relate to athletes a bit more readily. There are breathing exercises, shaking ones, meditative practices, writing prompts, and so forth. It's a nice mix of the physical, contemplative, and practical.

MYSTICISM/SPIRITUALITY
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I could have done without the mysticism. I felt like I was reading Carlos Castaneda + Buddhism (Chapter 8 was playfully titled the Writer's Wheel of Suffering) for writers. The particular approach didn't inspire me. I really do appreciate the attempt to make writing into a spiritual practice, though, and will be chewing it over in my mind.

STRUCTURE
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The author is emphatic that she is only suggesting a structure that you can use for your own writing. She encourages you to try it out for 49 days (I don't remember why it has to be this length of time). Don't feel like this has to be done--you can adapt it as you see fit. I have not completed my 49 days yet, so we'll have to see how this goes. I do like the idea of structure, and I think it is a good idea to set up a time frame for trying out something new. Old habits are difficult to break.

SUMMARY
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If you feel uncomfortable about bringing a physical element to your writing, or you don't want to read about writing strategies that are mixed with an eclectic blend of mysticism, then this book is not for you. If you are looking for a new approach to overcoming your writing difficulties, though, then you'll want to give this a try.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sit still..., July 25, 2010
By 
Luz (San Miguel de Allende, Mexico) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Writing Warrior: Discovering the Courage to Free Your True Voice (Paperback)
If you're someone who's always felt they have something to write about, something burning in you to be brought to the light of the blank page, this book is for you- "You contain everything within you that you will ever need. Just sit still long enough to uncover it." From the book, page 242- Alma Luz Villanueva
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars thought provoking advice, December 28, 2012
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This review is from: The Writing Warrior: Discovering the Courage to Free Your True Voice (Paperback)
I have not finished reading this book yet or I'm sure it would get 5 stars. What I've read so far really is wonderful.
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The Writing Warrior: Discovering the Courage to Free Your True Voice
The Writing Warrior: Discovering the Courage to Free Your True Voice by Laraine Herring (Paperback - July 20, 2010)
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