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39 of 42 people found the following review helpful
on June 20, 2001
The first and sometimes only thing I read in the monthly Writers Guild of American Journal is Dennis Palumbo's column, so I knew I had to have this book. What I didn't know is how much it would help me. A successful TV person, I have been avoiding writing my first novel for years. Blocked. Totally. Although I thought I had heard all the advice, I had never heard anyone describe a block in the way Palumbo does. Turning it from a negative to a positive worked. I began to view the block as a stepping stone or a bridge (albeit a creaky, scary swinging bridge), rather than a concrete wall. In this way, I was finally able to stop beating myself up for the avoidance, and accept it as a part of the process. Lo and behold, book is done and the agent loves it! Thank you, Mr. Palumbo, for helping me write the thing I spent four years avoiding.
Also especially loved what Palumbo had to say about writers' envy of other successful writers. Until I read this, I thought it was my own dirty, little secret. Now I know that all the rest of you hope my books does as lousy as I hope yours does...
If you love to write, you'll like this book. If you hate to write, you may like it even more.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
Think you're the only writer in the world wracked with self-doubt, insecurity, fear and loneliness? Think again. Writer/Therapist Dennis Palumbo reveals, with heart and humour, just how common these feelings are, and better yet, how they can furnish the real raw materials for fulfilling writing.
Through heartbreaking and inspiring stories from his own life and practice, he does nothing less than illuminate the path to every writer's essential, ongoing, transformative process. He even replicates sessions of client-therapist dialogue so clearly and beautifully that they make you sit up and say, "Hey, that's me he's talking to!"
This is a well-crafted book about the "doing" of writing, one that makes you proud to be a writer, makes you want to write better, and then gives you specific tools to do exactly that.
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37 of 41 people found the following review helpful
on May 4, 2003
I've read this book three times, some sections four times. Most of the chapters were originally a series of monthly columns "The Writer's Life" by Dennis Palumbo that ran in the Writer's Guild of America magazine. Like most members of the WGA it was the first thing to which I turned, because it was indeed about my life, about writing my first novel, the occasional screenplay, and now that I am currently writing my sixth novel, this book is on my bed stand-which explains the third and fourth readings.
But "Writing from the Inside Out" is not a collection of old columns. Palumbo enhanced and rewrote the original material as an inspired book about the psyche of the writer and the creative process itself and how to nurture and sustain it when not only the outside world but your own mind appears to be thwarting you. For such a wise and insightful work it is often entertaining and a delight to read, no doubt because Palumbo was a successful TV sitcom and screenwriter who co-wrote "My Favorite Year" (not incidentally about a meshuggeneh TV writer) before answering the calling to be a psychotherapist specializing in creative issues. In his new profession he now enjoys an international rep.
The comic and comedy writer Gary Shandling comments in a blurb, "Every writer should have a shrink or this book. The book is cheaper."
Shandling is not joking. At Palumbo's current fees I estimate I have saved $11,000 each time I read this book thoughtfully chapter by chapter.
There are a few who criticize that "Writing from the Inside Out" makes the struggle to write seem too difficult. For them there is a bridge in lower Manhattan that runs from the Soho garrets of struggling writers to the trendy Brooklyn Heights residences of several acclaimed authors on which I can make them a very good deal. For a low comfortable down payment and easy monthly installments, this historic bridge can be yours.
For those with more realistic ambitions to be a writer, I commend this wise empowering book without reservation.
Richard Setlowe
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on September 11, 2004
Palumbo is a writer turned psychotherapist. He saw all his own problems writing, and understood others also had them, and found his new voaction counceling other authors at various stages in their careers. As such the book differs from most other writer's guide books. He focuses on the internal processes of writing: self-doubt, negative judgement, hopelessness, loneliness, lack of ideas, etc. And he does give very valuable advice. Basically, he tells us to turn our weaknesses into strenghts. We can use anything in our writing, even our procrastination and depression. An idea that actullay goes back all the way to Nietzsche.

Thios book will not write anything for you, but it will help give new clarity to your thoughts about writing, and in that way help you with your writing.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on March 12, 2001
Let's see what the film industry says. Reviewer Michael Farkash relates it like this in his November, 2000, Hollywood Reporter article: "Screenwriter-turned-psychotherapist Dennis Palumbo is able to do the most difficult thing for anxiety-ridden scribes to do: turn negatives into positives. An eminently readable book that deftly identifies stumbling blocks and how to overcome them, "Writing From the Inside Out: Transforming Your Psychological Blocks to Release the Writer Within" is more than a little food for thought. It's the promise of an entire spiritual banquet for emotionally debilitated creative writers."
Savor the flavor, I might add. Farkash continues, "This is not a how-to book in the usual sense, nor is it a compendium of quick fixes. "Writing" identifies key problems, including envy and burnout, that may weigh down writers or anyone else who uses creative methods in their work. There are also the hard facts here, the cold equations that have no answers--like dealing with agents who won't return your phone calls.
"With the kinds of insights available to a professional writer and the thoughtful study that turns a layman into a therapist, Palumbo offers keys to dealing with the thousand or more doubts and frustrations that a writer's spirit is prone to suffer. The book offers tons of inspiration that can actually drive hope into creative writers."
Hmm. When was the last time something like that happened? The reviewer continues. "It's in the final chapters that Palumbo covers the ultimate challenges of the career writer's life: dealing with ageism and hanging on despite adversity.
"In terms of ageism, there's commiseration but no solution. After all, how does one buck an entire marketplace? (Other than slogging ahead and doing the work?) Palumbo writes: 'It's not a problem to be solved. ...It's an experience to be had, a set of circumstances to be endured.'"
Farkashs zeroes in. "After all, points out Palumbo, most artists do their best work during their middle-age years: "The more mature, confident and self-trusting an artist is, the more likely he or she is to break with convention, to explore more deeply."
And the more likely to read a review like this and more fully appreciate a book such as this. Very worthy reading for every wordsmith. -- G. Cavanaugh
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on December 19, 2000
I've looked forward to this book for a long time. Anyone who's been to the "mountaintop" of movie and tv writing, has stories to tell. And Dennis tells those stories and then some. What he also tells you is that those feelings of fear, loneliness, procrastination, doubt...all of that means you're a writer. He encourages the reader/writer to truly understand something. You are enough. Write from your heart and do it every day. Palumbo relates the Three Cosmic Truths and more with the lean, hopeful prose of a master. If your'e a writer, this is the most important book you can have next to your dictionary.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on February 20, 2001
I can't recommend this book highly enough. I was really getting ready to give it all up, after losing heart about a script I was working on. But a friend gave me this, because it helped him. Reading it gave me the hope and inspiration to keep going, and I just recently had the script optioned by a producer, for decent money. The book helps you face down all those voices in your head that tell you to give up, that you are deluding yourself, that you are no good at this, that no one will buy your work, that other writers don't have these doubts, etc. Just read it, and you will see what I mean. If you can't afford to buy it, go read it at the library, because it will quiet all the negative voices in your head and allow you to do what you really want and dream and hope to do.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on August 12, 2003
I am an assistant professor and this book helped me get over writer's block on my academic research. The fear, self-doubt, and all of the other psychological things discussed in this book are true for all writers. This is a must read for ANY WRITER, I assign it to my graduate students.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on December 22, 2003
An awesome book for those who are "stuck" in their writing lives. Palumbo uses real-life examples to demonstrate that all writers, from the beginner to the most successful, at one time or another struggle with the writing process. The examples he uses reassures us that "we are not alone" in our creative frustrations and there is hope, even if we (as writers) don't see it.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on June 19, 2002
Book Review: Writing From The Inside Out, by Dennis Palumbo
Dennis Palumbo has an enormous wealth of information that he is willing to share. The points he makes in Writing from the Inside Out are poignant for ANYONE in this game called life, especially those who are pursing creative interests because those individuals have to put their heart and soul on the line to earn their daily bread. He is not, however, very encouraging to those who are thinking about writing and have yet to make the commitment. Don't take it personally, the information is good and will help you avoid the pit falls you may encounter. Palumbo makes the writing issues as simple as possible while still realizing that DOING the right/healthy thing is easier said than done. You may want to make a few notes and pin them on your bulletin board to keep reminding yourself, JUST WRITE, ENJOY THE PROCESS, I AM ENOUGH, MY GOODS AND BADS ARE JUST GRIST FOR THE MILL.
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