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Living the Writer's Life: A Complete Self-Help Guide Paperback – September 1, 1999
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Repeated rejection. Writer's block. Isolation. Alcoholism. Day jobs. Criticism. Low self-esteem. Narcissism. Addictions. Writing poorly. Poverty. Arrogance. Depression. A writer's life tends to invite all of the above, and more. In Living the Writer's Life, therapist and writer Eric Maisel, who specializes in counseling writers, sets out to "help you handle the many obstacles and challenges that come with the writing life." Books about writing commonly broach these types of issues as inevitabilities that writers must learn to deal with. Maisel's book shows you how. Through the use of role playing, personal anecdotes (one contributor writes about the value of earning an M.F.A. later in life), multiple-choice questions, quizzes, topical comments from renowned writers, and other models, Maisel encourages his readers to avoid the pitfalls of the writer's life. This is a serious workbook that can be used by writers (and other creative types, with little adjustments here and there) individually, in pairs, or in groups. --Jane Steinberg
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I found "Deep Writing" so useful I bought half a dozen copies and gave them away to writing buddies.
Maisel is well qualified to provide spot-on advice. The author of numerous previous creativity books and a novelist to boot, he also practices as a therapist specialising in blocked or otherwise worried creative people. He understands not only the nature and demands of creativity, but also the shaping constraints of the marketplace.
Whereas "Deep Writing" addressed the creative process, "Living the Writer's Life" considers a wider canvas, namely what is a writer's life like and how it can be made more productive and happier. The table of contents shows just what Maisel tackles: a writer's work, her education, his craft, the personality of a writer, a writer's challenges, her strengths, his relationships, the world of a writer, and a writer's career. As in his earlier work, the author doesn't merely disgorge theory plus a few examples, and then offer advice, he uses a variety of techniques (exercises, discussion questions, anecdotes, role plays, question-and-answer pieces, exercises, and solicited pieces) to make his points. It's an easy-to-read, yet highly profound mix of methods, and in every section I found not only a framework which seemed readily recognisable to me, but more importantly, approaches that will be of use to me in my own fiction writing career. I was captivated and enlightened from start to finish.
As with his previous book, I cannot recommend "Living the Writer's Life" too highly for the serious, committed writer, whether published or a wannabe. For those just dipping their toes into the writing life, it would be a useful book to appreciate the gamut of challenges and joys that writing brings, although I suspect a couple of other basic texts (such as Anne Lamott's "Bird by Bird" and Sol Stein's "Stein on Writing") would be needed.
Another indispensable aid from Eric Maisel for serious writers and curious would-be-writers.
The reason is that Maisel is very good at dispensing realistic, sensible advice. Facing a problem? Keep writing. Want to know if you'll ever be published? Keep writing. Want to get better? Keep writing. That's the gist of his message.....only he does it a lot better than I do.
Each chapter in the book addresses a different stage or facet of a writer's life. In his introduction he writes "This book is meant to accompany you through a lifetime of writing." And I believe that's quite an accurate description of the value and audience of the book...
...Maisel demystifies a lot of jargon and pretentious suppositions for the beginner....the one who wants to write, but is too intimidated to get started (Maisel will tell you to just start!). The book is also full of very practical advice, for instance, he offers some terrific role playing excercises on how to find an agent and what to say to one once you do, or why you should or shouldn't attend a writer's conference...
For the career writer, who's reached a crossroads or a block, or just needs a breath of fresh air...Maisel offers encouragement, and perspective, as well as essays from other writers at various stages in their careers on such topics as whether or not to pursue an MFA, when to re-think or abandon a project that's underway.