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One Continuous Mistake : Four Noble Truths for Writers Paperback – April 1, 1999
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About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
The same can be said of 'One Continuous Mistake'. With writing as with baking, what is offered is not a set of prescriptive guidelines, for this is not a simplistic 'how-to' manual. Rather this is a highly accessible and attractive collection of insights into what it is to be a writer.
Sher is a member of the San Francisco Zen Center, and her approach is guided by an interpretation of Zen principles. For her, writing, like meditation, is a 'practice'. The path is itself the destination.
I would take issue with the Amazon review posted here, which says, 'Though there are a few writing exercises here, this is less a workbook than a series of meditations on how to be a writer.' Actually there are plenty of 'exercises' if you want them. For instance, the book is particularly helpful in guiding the reader through the writing of haiku (short poems)as a way into writing. Sher's approach is intensely practical. She proposes 'four noble truths' of writing, of which the first is 'writers write'! However, rather than haranguing readers into despair over the paucity of our own written words, she invites us to see how exactly the writing life can become for us immesurably enriching.
Actually, there is another book on a similar theme - writing as interpreted by a Zen perspective - and it's called 'Writing Down The Bones' by Natalie Goldberg. Don't ask me to choose between them. Read them both. After all, writers need all the friends they can get.
Gail Sher has merged her years of experience as a writing teacher (who has clearly listened to the issues her students confronted) with her years of practicing, studying and teaching Zen Buddhism to make a very simple demystifying guidebook to a writing life. If you are looking for a workbook, there are wonderful exercises and a very useful guide to writing haikus in the appendix. But even more, if you aren't looking for ideas about the specific "what" or "how" of writing, but are concerned with the continual challenge of maintaining a writing life, this is a great book to have on hand. I plan to re-read this book throughout my writing life and give it as a gift to all my writerly friends.
Gail Sher has done a good job of letting us know not only the above things but also how other authors like Woolf, Thoreau and so on interacted with writing.
While writing about the four truths for writers, she also tells us how writing a haiku has got her stated on writing, the common fallacies like getting discouraged by feedback,how to deal with the well known writers block and well sated 'writers anorexia' that writers are bound to get stuck with, how much of reading is good or bad for writing, the importance of a making a habit of writing.
Five Pillars of writing is an excellent chapter on how to start with 'flat writing' of everyday events and trying to build something out of it in phases.
Her truths all echo 'write' which is a message well sent across in the book.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I've had this little book since 2001 or so ... and I think/feel that it is quite brilliant. In many ways the book is simple and direct. And yet it is also profoundly deep. Read morePublished 6 months ago by w tucker
This isn't a how to write book. It's a how to keep writing book. And it worked for me. Everyone's different, and everyone needs a different push. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Kelly S.
The best book on writing I have ever read! I recommend it to any writer who wants to avoid becoming a hack (so easy to do), It is my go to book daily for inspiration and to remind... Read morePublished on August 17, 2014 by sunnyfader
Gail is so human and inspiring at once, and her Zen spirituality enriches her recommendations for the writing process. Her book reads so lyrically. Read morePublished on February 2, 2014 by Ibrahim
This is a well-written book about writing by one who is autoritative about writing, teaching, and eastern paths. The book is clever, practical, and fun to read.Published on January 25, 2014 by Amazon Customer
A worthy read. Writing as a zen practice makes sense. Better than how to books.
Namaste from one writer to the next.