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Pen on Fire: A Busy Woman's Guide to Igniting the Writer Within Paperback – Bargain Price, October 4, 2004
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Finally, someone has come along to tell would-be writers the two words they desperately need to hear: get real! Women, especially, entertain fantasies of quitting their day jobs to spend countless uninterrupted hours at the keyboard, whereas the reality is that in today's hectic world, they're lucky to get 15 minutes. But, the author advises, if you plan it right, those 15 minutes should be all you need. A professor of creative writing, editor, and journalist, DeMarco-Barrett has developed a wealth of 15-minute plans, each one designed to help aspiring writers find not only the time but the focus they need to hone their writing skills while juggling the rest of their daily demands. Through challenging exercises, tips from established authors, and her own personal experiences, DeMarco-Barrett demonstrates precisely how writing-on-the-run can produce satisfying results. With an encouraging attitude and inspirational approach, DeMarco-Barrett covers everything writer-wannabes want to know, from finding an agent to finding your voice. The result is a supremely relevant guide to the writing life. Carol Haggas
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
"Pen on Fire is a gym for writers with Barbara DeMarco-Barrett, who teaches, coaxes, and cheers us on." -Diane Leslie, author of Fleur de Leigh's Life of Crime
"A wonderful mix of the practical and the inspirational." -T. Jefferson Parker, author of Cold Pursuit
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Top customer reviews
This is the perfect book for individuals who want to start writing but never seem to find the time. Stay-at-home moms may particularly find this book useful since they often can only find pockets of time for themselves.
The author writes: "Using fifteen-minute segments truly can start you on the road to becoming a writer...When (my students) give even small chunks of time to writing, incredible things begin to happen. Resistance to writing evaporates and is replaced with a feeling of fun and discovery."
Each section is extremely short (1 to 2 pages). At the end of each section is a writing assignment. "Set your timer" helps the reader jump start a writing activity. If you are short on time you could read the section and then later do the assignment.
One of the first assignments encourages the reader to track how she spends time and then determine where those hidden pockets of time can be found throughout the day. The author claims that everyone has at least 15 minutes a day to write.
One of my favorite activities from the book involves writing evocative words or phrases on slips of paper. Fold the papers and put them into a small container. Choose a word or two and set the timer for 5 minutes. Write whatever comes into your head and don't stop until the time is up.
Another idea is to collect post cards or family photos. Set the timer for 15 minutes and choose one of the post cards or photos to write about.
Other activities include finding your voice, developing a point of view and creating characters.
BEFORE YOU BEGIN
Writing Like There's No Tomorrow
Hang a Partition
Freewriting Shall Set You Free
Load the Basket, Fill the Jug
Create a Written Snapshot
Through a Child's Eyes and Ears
TOOLS AND RITUALS
Leave Your Shoes at the Door
Where Writers Work
Walk! Refresh! Have Fun!
Napkins, Notebooks, and Journals
Teaching Your Pen to Listen
MINING YOUR LIFE
Celebrate Your Otherness
Using the Ones You Love
Breaking the Chains
Words Can Be So Powerful
Life Imitating Art
Beads of Sweat . . .or Pleasure
other areas include CRAFT, OVERCOMING THE OBSTACLES and LIVING THE LIFE
If you are thinking about wanting to write, this is the perfect book to get started. It is definitely worth the full purchase price. (It is even better when the bargain price is listed as $5.60)
I have a shelf full of books on writing by people famous and unknown. Many are beautifully wrought and give you the feel of kindred spirit with the author. You are both writers, after all. But none compelled me in the way DeMarco-Barrett did to pick up a pen this moment in spite of laundry piles, writer's block, dirty dishes, doubts and general enertia.
I am the typical busy mom with two part time jobs,(one as a freelance writer) two kids, a husband and multiple activities to manage. I don't have time to write my book....or do I. DeMarco-Barrett has helped me recover the joy and discipline of something I love to do and am miserable without, painlessly. How do I have time to write this review? By setting the timer for fifteen minutes and doing it. She guides the writer with free writing exercises, prompts, and tons of easily implementable ideas, all tools to get your words out of your head and onto the page. With her professorial panache to lead you, ideas you didn't even know you had will begin to flow freely.
Did I mention she is a UCI professor and has her own radio show on KUCI called Writer's on Writing? This is what makes the book so fun. She mines the novelists she has interviewed through the years for great tips which gives her book much larger scope.
Her style is no nonsense and yet warm. She's like a friend who is honest and doesn't buy your excuses, instead pushing you to move forward with what you know you need to do. Buy this book if you want practical, fun, cool exercises and pragmatic tips on writing right now whether you are a new or seasoned writer. This book changed the way I see writing from a job and something I love to do to a lifestyle that can no longer be compartmentalized just because I don't have a lap top handy. There are many substitutes for paper and ink, but no substitute for action. Thanks for the light, Barbara!
Any writer will tell you that you don't write a best seller overnight, and this book will tell you that too. Unlike many other writing books available the pages don't contain advice at how to leave your 9 to 5 job and write the world's best novel. Instead the book is filled with useful, real advice for determined writer's to utilize and honestly get their pens on fire.
There are dozens of exercises to get you thinking and writing, with originality and flair. The book is well written and is a very easy book to devour in a short period of time. Except that you will more than likely find yourself reaching for it again and again to participate in the exercises and get you thinking on a more creative level.
A must have book for any would-be writer's bookshelf.
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