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A Writer’s Space by Eric Maisel

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A WRITER’S SPACE isn’t about setting up your home office or finding the right physical space to work in. It’s about the abstract concept of “a writer’s space,” including the emotional state of the writer, his imagination, and any psychological hang-ups that he’s bringing to the writing desk.

Maisel is a licensed therapist who has carved a professional niche for himself by convincing people that writing is hard. To Maisel, writers are people who have to be gently coaxed to the keyboard. Don’t rush it, don’t scare yourself, and by all means, “protect your writing space” so nobody sabotages your precious time or bruises your fragile writer’s ego.

Maisel talks a lot about his patients. The people who come to him for help say they want to be writers but don’t actually write anything. I’m sure that having a high-priced “creativity coach” is part of the fantasy of living the writer’s life. They want the lifestyle without doing any of the work.

Those who can’t afford a weekly therapist to tell them why they aren’t writing might turn to A WRITER’S SPACE. It’s a comfort to people who wish they were writers but don’t find any joy in the writing itself. I feel sorry for those people. Real writers love to write and take great pleasure in telling stories. If writing isn’t fun, why do it? Of course authors have bad days, but if the bad ones outnumber the good, perhaps writing isn’t truly what you want to do.

There is no shame in that. The real shame is someone like Eric Maisel telling his clients that writing is delicate and needs to be carefully guided by professionals for fear of spooking the muses. Or worse, that it’s some kind of horrible drudgery that writers resist doing. It’s not. Writing is glorious messy fun that anyone can do, whether they have the right “space” for it or not.

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Rating: 1 star

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I recommend Take Joy by Jane Yolen or The Courage to Write by Ralph Keyes instead of this book.

About Alex Kourvo

Writer, reader, parent. On the endless quest for great books and the perfect slice of key lime pie.

8 responses »

  1. juliabarrett

    Oh Yikes! You have got to be kidding me. Delicate? Writing is an active verb. It’s aggressive and assertive and courageous. Only occasionally is it delicate. We are not butterflies.

    Reply
  2. I openly reject the idea that professional writers should be writing from a place of inspiration. Inspiration is a crutch that makes bad actors and bad writers. It’s nice when it happens, but it blinds us to the flaws of our work and leaves us unable to write when it doesn’t show up. Real writers know how to force themselves to write, even when the muse doesn’t flow through them. Real writers know that writing is a skill that can be learned and practiced, and that sometimes their best work comes when they don’t feel particularly spiritual or swept away.

    Reply
  3. Sadly, I’ve met plenty of Maisel’s “delicate” writers. They baffle me. If you want to write, then … write! You get past your own inflated sense of perfection just as you get past your fears about writing, but only if you … write! In fact, giving up those high-power creativity therapy sessions and replacing them with a writer’s workshop might be an excellent way to go from being a coddled delicate to a vigorous, ACTUAL writer!

    Thanks for the frank review.

    -aniko

    Reply
    • I couldn’t agree more, Aniko. And moving from therapy to a writer’s workshop (or, you know, actual writing!) would be much more fun.

      Reply
      • Yes!! Writing is fun! If someone wants to write, but doesn’t find it fun, that is like me wanting to run a marathon, but hating running. I don’t go to a therapist to find out why I’m not running. I just don’t run, and write instead! :)

  4. Aniko and Alex both hit the nail on the head!

    Reply

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