LIVING WRITE is meant for people who are writing occasionally and want to make it a daily habit. Stone offers fifteen ways to make daily writing happen, using affirmations, visualizations, or “fake it until you make it” mind tricks. The exercises are not practical do-this-get-that advice, but much more ambiguous. LIVING WRITE is about changing a writer’s mindset. The theory goes like this: if someone feels like a successful writer, she will act like a successful writer by writing every day.
Some people really like this kind of book, especially those with a lot of trust in the subconscious mind and faith in things like affirmations and vision boards. I see nothing wrong with a writer looking in the mirror and telling herself that she’s talented, and worthy, and hard-working, and on her way to success. However, the next step is where affirmations break down for me. Telling myself that I’m already successful or that I’m already a bestseller doesn’t work because I know it’s a lie. (Or, a pre-truth, if you will.) My mind gets tangled in the absurdity of success coming before work. It negates the good feelings the affirmation is supposed to create.
But more than that, I have a bit of a problem with the main premise of the book. I have little patience for people who complain about the difficulty of writing. Someone who has to use fifteen different tricks in order to get to the page perhaps isn’t cut out to be a writer.
However, Stone does have some good ideas that a serious working writer can use. Even people who love to write can have small blocks, and that’s when some of the techniques in LIVING WRITE come in handy. I especially like Stone’s idea of having a writing mantra. In the same way that people training for a marathon will tell themselves “26.2” throughout the day, something like “successful author” or “finished novel” can remind writers of their ultimate goal, and perhaps keep them away from the television during writing time. I’ve also used her technique of looking up to writing role models. We all have mentors whom we’ve never met but who influence us all the same. Just thinking “what would Lawrence Block do?” has clarified my thinking on more than one occasion.
The exercises in LIVING WRITE aren’t very time-consuming or difficult, so they wouldn’t hurt to try, although they probably won’t help much, either, unless someone is already writing fairly regularly. They will probably be more useful as little pick-me-ups or boosts in an already-healthy writing practice.
LIVING WRITE can be found here.
rating: 3 stars
this book is best for: beginning writers