I first read a borrowed copy of WRITE FOR YOUR LIFE about ten years ago. I returned the book as quickly as possible, disturbed by the huge amount of woo. Even the author himself says it’s a bit over-the-top. In the introduction to the new edition, Block says, “…the tone of the book is more Gee Whiz than I’m comfortable with sixteen years later. It would take a lot of work to tone that down, and it might very well be to the book’s detriment.”
At the time of my first reading, I was of the work harder, not smarter camp. Somehow, I thought if I wasn’t beating myself up, I wasn’t a real writer. Plus, I had another problem. Block wanted me to face my fears head-on—something I wasn’t prepared to do. I set aside WRITE FOR YOUR LIFE and turned to Block’s other how-to books, which are about the nuts and bolts of writing craft (much safer territory for me).
But a funny thing happened on the way to 2015 and re-reading this book. I became a pro writer. And wouldn’t you know it, I was already doing most of the things Block suggested. I had overcome the mental traps that hold writers back. I was working happily and productively day after day.
I don’t know if I subconsciously put all of Block’s advice into practice in the last decade, or if I discovered these things on my own. All I know is, this time, WRITE FOR YOUR LIFE didn’t seem full of woo. It seemed full of truth.
WRITE FOR YOUR LIFE is based on a series of seminars Block and his wife conducted, but it’s not like any seminar I’ve ever attended. There is less hyperbole and cheerleading, more action steps and practical advice to get out of your own way and start writing.
Block teaches techniques like freewriting to outrun your internal editor, tapping into your intuition to produce unique work, using affirmations to increase self-esteem, and getting rid of negative thoughts to banish procrastination and writer’s block. That last one is hard to do and Block approaches it from different angles over the course of several chapters. Humans are extremely good at sabotaging our own efforts. Coming up with justifications for staying stuck is as natural as breathing. Block shows us how to root out the self-deception until those words and beliefs no longer have power over us.
Much of WRITE FOR YOUR LIFE will be familiar to anyone who has studied neuro-linguistic programming (or has done The Artist’s Way). Block makes no claim to originality, except that he’s tailoring these practices specifically to writers. Of course he wants you to use things like affirmations, meditation, and bucket lists, because they work. One need look no further than Block’s own publishing history and impressive list of literary awards to see that. He’s learned how to do more writing with less angst, and he wants to show the rest of us how to do it, too.
rating: 4 stars
pie slices: 8 slices inspiration
This book is best for: beginning to intermediate writers
I recommend this book.