Authors, this post is for you if you’re looking for writing inspiration, you need look no further than Brande’s classic Becoming a Writer.
Readers (who aren’t writers) this book might give you tips for how you can work to accomplish whatever goals you may have. Her tips actually work when applied to any task you want to accomplish, from learning coding to learning a new language.
I take notes when I read, and I found myself highlighting everything. Nearly every line of Brande’s could be a tip on a coffee mug. Every sentence is motivational while also realistic. She doesn’t promise you’ll write a best seller; she reminds you that you can write, despite every obstacle thrown in your path. It takes dedication and a willingness to do something for your own good.
I’ve been trying out Brande’s advice with varying results. When I read the book in 2018, I started getting up a bit earlier to write. Typically the first half an hour was grumbled and garbled as I struggle to wake up, but the second half hour was productive.
In the last two years, I was able to accomplish two major writing goals: to move my previous blog’s posts into Word documents to save them, and to begin an adaptation of a novel into a film.
There’s a feel-good factor in this. I now know how morning athletes feel when they’ve already run ten miles and it’s only 8 a.m. I feel the same. I wouldn’t have gotten here without Brande’s kind but forceful encouragement.
But I haven’t been able to keep it up. It’s been difficult to get up early for a few months, so instead I decided to try a different tip: to cultivate a temperament to be able to write at any time of day.
My current life demands that I focus on difficult editing tasks in the morning, moving my writing time to after lunch—when my brain is usually dead. I struggle.
Day-by-day in fifteen-minute increments, I’m getting myself to write after lunch, just snippets. It’s been two months and afternoon writing is getting much easier.
What I want to tell readers about this book is that Brande has actionable suggestions and useful advice. I recommend every writer read this book and choose one tip to work on over a few weeks. If it doesn’t work, try a different one. If nothing else, you’ll come away feeling good, and it’ll last a while, so take advantage of it to get some words down!
This book weaves through time and history, and as a reader, I wanted certain connections to happen, but they never did. While it was frustrating, I also constantly reminded myself that most of the connections that happen in many stories are a type of wish fulfillment; this story never lets you forget that it isn’t really how life is.
What drove me nuts, you ask? The characters were aware of their family history to a certain extent, but I wanted them to be looking for their roots. It was such a strong desire that I had to put the book down from time to time and ask myself why it was so important to me that a person be interested in knowing where they come from. I haven’t been able to answer that yet.
Once I finished, I was left with so many questions. How can people search for their roots if they were torn from them? How many connections in life are really coincidence? How much history have we lost?
The world has yet to own up to its role in the destruction of Africa’s families and the effects that has on its descendants to this day. Somewhere in my past, my ancestors must have played some part, yet those are not the stories that get passed down. It’s part of the lost history.
What I want to tell others about this book is that I’m overwhelmingly grateful to Gyasi for opening my eyes to something I know little about. I originally thought the message from the book was “That’s life.” On further contemplation I’ve realized it’s actually, “That’s people.” My world feels a little darker right now.
I read a lot and I hope to help authors with the craft of writing. I share good examples of difficult aspects of writing: point of view, narration, world building and more.
Occasionally I give editing tips and share insights from the world of publishing.
Posts on editing
Posts on publishing
Posts on books