One Continuous Mistake : Four Noble Truths for Writers

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9780140195873: One Continuous Mistake : Four Noble Truths for Writers
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Based on the Zen philosophy that we learn more from our failures than from our successes, One Continuous Mistake teaches a refreshing new method for writing as spiritual practice. In this unique guide for writers of all levels, Gail Sher?a poet who is also a widely respected teacher of creative writing?combines the inspirational value of Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way with the spiritual focus of Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind. Here she introduces a method of discipline that applies specific Zen practices to enhance and clarify creative work. She also discusses bodily postures that support writing, how to set up the appropriate writing regimen, and how to discover one's own "learning personality."

In the tradition of such classics as Writing Down the Bones and If You Want to Write, One Continuous Mistake will help beginning writers gain access to their creative capabilities while serving as a perennial reference that working writers can turn to again and again for inspiration and direction.

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In One Continuous Mistake, Gail Sher applies the teachings of Zen Buddhism to the creative-writing process. Though there are a few writing exercises here, this is less a workbook than a series of meditations on how to be a writer. "When you read Zen literature," says Sher, "you must read each sentence with a fresh mind." And so should you write. "The real work of writing is, day after day, to discover how to maintain freshness." To do so, Sher advises (among other things) a single-minded focus, a daily writing period, sitting with a straight spine, and "letting words fall freely, without editing or censuring." By doing so, says Sher, your body "gives birth ... to what you never expected, predicted, could have thought up." Only then, adds Sher, should you revise. And when you do, revise boldly. "As Suzuki-roshi used to say about getting up when the alarm rings," she says, "'Never make the same decision twice.'" --Jane Steinberg

About the Author:

Gail Sher is the author of eight books of poetry and one book on breadmaking, in addition to her books on writing. Awarded Teacher of the Year by the combined educational faculties of the University of California at Berkeley, Stanford University, and San Francisco State University, she has taught graduate classes in writing, psychology, and Zen for many years. She lives in Berkeley, California.

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