Dorothea Brande’s “Becoming a Writer:” 6 Tips for Entrepreneurs

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in skmurphy

Dorothea Brande wrote “Becoming a Writer” in 1934. The book remains in print today and offers valuable tips for both writers and entrepreneurs.

Doreathea Brande’s “Becoming a Writer”
Offers Six Tips for Entrepreneurs

  1. Creativity Requires a Craftsman, a Critic, and a Genius
  2. Contemplation and Meditation Improve Your Thinking
  3. Morning Pages
  4. Schedule Time to Wrte
  5. Establish a Habit of a Good, Steady, Satisfying Flow of Work
  6. Keep Your Eyes and Ears Open

Creativity Requires a Craftsman, a Critic, and a Genius

  1. craftsman
  2. critic
  3. genius

Contemplation and Meditation Improve Your Thinking

“Genius is to mind as mind is to body: to think clearly still your body, to unlock genius still your thoughts.”
Dorothea Brande in “Becoming a Writer

 

Morning Pages

Write anything that comes into your head: last night’s dream, if you are able to remember it; the activities of the day before; a conversation, real or imaginary; an examination of conscience. Write any sort of early morning reverie, rapidly and uncritically.

The best way to do this is to rise half an hour, or a full hour, earlier than you customarily rise. Just as soon as you can—and without talking, without reading the morning’s paper, without picking up the book you laid aside the night before—begin to write.

Write anything that comes into your head: last night’s dream, if you are able to remember it; the activities of the day before, a conversation, real or imaginary; an examination of conscience. Write any sort of early morning reverie, rapidly and uncritically. The excellence or ultimate worth of what you write is of no importance yet. As a matter of fact, you will find more value in this material than you expect, but your primary purpose now is not to bring forth deathless words, but to write any words at all which are not pure nonsense.”

Dorothea Brande in “Becoming a Writer

Julia in “Artists Way at Work” outlined this process and called it morning pages, without ever mentioning Dorothea Brande’s name or giving her any credit.

Schedule Time to Write

“SUCCEED, OR STOP WRITING

Right here I should like to sound the solemnest warning that you will find in this book: If you fail repeatedly at this exercise, give up writing. Your resistance is actually greater than your desire to write, and you may as well find some other outlet for your energy as early as late.

These two strange and arbitrary performances—early morning writing, and writing by prearrangement—should be kept up till you write fluently at will.”

Dorothea Brande in “Becoming a Writer

You have to be able to schedule time to work on your business while you still have a day job and follow through. If you tell yourself it will be easier when you quit your day job and start bootstrapping full time you could not be more wrong: there are more demands on your time and once you no longer have a regular paycheck the timer is running on when you exhaust your savings, which only compounds the pressure on you to get our business off the ground.

Establish a Habit of a Good, Steady, Satisfying Flow of Work

“If you are going in for a lifetime of writing, it stands to reason that you must learn to work without the continual use of stimulants, so find what ones you can use in moderation and what must be dropped. Bursts of work are not what you are out to establish as your habit, but a good, steady, satisfying flow, rising occasionally to an extraordinary level of performance, but seldom falling below what you have discovered is your own normal output. A completely honest inventory, taken every two or three months, or twice a year at the least, will keep you up to the best and most abundant writing of which you are capable.”
Dorothea Brande in “Becoming a Writer

This passage reminds me of Anthony Trollope’s observation that, “A small daily task, if it be really daily, will beat the labors of a spasmodic Hercules.” I think software entrepreneurs in particular can fall victim to the belief that they can compress a week’s worth of work into a weekend. For the most part this merely enables procrastination followed by a combination of burnout, poor performance, and missed objectives.

Keep Your Eyes and Ears Open

“The genius keeps all his days the vividness and intensity of interest that a sensitive child feels in his expanding world. Many of us keep this responsiveness well into adolescence; very few mature men and women are fortunate enough to preserve it in their routine lives. Most of us are only intermittently aware, even in youth, and the occasions on which adults see and feel and hear with every sense alert become rarer and rarer with the passage of years. Too many of us allow ourselves to go about wrapped in our personal problems, walking blindly through our days with our attention all given to some petty matter of no particular importance. The true neurotic may be engrossed in a problem so deeply buried in his being that he could not tell you what it is that he is contemplating, and the sign of his neurosis is his ineffectiveness in the real world. The most normal of us allow ourselves to become so insulated by habit that few things can break through our preoccupations except truly spectacular events—a catastrophe happening under our eyes, our indolent strolling blocked by a triumphal parade; it must be a matter which challenges us in spite of ourselves.”
Dorothea Brande in “Becoming a Writer

orbiting the giant hairball, every kid in a kindergarten class is an artist but school soon stamps it out of us.

How to retain the sense of wonder and careful observation you had as a newcomer or a child. This is the strength of “in the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities” part of Suzuki quote

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