February 5, 2009

Book review: Creative Journal Writing: the art and heart of reflection (Stephanie Dowrick)

I’ve reviewed more than one or two books on writing, and as an English teacher, I’ve read through and used or ignored even more.  Some have been not-so-inspiring, with lackluster activities designed to spark writing, but more often than not leave me kind of flat.  Others have managed to hit the right chord and encourage me to grab a pen and journal to give the suggestions a try.  Stephanie Dowrick’s Creative Journal Writing: the art and heart of reflection, definitely falls into the latter category. Drawing from known and unknown writers’ comments and reflections on writing as well as her own experience, Dowrick has put together a book of suggestions and ideas and inspirations with a wide enough range of activities to keep any writer interested, whether beginner or professional.  Writing exercises scattered throughout the book range from pretty basic (e.g. free write for ten minutes) to more advanced and reflective (e.g., writing your spiritual story).  Dowrick also urges her reader/writer to allow room to be oneself and to grow, and most importantly to not feel guilty for those days when the words just don’t want to come out, so no writing gets done.  Too many books on writing tell the reader “you must write, write, write everyday or you’ll never succeed.”  Instead, Dowrick suggests a careful dance between inspiration and discipline to guide each person’s writing process; an idea that is rather liberating in and of itself.  Available this month from Penguin Group and available from your local, independent bookstores. (Tell ’em Elephant Journal sent ya!)

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