I facilitate a writer's group, Deadwood Writers, teach writing, and strive to live a writer's life. Of the many books on writing, this book is a must have if you want to develop or fine-tune your craft. Barry Lane and Bruce Ballenger crafted a book that guides you through 40 days of writing. The techniques used are varied. Setting aside 30 minutes a day, yes you can do that, each day begins with a fastwrite (7-10 minutes), reflection on the writing + examples by the authors, and a final writing activity. The authors open up creative intelligence avenues through webbing, photography, and other strategies that gives the reader-writer varied ways to start and/or deepen their writing.
The book addresses challenges to writing, the inner critic, as does other authors: Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg, Bird by Bird by Anne Lamont, Breathing in Breathing Out by Ralph Fletcher. The critical difference for writers is that you write. It's not just philosophy. The book is experiential so that philosophy is put to practice.
I found added value by using one journal to do each day's tasks. This enabled me to review previous work, which the authors have you do.
Get the book, a journal or notebook, or napkin scraps (heavy duty type), a pen and experience a 40 day journey that will have you writing in the moment and beyond day forty-one.
The exercises in this book are well worth the time they take to complete. As the title hints, writing should be an act of discovery. Whether you are wanting to get started in taking up the writing habit or a seasoned writer, this book will help breathe new life into your writing. Many of the exercises get you to think outside of the box. Two of my favorites are 20 Ways of Looking at an Elm Tree and Divorcing the Draft. The first involves taking pictures and the second calls for attacking your beloved draft with scissors!
Ballenger and Lanes exercises have served me well over the years, both as a writer and a teacher. Moreso than any other approach to teaching writing that I've encountered, theirs is the most authentic. This book is the next best thing to actually being able to take a writing class from one of them. If you take the time to complete all of the exercises, you won't regret it. Jeri White