(Be sure to come back tomorrow for my interview with Lariane Herring.)
I recently read two wonderful books for writers: Writing Begins with the Breath and The Writing Warrior, both by Laraine Herring. What fascinated me most about Herring’s books is her premise that writing is a whole body experience as opposed to simply an intellectual one. Herring is interested in what she calls, ‘deep writing.’ Deep writing is what appears on the page when the writer’s voice is rooted in their most authentic self. Herring believes that deep writing comes from the body, not from the brain. She presents the intriguing idea that though language comes from the mind, our stories are stored in our cells, in our bodies. It is a fresh approach and one I agree with, as will anyone who has ever been in love, grieved, or felt butterflies in their stomach. Both Writing Begins with the Breath and The Writing Warrior are intended to strengthen this connection between our heads and our bodies and to enable each of us to access our own deep writing.
In Writing Begins with the Breath Herring focuses, unsurprisingly, on the breath. She teaches how to use the breath to quiet the mind so that inspiration may bloom and also so that the writer may learn how to follow and focus their own mind. The book is divided into three parts: Focusing the Mind, The Deep Writing Process and Embracing What and Where You Are. Interspersed throughout the book are simple exercises intended to help you stay grounded during the process and at the end of each chapter writing prompts and exercises can be found. The book is well-written, well-organized and different enough from most of the books for writers that it is worth seeking out.
The Writing Warrior grows so naturally out of Writing Begins with the Breath that the two books blend seamlessly if read together they way I did. In The Writing Warrior Herring acknowledges the courage it takes to be a writer. I found myself nodding in agreement to much of what Herring offers up in both these books, but I particularly agreed with this sentiment. It does take bravery to be a writer. To write your own truth (yes, even when writing fiction), to expose yourself and hope that your words resonate and connect with readers takes courage. Herring has travelled this path and in this book offers guidance and reassurance to those who feel uncertain and stuck in their writing. The breath continues to be a focus in The Writing Warrior and a fun movement practice is added. And there are plenty of writing exercises in this book as well.
My favourite part of The Writing Warrior was Part Three. Titled, ‘Dissolving Your Illusions’ this section alone is worth the price of the book. Here Herring succinctly tackles many of the obstacles writers commonly face, such as: Illusion of Time, Illusion of What a Writer is, Illusion of Control, Illusion of Distractions, Illusion of Money, Illusion of Publication, Success and Fame. Herring slays popular myths about the writer’s life and offers commonsense advice along with encouragement.
These two books, like all my favourite books on writing, are not simply about how to write, but are manuals on how to live. Herring is not only a good writer but she is also a gifted teacher, and for this we are lucky. To have her warm, knowledgeable and thoughtful voice on your bookshelf is something I wish for all writers.
To find out more about Laraine Herring visit her website at: wwwlaraineherring.com.