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Escaping Into the Open
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Escaping Into the Open

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  1,344 ratings  ·  119 reviews
Elizabeth Berg touches women's lives with heartbreakingly funny and true novels -- including the New York Times bestseller Talk Before Sleep -- that distinctly capture the essence of their lives. Now this critically acclaimed author and writing instructor offers an inspiring, practical handbook on the joys, challenges, and creative possibilities inherent in the writing ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published May 30th 2000 by Harpperen (first published 1999)
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Average rating 4.07  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,344 ratings  ·  119 reviews

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Sep 04, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: those wanting to write
As I read this book, I feel as if I am having tea with my friend and we are sharing our joy of writing.
Apr 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Aspiring Writers
Shelves: biography-memoir
A few years back, I had the pleasure of hearing Elizabeth Berg speak at a literary event. This memoir / writing manual is consistent with the message she gave then. Berg was a 'regular person' (mom, wife, and nurse) when she started writing and had relatively instant and big success early on in her efforts, which gives the impression that anyone can do this. She is of course extraordinarily talented, so perhaps it simply came easy for her. However, her suggestions for beginning and/or developing ...more
Apr 13, 2010 rated it did not like it
I wanted to like this one, but I just didn't. I've found that if I like someone's non-fiction (like Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird), then I don't like her fiction very much. I think the reverse is true here, since I like Berg's fiction. As an aspiring writer I really wanted to like this book and find it helpful, but it was almost too condescending. I didn't like the tone and ended up returning it to the library unfinished.
Amelia Strydom
Sep 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
"Writing non-fiction is like a three-in-the-afternoon, sunny-day walk, where one foot naturally precedes the other toward a known destination, where the path both behind and ahead is well defined. Writing fiction, on the other hand, feels like being in some dark place where I don't see anything well, but I walk on anyway, trusting in something I cannot really define, having no idea where I'll end up."
This is one of the best descriptions of writing I've come across. For me, writing a book feels
Donna Mork
Feb 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Good writing tool. Gives you lots of tips and hints about writing, as well as homework to practice the craft.
May 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Practical writing advice and inspiration.
Ruth Knox
Aug 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Yikes! What a wonderful book by a very readable writer. This is Elizabeth Berg's book for writers on writing, and it is one of the best I have had the pleasure of devouring. Not only is she an engaging writer, Elizabeth's take on the art and business of writing is open and fluid. She believes in listening to one's own heart and paying attention to intuition.

In addition to good, common-sense advice and exercises for writers at every level of their career, Elizabeth weaves in stories for the
Jul 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Like many book fanatics, I fantasize writing myself. This book opened my eyes as to how to dip my toes into the experience of doing just that. I really enjoy most of Berg's books and stories so I appreciated the biographical section of the book. Since I admire her writing style it was impactful for me to know how she got started and her tips to get started myself. I do feel a certain kinship with Berg after reading almost all of her novels and her book of short stories. The writing exercises to ...more
Nov 15, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2009
This is a writing book - part account of how Berg writes herself, part exercises to help readers create some writing.

I have read the book twice. the first time I read it through without stopping, ignoring the creative writing exercises completely. The second time I read it slowly, and completed those exercises that inspired me. I will never write as simply and beautifully as Berg, and the things that I did write were autobiographical, not fiction, but they were very meaningful to me. I shall
Mostly stream-of-consciousness writing advice and encouragement with a good number of exercises included. It does give a good feel for how she writes and the time a project can take. She's also not as dogmatic as some writers, making it clear that not everyone is the same and not every writing project is the same, either. Probably a book best read a bit at a time so you can absorb what's useful for you.
Aug 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in writing. Anyone who likes Elizabeth Berg's books.
Recommended to Nicki by: Someone on Facebook
Absolutely loved this book. Its very encouraging and makes you want to have a go at writing everything and anything. It's not just for professional writers but for people who feels like they want to try expressing themselves through this media. There are lots of exercises to get you started, which I haven't tried yet. There is also lots of information if you want to become a professional writer. As soon as I finished it I felt like I could read it all over again and still enjoy it immensely.
Jul 23, 2011 rated it liked it
Most of this was skimmable. I didn't find the "homework" very valuable.
I think she's a great writer but not really very sure how to teach it.
I did love the chapter on writing about the senses.
Dec 01, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Open-hearted writing technique
Heather Mattern
Jan 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015-adventures
My new favorite writing book! Elizabeth Berg never fails to inspire me with her writing.
Dec 05, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction
Mediocre how-to/inspirational book on writing.
Pam Laird
Jan 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: students of writing
There are some truly great writing exercises that always work for me, no matter how many times I've used them. Elizabeth has captured so many that I keep her book near my writing desk at all times.
Andrew Forrester
Jan 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book off and on over the last two months. It reminded me a lot of a more practical Bird by Bird, and I wish I had read it earlier in my "journey" (gross) toward taking my writing more seriously. A lot of the tips—about submitting manuscripts, handling rejection—are good, if a little outdated, but I got the sense that they were for people who've never thought about writing professionally until picking up Berg's book. Which is great! Just not super illuminating for me.

However, what I
Sarah Rigg
Nov 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
My mother gave this to me as a gift, and said she thought it might be too much of a "beginner" book on writing. It is, in some ways, a book for a less experienced writer than I am. She's assuming the reader has never been in a writing class (in fact I majored in creative writing in college and have taken many classes) or to a writing group (I've been part of three or four) or attempted publication (I've been published several times). However, I also find that *any* book on the craft of writing ...more
Barb Anders
Oct 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I love Elizabeth Berg and there is very few books that I don't enjoy of hers. This is a non fiction writing tool that is has different exercises to practice your writing skills and all of the advice she gives is wonderful....I've journaled and tried to write many different times over the last 4 decades and this book makes me feel like if I truly want to do this, I need to put the work in....and keep at it! Great advice and things to make you feel very creative....again, I read ...more
David Doty
Apr 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Both entertaining and practical, this "how-to" book by Elizabeth Berg provides aspiring (and current) authors a wealth of helpful tips on how to become a better (and published) writer. With chapters such as "Getting Started," "Exercises to Unleash Your Creativity," "Making the Move from Nonfiction to Fiction," "Techniques for Getting Unstuck," and "The Business of Writing," Berg shares many of her own experiences as an author, and guides the reader, even one who has never published anything, ...more
Oct 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is a thoughtful, delightful, and humorous introspection into the art of writing. It’s a very quick and light read and I think it’s perfect whether you are wanting to dip your toe into writing, or if you are looking for some inspiration to pick up the craft again (like myself). This book is written from the heart, and while I don’t agree or adhere to all of the advice given, the book sets a casual enough tone to allow for those differences of opinion. Refreshing all around. Plus there ...more
Katie Proctor
Dec 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: writing-books
For some reason it took me a really long time to get through this one (mostly bc I got distracted by great fiction over and over), but I enjoyed most of it. Some of it is a little dated (ie- mailing in submissions for publication), but I found a lot of it to be universal and inspiring for any aspiring writer.
Mar 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: writing
Berg doesn’t sugarcoat what is required to become a published writer, but she absolutely believes you can do it, and she gives you inspiration, writing prompts, homework, and just the right amount of pants-kicking and hand-holding. Every aspiring (or temporarily disengaged) writer can benefit from reading this book.
Josephine Ensign
Although I found her cheerful chirping about how easy writing comes to her and how quickly she can dash off a book--decidedly annoying (and suspiciously un-truthful perhaps)--the rest of the book was interesting. I like that she makes the connections between her work as a nurse and her writerly instincts and insights into human nature.
Most of the submitting advice is very dated now (use a self-addressed stamped envelope? follow up with a phone call? HAHAHA!) and some of the content is irrelevant (10 recipes, and not even ones that the author invented herself?), but the writing tips are timeless, helpful, and inspiring.
Jul 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: about-writing
I good book for those who write fiction at the beginning or advanced beginner stage. Although it was a little more basic than my current skill level, I thought many of the writing prompts were particularly creative and enjoyed them.
Sam Figura
Jan 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
Excellent book!
Patty Mcdonald
Aug 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic. Love Elizabeth Berg's books! Writers (and aspiring writers) will want to pick up a copy of this one.
Jul 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very well written and gets into the mind of a writer. Best for a beginner because the assignments take time away from "writing."
Nov 26, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ideal for a writer just starting out.
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Elizabeth Berg is the New York Times bestselling author of many novels, including We Are All Welcome Here, The Year of Pleasures, The Art of Mending, Say When, True to Form, Never Change, and Open House, which was an Oprah’s Book Club selection in 2000. Durable Goods and Joy School were selected as ALA Best Books of the Year, and Talk Before Sleep was short-listed for the ABBY Award in 1996. The ...more
“The best thing that can happen to me when I'm writing fiction is to lose sight of the fact that I'm writing at all. It's as though I enter into a kind of trance. I know I'm writing, but I don't THINK about it. I just let my fingers type--it's as though the feeling comes out directly through them, bypassing the brain altogether. When that happens, I feel completely transported. There is nothing else like this feeling, very little else is more important to me. That intimacy I feel between myself and my work is what makes me feel at home on the earth. I am basically a shy person, basically a loner and an outsider; and I have been all my life. But when I achieve the kind of connection I can through writing, I feel I'm sitting in the lap of God.” 2 likes
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