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The Mindful Writer: Noble Truths of the Writing Life

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Going a step beyond typical "how to write" books, Moore illuminates the creative process: where writing and creativity originate, how mindfulness plays into work, how to cultivate good writing habits, how to grow as a writer — and a person! — and what it means to have a life dedicated to the craft of writing. There's not a writer alive, novice or master, who will not benefit from this book and fall in love with it. Cover to cover, this wise little book is riveting and delightful. Readers will turn to The Mindful Writer again and again as a source inspiration, guidance, and support.

152 pages, Hardcover

First published April 10, 2012

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About the author

Dinty W. Moore

28 books178 followers
Dinty W. Moore is author of the award-winning memoir Between Panic & Desire, the writing guides The Story Cure and Crafting the Personal Essay, and many other books. He has published essays and stories in The Georgia Review, Harper’s, The New York Times Magazine, The Southern Review, Kenyon Review, Creative Nonfiction, and elsewhere. He is founding editor of Brevity, the journal of flash nonfiction, and teaches master classes and workshops across the United States as well as in Ireland, Scotland, Spain, Switzerland, Canada, and Mexico.

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5 stars
233 (38%)
4 stars
228 (38%)
3 stars
99 (16%)
2 stars
24 (4%)
1 star
16 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 99 reviews
Profile Image for Cyndi.
2,326 reviews95 followers
April 24, 2019
An interesting zen look at the art of writing.
Profile Image for Cathleen.
177 reviews57 followers
November 8, 2015
A slim book that holds much more to think about than the number of pages suggest. A little gem for anyone who likes to write,who teaches writing, or who is simply interested in how writers and a writer who is a Buddhist think about their craft and art.
Profile Image for Ryan.
517 reviews
June 6, 2019
This non-fiction book was first published in 2016 by American essayist and writer, Dinty W. Moore. The book combines the practice of mindfulness, rooted in Moore’s own Buddhist beliefs and practice, with the act and art of writing. The book is separated into sections such as “The Writer’s Mind” and “The Writer’s Desk” and “The Writer’s Vision” which each contain several small essays on the application of mindfulness to writing, each starting with a quote from an acclaimed author. I found this books to be so inspiring and so practical. The advice in this slim volume ranges from the existential to the practical and mundane, each building on the next to encourage even the most blocked writer to pick up a pen or keyboard and keep going. I’ve been really invested in mindfulness for the past few months and it’s changed the way I see everything. Writing is no exception, but this book has encouraged me to deepen my practice and really trudge forward with some projects. I absolutely love this book and I think anyone who wants to write in any capacity should read this book. ★★★★★ • Hardcover • Nonficiton - Mindfulness, Writing • Purchased online. ◾︎
Profile Image for Joan.
324 reviews5 followers
March 24, 2016
This book is full of practical ways to slow down and be more mindful when writing. Peppered with quotes from spiritual teachers and writers, the author uses these to look at writing through a mindful lens inspired by Buddhism. I didn't find this book to be religious or heavy handed. It primarily uses Buddhist thought to ask question and look at the writing process from a different perspective. It reminded me a little of Liz Gilbert's "Big Magic." I would recommend this to anyone looking to go deeper into the writing process.

Thank you to Net Galley for a complimentary digital copy of "The Mindful Writer."
Profile Image for Stephanie.
Author 9 books87 followers
October 15, 2015
Writing life books. I've read a few. Translated: MANY! This is one of the best. I'll be referring to it from now on. It has made me look at my calling in a different way, which, after 30 plus years of writing, as all one can ask.
Profile Image for JournalsTLY.
201 reviews1 follower
August 29, 2021
Recording 3 favourite thoughts from this book -

1) We do not write to be understood. We write in order to understand (C. Day Lewis)
2) Compassion is a verb ( Thich Nhat Hanh) ...and is indispensable for the author; requires that we understand - even if we disagree. Compassion has no room for blame.
3) With curiosity , a writer will always move forward.

This is more than a book about writing. It speaks of values and affirms the person not just performance.

Insights about going beyond the success or lack of success that we understand.
Profile Image for Carol.
Author 5 books18 followers
March 6, 2018
I like the quotes he chose for the book. If you are stuck or feel alone as you write, reading the quotes and his brief reflections on them will show you that you are not alone. Go write.
Profile Image for Jenny Kangasvuo.
Author 18 books35 followers
February 23, 2019
Aika höttöinen kokoelma kirjoittamiseen liittyviä sitaatteja ja niiden tulkintoja zen/mindfulness-hengessä. Oli siellä ehkä yksittäisiä hyviäkin ajatuksia seassa, mutta kokoelmana jätti aika tyhjän fiiliksen. En varsinaisesti suosittele.
Profile Image for Jessica Biggs.
898 reviews16 followers
June 24, 2020

Very short little book full of inspiration, advice, and just good sense for writers and struggling writers. This is a book I can come back to again and again when needed
Profile Image for P.J. Lazos.
Author 5 books55 followers
April 18, 2016
Taking its cue for Zen Buddhism, Dinty W. Moore examines the nature of writing in his lovely little book, “The Mindful Writer, Noble Truths of the Writing Life.” A former disillusioned Catholic, Dinty Moore became enamored of the Buddhist religion while conducting research for his book, “The Accidental Buddhist.” The beauty of The Accidental Buddhist, besides being a stellar work of non-fiction, is that it makes a case for Buddhism without even trying. For me, Buddhism goes something like this: “Come. Don’t come. Do only what make sense to you, but don’t grasp onto any of it too tightly because it will only give you brush burns. We’ll be here mindfully waiting until whenever you’re ready to begin.” Sounds great, right? The big enchilada of Buddhism is about being non-judgmental and full-time into mindfulness. Those things are really the cornerstone of all the world’s major religions, but I think the Buddhists do it best because they place a premium on it and put it square in the center of everything. If you look at the world through the filter of non-judgment, non-attachment, and mindfulness you can’t help but have a better understanding of life, or at least not get so upset about it, and ultimately, you’ll be a better person.

Enter writing, or more specifically, Buddhism and writing. "The Mindful Writer" explores how Moore’s own creative pursuits opened his heart and his mind in ways he could not hope to comprehend at the time he set out on the path, and how his own struggles as a writer helped steer him toward a deeper understanding of Buddhism. The Mindful Writer is a book that Moore is uniquely qualified to write.

The Four Noble Truths for Writers as explained by Moore are:

— The writing life is difficult, full of disappointment and dissatisfaction.
— Much of this dissatisfaction comes from the ego, from our insistence on controlling both the process of writing and how the world reacts to what we have written.
— There is no way to lessen the disappointment and dissatisfaction and to live a more fruitful writing life.
— The way to accomplish this is to make both the practice of writing and the work itself less about ourselves. To thrive, we must be mindful of our motives and our attachment to desired outcomes.

The book is separated into four parts — the writers mind, the writers desk, the writer’s vision, and the writer’s life. It is full of wonder and insight and fabulous quotes, the type of book that you’ll want in your permanent library even if you are not a writer, but simply someone interested in living a more authentic life. So take a breath, grab a coffee, and enjoy a few precious, non-attached, mindful moments and see what wisdom "The Mindful Writer" unleashes in you.
Profile Image for Maggie.
60 reviews4 followers
February 26, 2013
As I was reading this, I found myself wishing some parts were longer, in part because I found many sections to be very insightful, but also because I was enjoying the book as a whole and didn't want it to be over so quickly. Here's the thing, though: no matter how many texts you read about Buddhism, eventually you just have to sit down and meditate. Reading about enlightenment is no more likely to bring it to you than reading about a million dollars would fatten your bank account. Likewise, no matter how many books about writing we may read, we ultimately become better writers only by writing. Moore offers us things to keep considering on our own, to carry into our own daily practice.

The quotes he riffs off of in this book are meant to show the universality of the writing experience, that no matter how much or how much better we write, we're still going to encounter patches of doubt, stacks of pages that need to be tossed out, or times when we'd rather be doing anything besides writing. While this book didn't offer me a new set of exercises or an extensive discussion of craft, it did get me thinking about how I can be more mindful and more deliberate in my writing and challenged me to think about why it is I write. That, to me, was incredibly valuable. Though I checked this out of the library, I'll be picking up a copy to add to my collection and revisit when I need a reminder about why it is I do what I do.
Profile Image for DeniseLow DeniseLow.
Author 21 books11 followers
July 9, 2012
Dinty W. Moore is a master writer--he writes textbooks about writing, and he has the tickets for this position as an author and professor. But don't let that get in the way of enjoying his engaging book about the challenges of writing. He is a fellow sufferer in the world of 10,000 writerly pains. In _The Mindful Writer_, 59 sections begin with quotations from eminent writers, then Moore comments on them. Section 1 begins "A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people" (Thomas Mann). Moore illuminates this paradox: "Because we care about finding the precise word, the clearest expression, and we understand that sometimes a thought needs to be revised tens or hundreds of times before we find the perfect way to say what we really mean." Moore outlines the noble truths of writing. His four sections identify four modes of solving the writer's ongoing koan: "The Writer's Mind," "The Writer's Desk," "The Writer's Vision," and "The Writer's Life." Moore's book _The Accidental Buddhist_ is one of my all time favorites. This book adds to his teachings. I plan to buy extra copies to share with my many suffring writer friends.
Profile Image for Andrew.
369 reviews10 followers
February 25, 2016
There was a sameness in style throughout this book that I found rather annoying, and in spite of the great quotations selected by the author and the mostly insightful commentary, I was prepared to rate this one three stars. I don't know how closely The Mindful Writer really comes to applying the noble truths to the writing life, but as I was talking to someone about writing the day after finishing it, I realized how much I kept referring back to the insights Moore shares here. There are some good metaphors, some liberation, some advocacy, some celebration, and lots of encouragement to be found in this book. A strange experience, liking a book better after finishing it than while reading it, but I guess that makes it a process. The cake is, after all, tastier than the batter.
Profile Image for Sir.
37 reviews
June 16, 2012
A lot of stones have been thrown about by writers for writers or about the writing world. Dinty Moore seems to get them all right. He polishes them and in some cases, cuts new facets into them, revealing new angles and several become beautiful gems of wisdom and truth. An inspiring and truthful little book that I think will remain on my writing desk.
Profile Image for Cindy Zelman.
23 reviews2 followers
April 23, 2012
Inspiring, calming, identifiable. If you're a writer, let this book help you to feel like you're doing it right, even on your worst days.
Profile Image for Rebecca.
51 reviews
October 15, 2015
Just the boost I needed for my writing life. I think this will be a book to set by my writing desk for a good long while to revisit when I need.
Profile Image for Vanessa.
50 reviews9 followers
March 28, 2018
Charming little book. Mindfulness has had such a profound, powerful impact on my life that I appreciate that this book was able to bridge it and writing together. Although it didn't blow my mind, I will say that this book has earned its place as a permanent fixture on my bookshelf. I found it insightful enough to come around to in the future when I need a quick hit of inspiration.
Profile Image for Carlos Ramos.
Author 2 books6 followers
September 15, 2021
A great book for a writer... or for any artist, really.

It grounds and motivates, it mentions some truths from the craft, and there is not much to be done other than accept and keep going.

Really recommended if you are an artist, and especially a writer, and wonder about life and why you write.
3 reviews
January 21, 2022
I enjoyed this short little book. I read it for a class and thought the discussions it created were helpful. I wouldn't say I learned anything new but there were many good reminders of what it means to be a writer and how to live a more productive writing life. I appreciated the quotes each chapter began with and I will definetely return to the writing prompts Moore provides.
Profile Image for Elizabeth Andrew.
Author 6 books121 followers
February 23, 2022
I've been toting this little gem in my purse for the past week, reading snippets at the dentist and while waiting to pick my daughter up at school. Dinty Moore gives an excellent introduction to writing as a mindfulness practice, then reflects on various quotations by way of illustration. This primer is a gift to the writing community.
Profile Image for Theresa Daley.
19 reviews1 follower
February 28, 2019
Another fantastic book by Dinty W. Moore.
A beautiful little hardback that can be opened at any page and read at any time.
So simple, so profound.

A book you can open and read again, and again.
Keep it in your bag for when you need something to get you pondering.
Profile Image for Grace Dague.
12 reviews22 followers
September 25, 2017
This delightful book exceeded my expectations. No doubt- I will return to this again.
March 19, 2018
It's a little book on inspiration for writing. Quick and fun read. Lots of aha moments and lots of gems to get the creative juices flowing. I recommend it to anyone who writes for any reason.
Profile Image for Pauline.
Author 7 books77 followers
June 13, 2018
Super little book: fast to read, full of nuggets on the true enjoyment and meaning of being a writer. Uses quotes from a range of famous authors to explore how writing and mindfulness intersect.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 99 reviews

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