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The Mindful Writer: Noble Truths of the Writing Life

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  417 ratings  ·  64 reviews
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 ...more
Hardcover, 152 pages
Published April 10th 2012 by Wisdom Publications (first published January 1st 2012)
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Jun 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Aug 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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.
Oct 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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.
Oct 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016-book-log
What you need when you need some encouragement, compassion, and camaraderie in your writing life.
P.J. Lazos
Apr 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
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: ...more
Feb 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Denise Low
Jul 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Dec 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Jun 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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.
Erika Dreifus
Please see my review in the May 2012 issue of THE WRITER magazine.

(review copy provided by the publisher)
Oct 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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.
Cindy Zelman
Apr 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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.
Mar 28, 2018 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: writers
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.
Theresa Daley
Feb 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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.
Liz Dague
Sep 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This delightful book exceeded my expectations. No doubt- I will return to this again.
Amy Turner
Sep 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Short and full of advice of the "simple but not easy" sort.
Aneudy Espinal
Mar 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
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.
Leeann Diaz
Nov 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-i-own
Truly amazing advice any writer can find value in.
Jun 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
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.
Rose Krusling
Feb 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A very clear and honest insight on the 'writing life'.
Apr 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
When asked how Buddhism influenced his writing, author Dinty Moore was initially stymied for an answer, until, true to his practice, he realized that the question was backwards. It was his writing that influenced his Buddhist practice, not the other way around. With this understanding, Moore provides 59 quotes from writers and Buddhist practitioners, along with short meditations on each. The result is a refreshing perspective on the art of writing, the shortfalls of the all-too-human writer, and ...more
May 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
I truly enjoyed this quick read. The Mindful Writer was full of gems--advice on how to best approach the writing life. I found myself highlighting passages from almost each little chapter. I thought of myself and writer friends as I was reading. For example, the friend who struggles with perfecting sentences as she writes, the friend who struggles with telling the truth, the friend who lacks confidence in her talent. I plan to share passages with them and will suggest that they get their own ...more
Mattea Lynn
Mar 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Dinty W. Moore offers a lot of positive encouragement and makes you feel you are less alone in the world of writing. Moore makes connections between the practice of writing to the practice of Buddhism in a way that is clear and insightful. As a person who is practicing mindfulness meditation and also a amateur writer, I appreciated how he intertwined the facets of each. Both emphasize the need to keep practicing, to keep sitting down and trying again no matter how much "monkey mind" your brain ...more
Jun 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The value of simplicity is that it cuts to the truth. In this case, the truth is that nobly ongoing effort of writers to live mindfully rather than in obedience to what the mind tells them.

The mind might tell them, for instance, not to sweat it, to wait for inspiration. Dinty W. Moore says, through Chuck Close, freeloading off the muse is for chumps. Writers work. Great writers work hard. It may not be the way it always seemed on the other side of the bookshelf. But Moore assures us that even
Richard Gilbert
May 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The Mindful Writer, Dinty Moore's latest book—short, sweet meditations on writing—explains the source of his powers as a prolific writer: an effort at spiritual discipline, an approach to writing that emphasizes exploration and discovery, a love of revision.

Each brief chapter is headed by a quote that Moore loves about writing and which he then writes a few pages reflecting upon. For instance, this classic bon mot by Thomas Mann: “A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it
Mar 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
This pithy little book is filled with quotes and responses/reflections on them to help someone become more mindful in their writing. Though I'm not a Buddhist, I value Buddhist thought and how it can be applied to daily living, and now, to writing.

This is a wonderful little summary of what it means to write, how to think about writing, why bother with the very difficult task of writing anything. There is nothing new here but the advice is framed so that you can embrace it more easily than were
Mar 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: well-done
This tiny book consists of four writing ways: The Writer's Mind; The Writer's Desk; The Writer's Vision; and The Writer's Life. The author looks at all the process of writing through his Buddhist practice and philosophy. The Four Noble Truths for Writers: (1) The Writer's Mind: Where do writing and creativity originate? (2) The Writer's Desk: What does mindfulness mean when you are directly at the task of writing? (3) The Writer's Vision: How do writers mindfully engage their own writing, ...more
Apr 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The quotes are thoughtfully selected, and I enjoyed Moore's brief responses to each one included. There is a Buddhist thread running through here, as the title hints, but it was not a distraction for me. I know I will return to flip through these pages for inspiration on days when my poems aren't coming together and words feel like fair-weather friends.

The book is organized into four sections: The Writer's Mind, The Writer's Desk, The Writer's Vision, and The Writer's Life. Perhaps because of
Jun 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
For easy access to this trove of writerly reassurances, I have this downloaded on my phone and the tablet I use for daily writing. Dinty has compiled great author quotes into three loosely defined sections, and reflects on each through a Zen Buddhist lens for a few lines up to about a page. It's a great addition to a writer's toolbox, for inspiration and meditation. I open it up when I'm having block to get my head back in the game.

For a flavor, here is the first quote, of which I am quite fond:
Apr 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed, books-i-own
The Mindful Writer is divided into four sections: The Writer's Mind, The Writer's Desk, The Writer's Vision, and The Writer's Life. Each section has many quotes by various authors, followed by a brief response by the author. Thoughtful quotes and responses make this short book a pretty inspiring read.

As a writer, I really related to a lot of what is said in this book. This little book has a lot of advice and it is definitely a book I will revisit from time to time. It is a pleasant, quick read.

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Dinty W. Moore is the author of numerous books, and has published essays and stories in The Southern Review, The Georgia Review, Harpers, The New York Times Sunday Magazine, Gettysburg Review, Utne Reader, and Crazyhorse. He edits BREVITY, the journal of concise creative nonfiction ( and teaches at Ohio University.
“Not all writing is political or revolutionary, but the very act of giving yourself permission to write, to speak, to share the truth no matter whether the truth you understand is the truth others want to acknowledge, is brave, powerful, and important.” 3 likes
“Exercise the muscles that compassionately open the heart.

In your writing and your life.”
More quotes…