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Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life
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Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  3,776 ratings  ·  474 reviews
"Everything I know about life, I learned from the daily practice of sitting down to write."

From the best-selling author of Devotion and Slow Motion comes a witty, heartfelt, and practical look at the exhilarating and challenging process of storytelling. At once a memoir, meditation on the artistic process, and advice on craft, Still Writing is an intimate and eloquent comp
Hardcover, 230 pages
Published October 1st 2013 by Atlantic Monthly Press
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Julie Christine
A few weeks ago someone dear to me asked, “Are you still writing? I wondered if you’d decided to get a part-time job.” I’ll admit right now, right here, this crushed me. My first novel is still months away from launch and my second novel is out on submission. I recently finished the first draft of a third and I’ve just returned from a life-altering residency and poetry workshop. Yet in the space of fourteen small words, I felt my entire raison d’etre smashed to smithereens. This didn’t come from ...more
Iris P
Still Writing: The Pleasures and Perils of a Creative Life

A couple of months ago, when I read Goodread's author Julie Christine Johnson wonderful and inspiring review on this book, I had never heard of author Dani Shapiro before. (You can read Julie's review here.)

After reading it, I asked Julie a couple of questions, the first one was:

Do you think this memoir can be enjoyed by someone like me, a person who loves literature but isn’t a writer? The second question was, do you consider writing mor
Sophfronia Scott
Aug 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
I think I picked up this book today because I know I'm on the verge of something. My husband (a teacher) and son (a fifth grader) will both be back to school tomorrow and it occurs to me tomorrow will be, really, the first day of my post-MFA life. (I graduated last month.) I will once again have the house to myself but no packet deadlines and no upcoming residency. I do have a nearly completed novel revision well underway and more projects on my plate. But still I can feel this edginess: will I ...more
David Abrams
Feb 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
In the whole span of my life, I can count the number of books I've re-read on a single hand--ones by Flannery O'Connor, Charles Dickens, Raymond Carver, Agatha Christie. I'm the kind of reader who is always leaning forward, never circling back. There are too many unread books in front of me, from here to the horizon, to "waste time" by retracing my steps through a novel's pages.

I will happily make an exception for Still Writing--not just for the beauty of language, but also for its clarity of in
Julie Ehlers
I didn't like this book at first. I thought the writing was kind of dull and the advice kind of obvious. I'd seen this book likened to Bird by Bird, but I didn't agree with that comparison at all—Bird by Bird is an inspired piece of work, and this seemed more like a contract fulfillment. But what really bothered me about this book was Dani Shapiro's constant references to how awesome her life is. I got tired of hearing about her luxurious chaise longue with its antique blanket, the blazing fire ...more
Mimi Marten
Nov 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: writing
I first heard about Dani Shapiro on the Oprah Winfrey SuperSoul Sunday show. Her quote 'If I'm present, I will miss nothing' stuck with me from that show. She said many other thing that resonated with me. She spoke my language.
This book came to me as a Christmas present. I read it in small doses, like digesting in a slow motion. I wrote down many quotes to cherish Dani Shapiro 's wisdom.

She is very honest and raw, sharing her personal triumphs and struggles. As Hemingway said...'Writing at it's
Jan 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I've read a fair amount of books on writing.
Some are beautiful.
Some are inspiring.
Some are mystical.
Some are frustrating.
I will say that Dani Shapiro manages to take the reality and the mundane of the life and calling of a writer, and infuse it with beauty, empathy, humor and encouragement.
I wish she was my neighbor ... so that we might on occasion catch a glimpse of one another, in rumpled pajamas, shuffling past the window, cup of tea in hand, and wave.
The silent affirmation and simultaneo
Susan Albert
Sep 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, about-writing
I enjoyed (very much!) this inspiring collection of vignettes on writing, storytelling, and the challenges of a creative life. Practice and discipline are the basic principles of her craft. Each polished little piece is a prime example of the short personal essay. Much to learn from here; she has much to teach.
Heather Truett
Aug 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Last week, I had the pleasure of reading an advance copy of Still Writing by Dani Shapiro. I love a good book about writing, especially when I like the writer. I read a novel by Dani years ago and it was very good. I just shipped off a set of rewrites to my agent and, while I wait for him to read, I figured it was a good time to refresh my writer-spirit.

I adored this book. Some writing books are too instructive and some are pretty out there, but this was a good balance of memoir (Dani has led a
Jan 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I gulped this book down quickly, enjoying its loose-knit, episodic construction and Dani Shapiro's gentle yet pointed insights, and now I need to read it again more slowly. This is not a how-to book or even a book of advice, really, but an account of the shaping of one writer's sensibility and habits, conveyed in a fashion that allows the reader to see certain universals within them. A confession: I really can never get enough of accomplished writers talking of the self-doubt and frustration and ...more

In Dani Shapiro's book Still writing: The Perils and Pleasures of Creative Life, we get a window into her life as a writer. I enjoyed reading about her writing process, her thoughts and fears, and her way of overcoming the inner critic. People who like this book may also like Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott.
Oct 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2013
Possibly my new favorite book about writing.
Lisa Montanaro
Oh this book! This inspirational, practical, beautiful book. I took months to read it, making sure that I savored every word, highlighted sections, thought about it, and even took notes. I will probably go back to this book over and over. It is essentially a combination of writing advice and memoir. It is so beautifully interwoven that it is hard to tell where one begins and the other ends. I sometimes would just sit and read sentences over and over. I absolutely love Shapiro’s writing style. I ...more
Nov 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: writing-books
On Writing by Stephen King and Bird By Bird by Anne Lamott are my favorite writing books. Ever. The advice + stories are like nectar, and I love returning to them for insight on almost anything. I've often said writing is a metaphor for living a good life, and that is precisely how Shapiro swan dives into her memoir on the creative life. I devoured her wisdom. Soaked up her stories. And marveled at her execution. All of it stunning + brilliant. After reading only a few words, I knew her book was ...more
Nancy Freund
May 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Five stars, five MILLION stars. I knew if I tried to write a review, I'd run out of space, so I YouTubed it. Hopefully the link will work here, but in case not, you can see me wax lyrical on it by searchign YouTube under Nancy Freund and Still Writing and Dani Shapiro. That ought to take you right to it. But if you are a writer of any kind, novice to novelist, or non-fictionist, or any creative type whatsoever, seriously -- treat yourself to this gorgeous little book. It's outstanding.
Sharon Bright
Jul 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Very inspiring book if you have any interest in the writing process. Reads like a novel as the author takes you through her personal life and journey of becoming a writer. She is also very realistic about the sacrifices and discipline needed to write a book, but ultimately leaves you feeling that to create is the most rewarding experience you can do for yourself. I may be convinced, now.
Angela Risner
Oct 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
To be honest, I had never heard of Dani Shapiro before this book. I only found it through a post on Facebook that mentioned it. I will definitely be looking at the rest of her titles.

For me, this book serves as a reminder that despite the push toward science and mathematics in our schools today, creative endeavors in writing, art, etc. are still worthy. Not to say that those who love science or math aren't creative - they are. I remember speaking with a computer programmer once and he told me th
Jodi Sh.
Mar 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir, non-fiction, craft
Dani Shapiro has written a book for writers. Not about writers, although it is, but for writers, and especially for those who are not lucky enough to have an MFA cohort, or a writing group, or a mentor, or some sort of active writing community. And those of us who do. Because even when you have all the community in the world, writing is a solitary pursuit. "Still Writing," divided into small, reasonably sized chunks that can easily be read on a single subway ride--acts as a companion, reminding ...more
This is the first book I've read of Dani Shapiro's and it won't be the last. This is a beautiful book that will have a place beside Natalie Goldberg's Writing Down The Bones on my inspiration shelf. It's very different to Bones, in that it's less of a practical "let's get you writing" book and more a meditation on the whole business of being a writer, the craft, the mindset, how you interact with the world. I felt like a warm friendly arm was wrapped around me while reading it, as Shapiro reassu ...more
This is one of the best books I've ever read about writing, bar none. Much better than some much more famous books on writing that are touted at every writing class or seminar. If you want to write, or you want to write better, read this book. I read the Kindle book but I have ordered a paperback copy and plan to go back through it, highlighting and taking notes. Yes, I know you can do those things on Kindle but I'm old-fashioned. If a book is important to me, I want to hold it in my hand, I wan ...more
May 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: All Writer's
I loved this book.

Written in a conversational tone, this book is not so much about the craft of writing, but one writer's thought's and feelings about the writing life; what it takes, and what it gives back. Not only is this book full of inspiration, it made me feel connected to a wider community of writer's by showing we all share the same fears and doubts, and the same inexplicable need to write. While reading I was torn between wanting to take my time over it so it wouldn't be over too quickl
May 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I picked this up at my local library knowing absolutely nothing about it or the author, and now I have a new favorite book on writing, surpassing even Stephen King's (for me, anyway!). Shapiro strikes the perfect balance between conveying her own writing experiences, offering compassionate, empathetic encouragement for writers, and sharing bits of her personal story in a way that left this reader with both a sense of camaraderie and an affirmation that an ongoing, satisfying writing life is real ...more
Jul 17, 2015 rated it liked it
Its comforting to know that successful published authors doubt themselves, their work, or their right to write at all. Not comforting to know that the only way to get through it is to keep writing in spite of it all.
Dani Shapiro is brutally honest. Writing is never pretty, not always worthwhile, and often leaves us feeling vulnerable. But writers do it, because they have to.
Nov 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I can't stop reading and rereading this wonder memoir on the writing life. Both practical primer and inspirational guide, Still Writing has earned a place on my shelf of favorite books about writing, alongside Lamott, King, and Dillard. Dani Shapiro has done it again. ...more
Julie Timmer
Jan 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I *loved* this book. I expect I will read this once/year, starting now. Maybe once/6 months. Highly recommend.
Jun 30, 2018 rated it did not like it
It's readable, but if you've ever read any other books on writing, you will get nothing new from this one. ...more
Oct 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful. Although I am not a writer nor do I have any aspirations to be one, I always thought it would be an interesting life and career. And I will pretty much read (and love) anything Dani Shapiro writes, so even though I debated skipping this one, I am so glad I didn't. For aspiring writers, it should be required reading. I learned so much about the actual day-to-day life a writer might have. The need for quiet, for a special place to write, for rituals, for tuning out the world (especially ...more
Nov 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
I spent about two years reading this book, dog-earing the pages, cracking the spine, making notes. This small little book, part memoir, part cheerleader, part writing guide, will take a coveted place on my shelf where I keep books on writing that really speak to me (Stephen King, Natalie Goldberg). While I've read most of Shapiro's memoirs and have read and heard so many interviews with her, many of her stories were not new to me; but the writing part was. I love books where I feel like I'm not ...more
Sheila Callahan
Aug 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018-reads
I spent this summer reading all four of Dani Shapiro's outstanding memoirs. This one I wish to own, as it promises to serve as perennial inspiration for this writer. In my opinion, Still Writing belongs right alongside the other writing bibles such as The Elements of Style. Thank you for this treasure, Dani Shapiro. ...more
Sarah Butterfield
Jan 04, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I'm so glad I stumbled upon this book! There was a lot of hard-won wisdom here, full of gems. If you're looking for encouragement and inspiration for a writing life well-lived, you'll want to pick this up! ...more
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Still Writing Giveaway TODAY! 1 13 Aug 31, 2014 07:49AM  

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Dani Shapiro is the bestselling author of the memoirs Hourglass, Still Writing, Devotion, and Slow Motion, and five novels including Black & White and Family History. She lives with her family in LItchfield County, Connecticut. Her latest memoir, Inheritance, will be published by Knopf in January, 2019.

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“Everything you need to know about life can be learned from a genuine and ongoing attempt to write” 27 likes
“Still writing?" I usually nod and smile, then quickly change the subject. But here is what I would like to put down my fork and say: Yes, yes, I am. I will write until the day I die, or until I am robbed of my capacity to reason. Even if my fingers were to clench and wither, even if I were to grow deaf or blind, even if I were unable to move a muscle in my body save for the blink of one eye, I would still write. Writing saved my life. Writing has been my window -- flung wide open to this magnificent, chaotic existence -- my way of interpreting everything within my grasp. Writing has extended that grasp by pushing me beyond comfort, beyond safety, past my self-perceived limits. It has softened my heart and hardened my intellect. It has been a privilege. It has whipped my ass. It has burned into me a valuable clarity. It has made me think about suffering, randomness, good will, luck, memory responsibility, and kindness, on a daily basis -- whether I feel like it or not. It has insisted that I grow up. That I evolve. It has pushed me to get better, to be better. It is my disease and my cure. It has allowed me not only to withstand the losses in my life but to alter those losses -- to chip away at my own bewilderment until I find the pattern in it. Once in a great while, I look up at the sky and think that, if my father were alive, maybe he would be proud of me. That if my mother were alive, I might have come up with the words to make her understand. That I am changing what I can. I am reaching a hand out to the dead and to the living and the not yet born. So yes. Yes. Still writing.” 18 likes
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