Thursday, October 19, 2006

Muse Review: The Playful Way to Serious Writing by Roberta Allen

It is about time that I get this updated. Let's start out with a Muse Review:

The Playful Way to Serious Writing by Roberta Allen; Houghton Mifflin; 2002 (Paperback) 200 pages

Roberta Allen’s book is short, (I read it in about an hour.) but has some good information. Using that quirky style often used by several of writing prompt books such as Monica Wood’s The Pocket Muse, and A Writers Book of Matches compiled by the staff of Fresh Boiled Peanuts, Allen’s title mixes in photos, an unusual book size and a font designed to look like handwriting to provide some good information along with exercises designed to crack your creative side wide-open.

She uses what she calls the “Energy Method” which is similar to Natalie Goldberg’s “Keep your hand moving,” or my own “Flash writing” process. It involves using timed writing sessions and writing fast to avoid your inner critic and just get something down on the page.I hate books that have you fill-in-the-blanks in order to round out the content provided by the author. I see this as a cop-out, but at least Ms. Allen balances these fill-in-the-blanks with good ideas and examples of her own. She encourages you to list your fears, the fears you have overcome, realizations, “before and after” statements, and much more.

In short, The Playful Way to Serious Writing does a great job giving you some starting points for writing if you are totally lost and have no idea what to do next. Yet, it isn’t as good as some of the other similar books out on the market. At only 200 pages the book feels more like 50 or 75 pages after you consider the smaller footprint of the book, the large handwriting-like font, and the previously mentioned fill-in-the-blank pages. At a cover price of $14.00, I think that there are many other similar writing prompt books out on the market that are a better value for your money. But if you need some some fresh ideas or a quick spark, don’t hesitate to borrow this one from the library or simply flip through it in a bookstore. That should be enough time to get value out of the book.

Rating: ** (Borrow It from the Library)

About Ratings: ***** -- Well Worth it at Full Retail Price; **** — Buy on Sale/Discounted; *** — Buy Used; ** — Borrow It from the Library; * — Waste of a Good Tree

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