Monday, 29 April 2013

Writing Without a Parachute by Barbara Turner-Vesselago


I’m someone who would not be up for jumping from a plane. I was worried that Barbara Turner-Vesselago’s book, Writing Without a Parachute’would give me vertigo, especially with the subtitle The Art of Freefall. But this kind of writing, I discovered as I read, is something I already encourage in my students, and practice myself. ‘Falling into writing’ is something that can benefit every writer. There is no creativity in being tightly held and cautious, especially in the first draft. 

I was slightly relieved, though, to find that there is a safety net within the book. It’s organized into Five Precepts, which guide you; Writing what Comes Up; Not Changing Anything; Specific, Sensual Detail, Following the Energy and Waiting Ten Years. These are pieces of valuable advice which offer a route through the book and allow the words to flow. Each chapter concludes with a set of exercises to get you writing – in themselves they make the book invaluable. 

Vesselago’s writing is ‘mindful’, her freefall writing is ‘with intention’ at all times. I loved her quote...there are no memory police. It’s so easy to get bogged down with ‘head stuff’, such as ‘should I write this…what would my mother say?’ 

Despite the possibility of plummeting to earth, the book offers swathes of practical advice. First up – find a writing partner. I’ve just moved house and had to leave my wonderful writing partner behind; although we still support each other by phone and email. The chapter on A Poet’s Way of Mind is something I feel crucial to good writing, and there are excellent sections on Show, don’t Tell and Dialogue.

Although this might be a good addition to any writers bookcase, I think it’s a particularly necessary read for writers who are just beginning seriously to write, and writers who have got themselves in some sort of writing jam. I got into one of those almost ten years ago now; my solution was to do an MA. It cost me thousands. This book is a lot cheaper and might just do the trick. If in doubt, jump from the plane and fly!

Go to 

to order the book.

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