A Writer's Book of Days:
A Spirited Companion & Lively Muse for the Writing Life

by Judy Reeves

New World Library, 2010. ISBN 978-1-577-31936-8.
Reviewed by Mary Ann Moore
Posted on 01/06/2011

Nonfiction: Creative Life

Many years ago someone in a creative writing class I was teaching loaned me Judy Reeves' first edition of A Writer's Book of Days (published in 1999). I found each chapter to be enticing, intriguing and affirming to the writing life. The new edition is full of the same stimulating articles with new writing prompts for every day of the year. One of the changes in the new edition was replacing the term "floppy disk" with "flash drive," but I'm so glad the article, "Why Write By Hand," is still included. Writing is a physical act and slows down the thought process.

You can't help but be encouraged by this book, with its wondrous cover image of a flying book with pages like wings. For each month of the year, Reeves includes a guideline, articles on "The Writing Life" and "Beyond Practice," plus prompts for each day. Her approach is a holistic one, including the physical, emotional and spiritual. I appreciate her article "Honor Yourself as a Writer." The pointers begin with calling yourself "writer" whether you earn your living that way or not. Other suggestions on the list: make a space for your writing and "go there joyfully"; getdependable equipment; schedule time with other writers; and submit material for publication. Celebrating the completion of work or other significant markers and accepting compliments gracefully are among the list of suggestions.

The facts about well-known writers are interesting and entertaining and they remind writers that we are part of a rich legacy. Virginia Woolf stood to write apparently, Truman Capote lay down, D. H. Lawrence wrote in the nude, Amy Lowell smoked cigars, and Brenda Ueland took long walks. Living writers whom we have come to know and love are included too, such as Isabel Allende who writes alone in a room for ten or twelve hours a day.

Whatever page you open to in A Writer's Book of Days, you'll find something to inspire. I'm also inspired by Judy Reeves, who has been part of a Brown Bag Group, a writing practice group that has been meeting for seventeen years. Writers, even those with "day jobs" come on their lunch hour to write in response to a prompt pulled from a cigar box. They then read aloud what they've written. Reeves says she's "still delighted by the surprises that come from the freewheeling, free-falling intensity of timed, focused writing to a prompt."

There are many ways to approach writing. Judy Reeves seems to have captured most of them with enthusiasm and a real honoring of the writing life.

Judy Reeves teaches writing and leads creativity workshops. She is the author of The Writer's Retreat Kit and Writing Alone, Writing Together; the editor of the Brown Bag Anthology; and a co-founder of San Diego Writers, Ink, a non-profit literary arts organization. Visit her website.

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