Fierce on the Page:
Become the Writer You Were Meant to be
and Succeed on Your Own Terms

by Sage Cohen



Writer's Digest Books, 2016. ISBN 978-1-599-63993-2.
Reviewed by Mary Ann Moore
Posted on 10/03/2016

Nonfiction: Creative Life

I enjoyed everything about this book: the paper it's printed on, the design by Alexis Estoye and most of all the words by Sage Cohen. From the Introduction, "Unleashing the Fierce Writer Within," to the final chapter, "From Impossible to Inevitable," there is inspiration to access your own strengths and "define success on your own terms."

"You Are Your Own Best Expert," Cohen advises in chapter one. She offers wisdom from her own experience of committing to showing up and "writing down what wants to come through."

Many of the 75 chapters begin with a quote such as this one by the poet Hafiz: "Routines are human nature, why not create some that will mint gold?"

At the end of most chapters is a section entitled "Be Fierce" which encapsulates the chapter's ideas and offers further tips. For instance: "Choose a writing buddy with a specific, shared goal or purpose, and commit to a half hour once a week, or even once a month, when the two of you specifically address this single issue together."

Cohen has a "writing promotion buddy" and I thought, what a great idea! Her buddy sent publishing leads to Cohen for her poetry. Cohen found that her buddy's energy and enthusiasm invigorated her own. They talk every week or two to celebrate successes, share tips, and affirm one another.

In "Get Happy First," Cohen realized when seeing a gaggle of geese lifting off "in their symmetry of belonging," that she could be happy without the need for particular things to happen.

"There were no contingencies that I could think of to happiness." That changed everything for her regarding thinking in terms of happiness not being dependent on success but "success could very well be dependent on your happiness."

Several chapters contain pithy pointers such as the chapter entitled: "How Much the Writing Life Can Hold." One of the tips is: "A Writing Practice is a Life Practice" in which Cohen writes: "In my own literary cosmology, it seems to me that we restore ourselves and our world by arranging the fragments of experience, memory, invention, and emotion into a mosaic of meaning through which we transcend the parts and move into unexpected wholeness."

As a divorced mother to a young son, Cohen refers to her new state and all she juggles during a typical day. Besides mothering, she is a writer, an organizer of literary events, and has her own communications business. If anyone knows how to come up a routine that includes her own writing, she does!

Cohen has included an essay, previously published, in which she writes about her divorce and the plans she made to write a blog for other parents who are finding their way "into new incarnations of self and family." As she writes about her own family: "All of us have been stretched in new directions." It's an honest and beautiful essay about finding one's way.

"Is your writing identity expansive enough to include all of you?" Cohen asks. That question resonates with me as does the idea of writing my own manifesto.

Cohen includes her own manifesto about her own writing and teaching identity. Fulfilling goals, making discoveries and expanding a sense of possibility are terms she has used for her students as well as for herself. The manifesto is a distillation of what she believes about writing and what she values. It seems to really sum up what it means to be "fierce on the page."

There's so much more to share but best you get the book and be inspired. Reading a chapter of Fierce on the Page before beginning to write would definitely ignite your writing practice. And it would give you a positive boost for living life fully as well.


Sage Cohen is the author of The Productive Writer, and Writing the Life Poetic, both from Writer's Digest Books, and the poetry collection Like the Heart: The World from Queen of Wands Press. She is a graduate of Brown University and the Creative Writing Program at New York University. Cohen lives in Portland, Oregon with her young son and a menagerie of animals. Visit her website.

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