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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Book Review: Take Ten

Book Review by Linda Johnson

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Take Ten for Writers, Bonnie Neubauer, 2009, Writer’s Digest Books, paperback, 215 pgs, writing instruction, 13-1211100954321

To purchase online, visit: The WriteShop

Bonnie Neubauer wrote this book to help writers create forward motion and avoid writer’s block. She offers the idea of inertia—that an object in motion will continue in motion until it meets some opposing force. Her idea is “…as long as you keep the pen moving, word by word, sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph, you will maintain momentum.” (pg 1) Then she proceeds to offer unique ways to do just this.

I fell in love with this book before I had ever seen an actual copy of it. I saw a review and advertisement on the internet and thought, “I have to own this book!” I couldn’t wait until I had time to make a 40-mile trip to buy it. I asked my 19-year-old granddaughter to pick it up at her nearby bookstore and bring the book when she came to see me on Monday.

She bought the book. While it was still at her house, my 13-year-old granddaughter called and said, “I hope you don’t mind, Grandma. I looked at your new book, and I wrote a story from one of the prompts!”

Mind? I was ecstatic! If this book could entice someone to write, just from a quick perusal of the book, it was going to be perfect for my journaling group and me.

I have not been disappointed. Every time I use the book at group, all the members enjoy writing to the prompts.

We like the way the book is constructed. Each prompt has two pages. Page 1 is a set up. We skim through the pages looking for one prompt that catches our interest. Then we must pick a number from one to ten. That is because page 2 is a list of ten variables: words, phrases or ideas that must be used in the piece of writing. We then write the variables at the top of the page and write for at least ten minutes. The combination of choice and arbitrary instruction seems to fill our writing needs and give us the nudge to get started.

You can repeat this as desired. With a possible combination of 1000 exercises (100 prompts and 10 variables per prompt), this book can be used forever. I am sure that by the time a writer has written 1000 different exercises, he or she could repeat the earlier prompts and come up with something entirely new.

Neubauer believes that “learning is always fun and play is educational.” The book features conversational language with colorful artwork. It is fun to read. It inspires people to write. Neubauer invites the writer to play along with her. This shuts off the censor because we are just playing. The words flow.

So, grab your pen and join us! It’s time to Take Ten!

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