Dancing on the Head of a Pen: The Practice of a Writing Life  -     By: Robert Benson
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Dancing on the Head of a Pen: The Practice of a Writing Life

WaterBrook / 2014 / Hardcover

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Product Description

A compelling combination of advice and inspiration, Dancing on the Head of a Pen is a winsome guide for writers on practicing the art and life of writing. Digging deeply into his own writing habits, failures, and successes, Robert Benson helps you choose the ideal audience for your work, commit to it, and overcome the hurdles that inevitably confront both aspiring artists and accomplished professionals.

Product Information

Format: Hardcover
Number of Pages: 192
Vendor: WaterBrook
Publication Date: 2014
Dimensions: 7.25 X 5.00 (inches)
ISBN: 1400074355
ISBN-13: 9781400074358

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Publisher's Description

In this masterful blend of the practical and the spiritual, Robert Benson invites you into the work and rewards of a writer’s life. More than a primer on effective writing, Dancing on the Head of a Pen is a winsome guide to the place in the heart where the life of the spirit meets the life of art.
 
"Dancing on the Head of a Pen is a pure delight to read. Encouraging, honest, practical, and important. I needed this book."
—Melody Carlson, author of more 200 books including Finding Alice 
 
"With deceptive simplicity and an almost seductive easiness in his voice, Benson lays open before us the filigreed mystique of the writing life in all its beauty, its unmitigated angst, and its inescapable vocation."
—Phyllis Tickle, author of numerous books including The Divine Hours
 
"Robert Benson’s Dancing on the Head of a Pen is a gem. It is wise, witty, and inspiring—a trifecta seldom achieved by a book on the writing life."
—James Scott Bell, bestselling author of Plot & Structure
 

After some forty years and nearly twenty books, I have learned I do not know about a lot of things, but I do know how to write a book. Some of these things are habits stolen from other writers, writers far better than I am. Some are disciplines I stumbled upon to feed both the caliber of the writing and the work of being a writer. Some of them are practices I discovered on my own after years of dancing on the head of a pen.
Robert Benson
 
The Life of the Spirit Meets the Life of Art
 
A compelling combination of advice and inspiration, Dancing on the Head of a Pen will challenge and encourage writers, artists, musicians, painters—anyone drawn to a life of artistic expression.
 
Digging deeply into his own writing habits, failures, and successes, Robert Benson helps you choose the ideal audience for your work, commit to it, and overcome the hurdles that inevitably confront both aspiring artists and accomplished professionals.
Extending beyond the craft of writing, this gentle book moves into a rich discussion on the relationship between spirituality and art. Including wisdom from revered writers past and present, Dancing on the Head of a Pen is a beautiful mosaic of inspiration, practical help, and a glimpse into the disciplines that shape one writer’s life.

Author Bio

Robert Benson is the author of numerous books, including The Echo Within, Digging In, and Home by Another Way. A retreat leader, Benson writes and speaks often on the life of prayer and contemplation, the practice of faith and spirituality, and the art and craft of writing. He is a graduate of and an adjunct faculty member for the Academy for Spiritual Formation, a program of The Upper Room. He is married to the literary agent Sara Fortenberry. Benson lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and he dances on the head of a pen every day no matter where he happens to be.

Editorial Reviews

Praise for Dancing on the Head of a Pen

"Robert Benson’s Dancing on the Head of a Pen is a gem. It is wise, witty, and inspiring—a trifecta seldom achieved by a book on the writing life."
—James Scott Bell, best-selling author of Plot & Structure

"With deceptive simplicity and a kind of almost-seductive easiness in his voice, Robert Benson lays open before us the filigreed mystique of the writing life in all its beauty, its unmitigated angst, and its inescapable vocation. This one is a classic."
—Phyllis Tickle, author of The Divine Hours

"I needed this book. And I need to read it again—and probably again. Thank goodness, it’s a pure delight to read. Encouraging, honest, practical, and important. If you’re a writer—or have any aspirations to become one—Robert Benson’s words will resonate deeply within you. I will highly recommend this to all my writer friends and even the writer friends I haven’t yet met."
—Melody Carlson, author of more than 200 books, including Finding Alice and Diary of a Teenage Girl series

"There is little more enjoyable for a writer than to read about the craft, especially when the book is fashioned with the grace and style of Robert Benson’s prose. You don’t even have to be a writer to savor this delicacy. Just do yourself a favor and settle in for a treat that goes down like dessert but is also full of nutrition. I read everything I can find on writing, and I loved this."
—Jerry B. Jenkins, novelist and biographer

"I love reading and spending time with what Robert Benson writes. I think it is because his words and God’s Spirit meet and dance on each page. In this book Benson generously shares how writing becomes art. Dancing on the Head of a Pen is direction for struggling writers and balm for the bruised writer’s heart."
—Sharon Ewell Foster, author of the Christy Award–winner Passing by Samaria and Shaara Prize–winner The Resurrection of Nat Turner

Product Reviews

4.8 Stars Out Of 5
4.8 out of 5
(4)
(1)
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Quality:
4.8 out Of 5
(4.8 out of 5)
Value:
4.6 out Of 5
(4.6 out of 5)
Meets Expectations:
4.6 out Of 5
(4.6 out of 5)
80%
of customers would recommend this product to a friend.
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Displaying items 1-5 of 5
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  1. Age: 18-24
    Gender: female
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    Aspiring Writers, Take a Look
    September 24, 2014
    Kayla
    Age: 18-24
    Gender: female
    Quality: 5
    Value: 4
    Meets Expectations: 5
    The subtitle actually caught my attention. "The Practice of a Writing Life" seems to fit well with all I am discovering about my "inner writer" and desire to process life and lessons with words. The book was an excellent fit, indeed.

    If you are not sure whether or not your can write a book, this one will not answer the question.

    You will have to write a book before you will know. (p. 13)

    I have read some "writer tips" from Jeff Goins and even listened in on a webinar he hosted about creating a daily writing habit. Some of me expected this to be a similar straightforward, lecture style book about how to write daily as well. Boy, was I wrong! Benson's style waxes poetic. He paints a picture rather than drawing bullet points on a chalkboard. He readily admits that each writer approaches writing differently. Some need background music or the hubbub of a coffee shop, others (like himself) need absolute stillness. Yet he still delineates key things that aspiring writers should consider:

    Writing 600 words a day

    Selecting your audience

    Wearing different "hats" when you approach your writing

    Working slowly more often than not

    Keeping a variety of writing projects going (journal, book, letters, etc)

    Taking caution when discussing your planned writing before you've done much/any

    The book itself is compact, and the pages are not filled to the margins. An average 15 page chapter took only about 15 minutes to read. But it's one of those "fast" reads that I forced myself to slow down and digest, usually reading just one chapter a day.

    For those who say to themselves, like I so often do, "I /think/ I am a writer," this book is an encouraging read. Writing need not be difficult; most of the time, you need to just do it. 5 stars!

    I received this book for free via WaterBrook Multnomah for this review. The perspectives (with the exception of direct quote) above are entirely mine.
  2. 5 Stars Out Of 5
    Dancing on the Head of a Pen
    September 12, 2014
    Heather @ My Overflowing Cup
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    I had the privilege this week of reading Robert Benson's short, yet beautifully penned book Dancing on the Head of a Pen: The Practice of a Writing Life.

    In a quest to answer the often asked question "Can you tell me how to write a book?", he has written an almost poetic manual for the writer who attempts to do just that. In a style that is a joy to read, yet easy to understand, Mr. Benson takes the reader on a personal, yet helpful, journey in his art of putting pen to paper.

    Giving due credit to his favorite authors, he shares with his readers the books that have helped influence and shape his writing style. He speaks of acclaimed writers who encourage him in his endeavor to write meaningful words. He teaches the reader the value of reading those who have come before us.

    Mr. Benson shares how to begin and end a book. In between, he shares his tried-and-true, tips on being a disciplined and committed writer.

    I highly recommend this book for any writer regardless of how long one has been writing. It is a quick, but helpful read that both beginning and experienced writers can glean wisdom from.

    Here are some of my favorite quotes:

    And I learned the value of slow. I learned not to chase the words but to listen for them.

    Good writing takes time.

    Hurry is not a proper posture for a writer.

    Determined is the proper posture for a writer.

    A direct relationship exists between the caliber of the writing you read and the caliber of the writing you make.

    "Art is prayer", says Joseph Zinker. "And both need time to grow in the direction of the thing to which they are being drawn."

    For more information, you can visit his website at robertbensonwriter.com.

    FTC Disclaimer: I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.
  3. United States
    Age: 18-24
    Gender: female
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    When Writing is Right
    September 6, 2014
    Victoria
    United States
    Age: 18-24
    Gender: female
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    This is the perfect book for writers.

    Benson knows the struggle of writing, but he also knows the joy it brings. In this book which is part writing memoir and part how to, you will find yourself inspired to go to your writing place and put some words down onto paper. Be ready to listen to the wisdom that Benson brings to the table. He is setting out to help you get your words out there, but he makes your responsibility to work at it very clear.

    Grab this book. Make a plan. Write. Edit. Write some more. Put your work into the hands of someone who will give you feedback. And when you find your name in print, remember that Benson led the way!

    *Thank you to Blogging for Books who sent me a review copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
  4. Age: 18-24
    Gender: female
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    Writing- earthy and other-worldly.
    September 6, 2014
    Sufficient in Jesus
    Age: 18-24
    Gender: female
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    "With my elbows on the old table, my chin in my hands, my pencil in my fingers, the lights of the city below and beyond... I fell in love with the craft of writing. I learned not to chase the words but to listen for them."

    ~ Robert Benson, Dancing on the Head of a Pen

    This book is a pleasure to read. Once I got started, I completed my first leisurely reading in a single evening.

    As a lover of stories, I'm fascinated by what goes into telling them and the making of the books that come into my hands.

    This book is replete with quotable lines from Mr. Benson, personal vignettes, and quotes from fellow writers.

    Mr. Benson talks about the craft of writing without ever reducing it to mechanics or formula, and he talks about the business of writing without ever forgetting that word work is "fragile magic at best."

    Mr. Benson is a wanderer when he writes, and not in an aimless or unfocused way. He wanders in a "Don't cheat yourself out of a beautiful dirt road" kind of way. As he points out, the moments you never expected may be exactly what the journey was all about after all.

    I like the bits about the actual way he writes... fountain pen, sketchbook, six hundred words a day, lots of colored markers in the editing.

    He talks about the times you pretend to write a book when you're really planting four new flower beds, and he talks about how writers need to remember the world they live in when they're so deep inside the world in their head.

    He talks about the three hats that writers wear... the Beret, old Gamer, and the Fedora... and how each hat corresponds to the work of the moment. (Passionate artistry, dogged editing, and smooth marketing of the finished book.)

    This book is ultimately a celebration of writing: the thing that lets us tell out stories, the thing that lets us save pieces of ourselves we would otherwise forget, the thing that lets us give ourselves away to dozens of people we may never meet.

    Writing. It is something as down-to-earth as bursitis from typing and as other-worldly as the power of paragraphs that shape our spirits.
  5. Oak Harbor, WA
    Age: 55-65
    Gender: female
    4 Stars Out Of 5
    Musings on being a writer
    August 27, 2014
    bookwomanjoan
    Oak Harbor, WA
    Age: 55-65
    Gender: female
    Quality: 4
    Value: 4
    Meets Expectations: 3
    Benson was asked, when you think you have a story to tell, how do you go about it? Hence this book. He shares how he writes a book. It works for him and maybe it will help you. He offers no guarantees, however.

    Some of the ideas in the book include deciding what to write, making the barest of plans, getting through to the discipline of writing a certain number of words a day, determining specifically to whom you are writing, writing slowly and rewriting, wearing the various hats of a writer, being influenced by other authors, journaling and practice cages, strolling, sharing your work (when and to whom), and knowing when a book is finished.

    This is not a how-to book. Benson gives us musings on the craft, not specific steps nor practical techniques. He often rambles, telling stories of personal experiences, ultimately illustrating a principle about the writing life.

    Benson is a writer. It is who he is, not merely what he does. He shares his writing journey and, although his path may not be the same as yours, I think you'll enjoy the views he describes.

    Food for thought: I know I am finished with a book when I never want to see it again. (159)

    I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of an independent and honest review.
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