Dancing on the Head of a Pin: The Practice of a Writing Life by Robert Benson

According to Robert Benson, 'the blank pages are always the most terrifying ones'. This book helps budding writers overcome their fears, and provides useful suggestions and tips.  Lyrically written and full of anecdotes and lovely quotes, the book meanders through such important topics as the importance of solitude, listening for the muse and collecting stuff that moves you.  Benson also writes about imagining your audience.

Benson describes his writing process, and includes amusing anecdotes about how he avoided writing and how any writer worth his or her salt can think of numerous other things to do!  Helpfully, he states how he overcame this, and finally settled down to the discipline of writing a certain amount of words per day.  He also tells readers about his three hats - the hats that he wears in his mind for writing, editing and revising.  I liked this part of the book the best.

I also liked reading about the books that assisted Benson on his path to becoming a writer.  These include books by Annie Dillard and Doris Grumbach. I am not sure whether I agree that a writer shouldn't waste his time by reading 'rubbish'. Light holiday-reading certainly relieves stress, and it can be well-written.  However, Benson probably wouldn't approve of it!


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