Book Review: The Creative Compass

By Midge Raymond,

  Filed under: On Publishing, The Writing Life

The Creative Compass: Writing Your Way from Inspiration to Publication, by Dan Millman and Sierra Prasada, is a helpful guide for beginning writers that focuses on five stages of creativity.

Dan Millman, well known for his book Way of the Peaceful Warrior, has teamed up with his daughter, journalist Sierra Prasada, for this new book on writing, creativity, and publication. They include their personal journeys as well as tips and guidelines for authors beginning their own journeys.


The first stage, Dream, is about defining one’s story — finding ideas that stick and going from there to defining character, finding plots, considering setting. I especially like the concept of “dreaming in dialogue,” which encourages the writer and his/her alter ego to have a role-play type conversation that helps in discovering characters’ motives, plot twists, etc.

The Draft section is about telling one’s story, from beginning to end, and this section covers topics from using the senses to doing research. In the Develop section, the authors raise the question of hard work versus talent, revision (and reinvention), and the importance of never giving up.

The Refine stage covers sentence-level editing, from trimming to punctuation, and the Share section addresses how to publish and market your work, as well as how to handle rejection (there are some wonderfully inspiring rejection stories here!). One thing I think will be particularly helpful to new writers is the authors’ notion of Nine Sales — that is, the myriad ways in which all writers must sell their books, from selling it to themselves, to their literary agents, and to their editors, all the way to their sales reps and their readers.

Throughout the book, Millman and Prasada remind us to go back to story whenever we’re stuck — to ask the important questions, such as “What’s the story about?” and “Who’s our audience?” For those writers who are new to workshopping or seeking/giving feedback, the book includes what questions to ask your prospective readers in order to get the most constructive feedback possible.

The Creative Compass features a helpful FAQ index near the beginning of the book, referencing such immediate questions as how to find one’s voice as an author, when to ask for feedback, and how journaling may be useful. Inspiring quotes by authors pepper all pages of the book, and a section at the end devotes five pages to quotations. The Creative Compass is an inspiring guide for anyone just beginning to explore their creative selves through writing, as well as those who are just beginning to get a sense of the stories they want to tell.

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