Book Report: Writing Books By Eric Maisel

February 16, 2023

I love to read.

I love to write.

I love to read about writing.

One of my favorite writers about writing, as you can see in this stack of five books, is Eric Maisel. I have other favorites, of course. Natalie Goldberg, Anne Lamott, Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew, and more recently, I loved the book, Memoir as Medicine by Nancy Slonim Aronie. And you will see a collection of Julia Cameron books on my writing bookshelf, too.

There is something about Maisel’s books, however, that resonate with me, and I make it a point to re-read at least one of his books each year. Most often the EM book of choice is A Writer’s Paris, A Guided Journey for the Creative Soul. (2005). The book, small, easy to hold, the size of a small journal or travel guide, is a call to follow your fantasy image of yourself as a writer and where better to do that, but Paris?

What might it mean to your creative life if you included, as part of your education as a writer, a risky experience like running off to Paris to write? Something on that order may be needed to unlock the trunk and let out those thousand poems, those hundred short stories, that full shelf of novels or narrative nonfiction.

pp. 2-3

I have been to Paris just once and even sat in a cafe and wrote in my journal, but I don’t have plans to go to Paris for a writing retreat. If I did, I would take this book, which hovers between fantasy and reality, for it has practical hints for living in Paris, but also addresses ways each of us wannabe writers can live that life now. Here and now.

I write in a garret. Yes, it is in St Paul, Minnesota, USA, but somedays it is easy to think of it as a French garret in some centuries old building. I imagine walking down several flights of smooth stone stairs and crossing the street to a boulangerie, greeting the baker and buying the day’s ration of bread and then returning, walking back up those same smooth stone stairs, flight after flight, to my garret. My view today, however, is not of Parisian rooftops, but instead our garage roof and an occasional bird sitting on the electrical wire. My Paris. My here and now.

I begin to write.

And in the summer I write in a secluded small garden I call “Paris.” I sit at a bistro table and write. I can see neighbors walking by, but it is rare I am noticed. True, this little garden is not beyond the French doors of a Paris apartment, but I can pretend, and sometimes I do.

This little book reminds me to “access the Paris already inside of you. There is a Paris-of-the-mind that resides in each of us…It is available to you right now.” p. 191

I may not have gone to Paris to write, but many years ago I did go to Bainbridge Island, Washington to write, and I have given myself solo writing retreats in a cabin on one of Minnesota’s lakes, as well as writing retreats led by other writers. I have found ways to create Paris for myself, including in the garret.

Recently, I pulled Maisel’s A Writer’s Space, Make Room to Dream, to Work, to Write off my bookshelf, and the book opened to this:

The writing life is defined by the succession of choices you make, primary among them whether or not you will write.

p. 54

I have been lucky over the years, no matter where we lived, to have a room of my own, but that is only part of the issue. The other aspect is creating time to write and devoting energy to do that. I looked at my calendar recently and realized that with one small change I could create Writing Wednesdays. Yesterday was my third Writing Wednesday, and I devoted the day to working on an essay about walking labyrinths.

I write on other days of the week–my twice-weekly blog posts, for example, and most mornings I write in my journal as part of my daily devotion and meditation routine, but setting apart a day to work on something that has been percolating or been in process, but set aside honors myself as a writer. How good this decision feels.

An Invitation

What do you need to make room for in your life? I would love to know.

NOTE: Eric Maisel is a psychotherapist, teacher, coach who focuses on helping creative and performing artists meet their emotional and practical challenges, and his list of books is long.

4 thoughts on “Book Report: Writing Books By Eric Maisel

  1. How have I not heard of Eric Maisel? I will definitely be looking into his books. I have so many interests, it’s hard to keep up with everything I want to do! I write in three different journals every day; I love to read; I try to work in my art journal several times a week; I take yoga classes and do yoga and PT at home; I’m taking up learning how to draw; I love to cook and do so often; I enjoy gardening in the summer…and on and on! Not to mention, keeping up with all the homekeeping, seeing friends and family, errands, doctor appts…life! 😉


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