The Creative Compass [Book Review]

Subtitled “writing your way from inspiration to publication” I found The Creative Compass by father-daughter authors Dan Millman and Sierra Prasada took me on quite the journey. A good kind of journey, but a long one.

The Creative Compass

The Creative Compass

They break the writing process (and the book) into five stages called dream, draft, develop, refine and share.

I’m just going to lay it out there. The first part was difficult for me to get into. A lot of talking about writing but it didn’t feel practical. It was a romantic kind of ethereal way of looking at the craft.

And so I put it aside

Because hear me out. I work as a full-time writer. Not the author kind, but the write-what-other-people-tell-me-to kind. And I don’t have TIME to dream…I’m constantly ON DEADLINE.

So maybe I’m jealous.

Maybe I can’t relate.


My story ideas don’t come to me as gentle whispers delivered upon bird’s wings. My story ideas come from blood, sweat, and tears. Hard work. Lots of reading and research and LOTS of false starts. Then one morning I wake up…and there it is. Just at the very moment I think all hope is lost. There it is.

So I put the Creative Compass aside

A few weeks (was it months?) later I wasn’t so upset with writers who still have whimsy and I picked up where I left off.

And I. Got. Into it.

The third and fourth sections (develop and refine) became PRACTICAL and there was a refreshing absence of sugar coating. Thank you!

This book could be for the writer who isn’t exactly sure HOW to write a book. Yes, it’s that practical. It could also be for the writer who has an idealistic outlook on what writing and publishing will be like. Kind of a reality check without being a jerk about it.

When it comes to writing, we can develop our skills and boost our talent through thoughtful practice…. By continuing to write, we build stamina and patience, eventually exceeding our own standards to the extend that we can raise them. (117)

By the “share” section I was all in. I could now see this book directly impacting my writing life. (Can you believe it!?) And then I began putting it all together. Because every idea starts with passion, meets with discouragement and must be battled with persistence. When writing the most important thing is to find a way to keep going despite the hard work, stress, lack of confidence and insecurity.

dream, draft, develop, refine, share

I spent a lot of time in the last third of the book. I underlined, wrote notes, even wrote “Amen!” beside especially good quotes (“If a sentence expresses an essential idea, advances plot, reveals character, or conveys relevant sensory detail that contributes to emotional effect or atmosphere then it’s probably worth keeping…. If not—snip, snip” Amen! [175]).

I have so much written in the margins I don’t know how to lay it out here. Stuff about the golden thread, something about Thesus in the labyrinth, how much I love the refine stage, smiley faces, and how I wished I could make an infographic about the nine steps of sales.

See what I mean?

The Creative Compass: Writing Your Way from Inspiration to Publication is available from the usual retailers, Amazon, Barns and Noble, and the book’s publisher New World Library.

Other book reviews

I found The Creative Compass by father-daughter authors Dan Millman and Sierra Prasada took me on quite the journey. A good kind of journey, but a long one.

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