Dorothea Brande’s 12 Disciplines

Posted: February 22, 2015 in graffiti living
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Dorothea Brande was an American writer and editor who wrote two of my favourite books: Wake Up and Live and Becoming a Writer.

Here are Dorothea Brande’s 12 mental exercises to help you break out of ruts in your life. Roll some dice, or pick one at random, and do as instructed.

  1. Spend an hour each day without saying anything except in answer to direct questions, in the midst of the usual group, without creating the impression that you’re sulking or ill. Be as ordinary as possible. But do not volunteer remarks or try to draw out information.

  2. Think for 30 minutes a day about one subject exclusively. Start with five minutes.

  3. Write a letter without using the words I, me, mine, my.

  4. Talk for 15 minutes a day without using I, me, my, mine.

  5. Write a letter in a “successful” or placid tone. No misstatements, no lying. Look for aspects or activities that can be honestly reported that way.

  6. Pause on the threshold of any crowded room and size it up.

  7. Keep a new acquaintance talking about himself or herself without allowing him to become conscious of it. Turn back any courteous reciprocal questions in a way that your auditor doesn’t feel rebuffed.

  8. Talk exclusively about yourself and your interests without complaining, boasting, or boring your companions.

  9. Cut “I mean” or “As a matter of fact” or any other verbal mannerism out of your conversation.

  10. Plan two hours of a day and stick to the plan.

  11. Set yourself twelve tasks at random: e.g., go twenty miles from home using ordinary conveyance; go 12 hours without food; go eat a meal in the unlikelist place you can find; say nothing all day except in answer to questions; stay up all night and work.

  12. From time to time, give yourself a day when you answer “yes” to any reasonable request.


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