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Natalie Goldberg and "Writing Down The Bones"

Updated on December 1, 2012

"Writing Down The Bones" So Many Readings I've Lost Count

My copy of "Writing Down the Bones" is well worn from reading and carrying it wherever I go. Each time it falls apart, I simply tape it and glue it back together again.
My copy of "Writing Down the Bones" is well worn from reading and carrying it wherever I go. Each time it falls apart, I simply tape it and glue it back together again.

Natalie Goldberg

Natalie Goldberg at Upaya Zen Center 2008. Photo by Upaya, Copyright Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License.
Natalie Goldberg at Upaya Zen Center 2008. Photo by Upaya, Copyright Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License.

"Freeing the Writer Within"

Natalie Goldberg is no ordinary writing instructor. In her book, "Writing Down the Bones," she doesn't dwell on punctuation or grammar or any of those other standard rules of "style." She talks about "freeing the writer within."

According to a 2003 Sun Magazine article, Ms Goldberg has sold over 1 million copies of "Writing Down the Bones" in 10 different languages. That's a lot of writers interested in what she has to say.

The chapters have names like: First Thoughts, Don't Marry the Fly, Trouble With the Editor, The Power of Detail, What Are Your Deep Dreams, A Tourist in Your Own Town and Why Do I Write? Each chapter stands alone, so it doesn't matter where you begin. You can read the whole book straight through or pick out an interesting chapter and bounce back and forth.

Writing Practice

Natalie Goldberg talks a lot about writing practice, keeping a notebook and writing in it every day. With a pen . She believes there's something about the movement of the hand and the arm and the pen connecting with the page.

Of course when the book was published in 1986, most people didn't have personal computers to capture every fleeting thought. Ms Goldberg did have a typewriter; still she stressed putting pen to paper, writing practice, as the best way to free the writer within.

"You Should Read 'Writing Down the Bones'" - Bebe Moore Campbell

I learned about Natalie Goldberg's "Writing Down the Bones" from the late Bebe Moore Campbell, a prolific best selling author who was in a position to know.

About ten years ago, I attended one of her book signings at the local Joseph Beth Store. Ms. Moore Campbell had been a successful writer for a long time and drew a crowd. She thrilled the group with a reading from her newly released novel and spoke about her craft.

When she offered an unsolicited tip to writer wannabes in the audience, "If any of you believe you want to be a writer then you should read "Writing Down the Bones," my ears perked up.

I did want to write. I hadn't done much toward that goal, but I did want to be a writer.

Books By Bebe Moore Campbell

I Wanted to Write

I was about 10 years post walking away from my insurance career, intending to create jewelry, make cakes and write. I was pretty good at jewelry and teaching my skills at an inner city ministry. I'd designed and created my share of wedding and birthday cakes but grew tired of all that heat in the kitchen.

Writing had eluded me; so I decided I needed that book. I'd already blown my book budget on Ms. Moore-Campbell's new novel, but I found "Writing Down the Bones" at the local discount book store and it's been with me ever since.

Natalie Goldberg's "Wild Mind"

I stumbled across "Wild Mind," another Natalie Goldberg writing book, at a library sale a year ago. I've only read it two or three times, but I find it interesting and full of insight, just like 'Bones."

In "Wild Mind," Goldberg explains Wild Mind and Monkey Mind and living the writer's life. You have to get the book to understand the concepts, but the gist of it is: Wild Mind Good for a writer - Monkey Mind, Bad.

Have you read Natalie Goldberg's books?

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    • Pcunix profile image

      Tony Lawrence 7 years ago from SE MA

      Sounds great - next stop, Anazon.

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