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Writing, Habit, & Style: Natalie Goldberg

Updated on February 19, 2008

Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones

Natalie Goldberg begins her book with simple suggestions: a journal should be easy and accessible, not fancy and bulky; a pen should be fluid and comfortable to write with, not scratchy or difficult to write with. Basically, a writer’s tools are important because they are what a writer uses every day. She also dismisses most of the excuses people make to avoid writing: you don’t need to create a special place to write, just write where you are most comfortable—in fact, you can write anywhere; whether you are out of money or have to go to work (an excuse I’ve used) or UPS lost the journal you’ve used to record your life for the past three years (true story), just write anyway.

Writing Down the Bones
Writing Down the Bones
Natalie Goldberg
Natalie Goldberg

Goldberg says to write a lot. When you write everyday, you are practicing craft and developing your style. A lot of the time, what you write might not be any good, in fact it might be crap, but at least you will be in the habit of writing. Then it won’t be difficult to find the good, meaningful pieces in your writing.

Only through constant writing will you develop your own writing style and find your voice.

“Writers write about things that other people don’t pay much attention to,” writes Goldberg. She points out that writers must be more observant than other people because they need material to write about. Being specific is also important. Instead of writing about a tree, name it as an elm, a pine, or a willow tree. Another important suggestion Goldberg makes is to create a set writing time with a writing partner. She met with a friend every Monday to write together—and what a wonderful idea to have a writing companion. Most importantly, though, Goldberg points out the need to master craft before experimenting. Until a writer can understand the rules and boundaries, he or she cannot successfully break or bend them.

Most importantly, Goldberg points out the importance of learning correct grammar and writing rules. Every writer needs to master the basic building blocks of writing. A writer needs to learn the rules before playing with them.

If you are a writer looking to learn more about style and craft, I suggest you read this book.


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