Thursday, December 17, 2009

Life as Writing Practice


Natalie Goldberg's book Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within is one of the best-selling writing books of all time - over 1 million copies sold in fifteen languages since the first edition of 1986.

It is a book about process, about writing itself and about the self writing. Unlike many other books of advice on writing, Goldberg's classic does not focus on rules for writing correctly. If anything, she breaks more rules than she offers.

Creativity and granting oneself permission to write are two of Goldberg's concerns. The exercises she suggests promote writing - writing as writing, writing as life, writing as Zen practice.

The point of a practice writing session is to write, now, in the moment, pen to paper, without censoring. One of the first exercises that Goldberg discusses having her classes do is to write without lifting the pen from the paper for a set time - 5, 10, 20 minutes.


For these sessions there are rules for the process to help writers "burn through to first thoughts:" no stopping, no editing, no worrying about spelling and such, no holding back, no reasoning, no fear.

In other sections of the book, Goldberg reminds writers that they and their words are not one, that practicing writing (as for a sport) is good, that whatever is in the moment is a good topic to write about, and that sentences should have action and energy.



This is one of my favourite books on writing. I turn to it again and again for inspiration and good solid help. Goldberg's wonderful book was re-released in 2005 by Shambhala. It's time for a whole new generation of writers to experience the Zen of the book and to use life as writing practice.



The video interview with Goldberg highlights her ideas about writing and creativity.

12 comments:

Simon said...

Yeh It makes alot of sense.Perhaps I should give it a go!

ChrisJ said...

Simon, You'll be amazed if you try the timed exercise.

Meam Wye said...

Thank you for this informative post and for sharing the names of the books. Just a few days ago, someone was seeking my advice for such books .... now I can forward these titles to him :)

ChrisJ said...

Meam, The book is really helpful. I'm sure he will like it.

I always appreciate your comments.

askcherlock said...

This is a wonderfully informative suggestion. I have written the names, title and author and will search. Thanks so much.

ChrisJ said...

Cher,

It really is an excellent book; I'm sure you will like it.

I Wonder Wye said...

yep, great book. I also love 'Bird by Bird' by Lorrie Moore......

ChrisJ said...

I Wonder Wye,

I'll have the check out the "Bird by Bird" book. Thanks.

angelshair said...

You made me want to read this book!! Thank you for sharing.

ChrisJ said...

angelshair,

It's very worth reading.

cooper said...

This is a great idea for a gift book. I know someone this would be perfect for. Glad I popped in at the right moment. Wonderful.

ChrisJ said...

Cooper,

Always happy to help with gift choices. :)