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Wild Mind: Living the Writer's Life Paperback – October 1, 1990
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From Library Journal
This book is well intended but flawed by its somewhat incoherent style, lack of good writing, and an inability or unwillingness to target an audience. The brief autobiographical chapters offer counsel and moral support to the aspiring author, with a little Zen thrown in for good measure. There are several exercises for writing practice that are useful but can be invented or found elsewhere. The cosmic angle may appeal to those with New Age inclinations, although it may annoy others. While this book is inexpensive and accessible, a work on writing ought to contain some fine examples (e.g., Strunk and White's Elements of Style, or anything by William Zinsser).
- Janice Braun, Medical Historical Lib., Yale Univ.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From the Publisher
"Natalie Goldberg, author of the bestselling Writing Down The Bones, teaches a method of writing that can take you beyond craft to the true source of creative power: The mind that is "raw, full of energy, alive and hungry."
Here is compassionate, practical, and often humorous advice about how to find time to write, how to discover your personal style, how to make sentences come alive, and how to overcome procrastination and writer's block -- including more than thirty provocative "Try this" exercises to get your pen moving.
And here also is a larger vision of the writer's task: balancing daily responsibilities with a commitment to writing; knowing when to take risks as a writer and a human being; coming to terms with success and failure and loss; and learning self-acceptance -- both in life and art.
Wild Mind will change your way of writing. It may also change your life.
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Top customer reviews
Goldberg identifies three things that all writers must do: read a lot; listen well and deeply; write a lot. Zen works from the theory of becoming whole, and this is Goldberg’s theory too. There is a Zen "interconnectedness in your writing–feel it," she says. I've been reading and reviewing lots of writing books lately and this one has not only solid advice but inspiration too.
I especially appreciated Goldberg's recommendation to do timed writing exercises each day to get the creative juices flowing and find out what it is that you really are compelled to write about. The topics she lists to get started are fun and inventive and I have no doubt her writing workshops are very inspiring. I also enjoyed her exploration of writing as a form of meditation.
The book does get repetitive at times, and like Bird by Bird I think it's geared more towards memoir and life writing rather than fiction, borne out by the fact that Goldberg has only written one novel. The rest of her oeuvre consists of poetry and books on writing instruction and memoirs. Despite this there are many gems to be found among its pages for all writers.
Here are some of my favourites:
"Chogyam Trungpa, Rinpoche, a Tibetan Buddhist master, said, 'We must continue to open in the face of tremendous opposition. No one is encouraging us to open and still we must peel away the layers of the heart.' It is the same with this way of practice writing. We must continue to open and trust in our own voice and process."
"Think of writing practice as loving arms you come to illogically and incoherently. It's our wild forest were we gather energy before going to prune our garden, write our fine books and novels. It's a continual practice."
"If you are not afraid of the voices inside you, you will not fear the critics outside you."
"We are important and our lives are important, magnificent really, and their details are worthy to be recorded. This is how writers must think, this is how we must sit down with pen in hand. We were here; we are human beings; this is how we lived. Let it be known, the earth passed before us. Our details are important."
"Play around. Dive into absurdity and write. Take chances. You will succeed if you are fearless of failure."
"You should listen to what people say. Take in what they say. (Don't build a steel box around yourself) Then make your own decision. It's your poem and your voice. There are no clear-cut rules; it is a relationship with yourself. What is it you wanted to say? What do you want to expose about yourself?"
"You have to make sure that a book comes from a deep passion or even obsession
Such an ease to read, as her chapters are one or two pages. You can open it anywhere and savor a morsel of creative inspiration.
Some of her chapter titles give you a sense of her fun, original self, titles such as: "Don't Marry the Fly," "Writing is not a McDonald's Hamburger," Fighting Tofu" and then are those one might expect in a book on writing: "Show, Don't Tell," "Original Detail," "Be Specific."
Read "Writing Down the Bones" and ignite your creative spirit, learn what is strong, effective writing, even ideas on where to write besides your home. This book is one you will treasure and refer to often, feeling relaxed, deliighted, set free and informed.
If no, and you are just starting out it can be helpful. It can also be helpful if you are doing some introspective therapy work because it tends to ask the all the right questions and helps you think deeply into your experiences and get them down on paper. Often, after you get them out of your head you are free of them.