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Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within (Shambhala Library) Hardcover – March 30, 2010
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Top Customer Reviews
Like her earlier WRITING DOWN THE BONES, Goldberg has created another wonderful resource for the writer at any stage of his/her craft. She's evolved, refined and developed the exercises presented in Bones, as well as added new ideas. A favorite of mine is to read work aloud often. She writes: "Write, read,write, read. You become less attached to whether it is good or bad. 'I wrote this now I'll read it, no big deal.' " She gives guidelines for working in a writer's group, and has many "try this" suggestions sandwiched in between anecdotal moments from her life which enrich and strengthen us.
As a professional writer for 25 years, I personally learned from this book mid career and continue to revisit eleven years later. A must have for any writer.
As a professional writer who has written over 20 books and 500 magazine articles, I've given Writing Down the Bones away several times after mistakenly deciding that I'd outgrown it. Just as often I've had to go out and buy another copy to remind myself that there's more to the writing life than rejections, and royalties. Every time I reread it, I find something new. Last year I read Goldberg's memoir, Long Quiet Highway: Waking Up in America, which provides insights about how she came to her beliefs about writing and spirituality. I suggest reading both books.
Natalie points out that all beginning writers are controlled by their "inner censor" and therefore write what they think other people want to hear, or they put a false face on their writing. Natalie does indeed "free the writer within," by giving us permission to "just write sh--" (her words,not mine). The gist of the book is this: just write. Go for volume, not quality. The quality will come as you gain experience and lose your inhibitions. Natalie says everything you write, not just the good stuff but the bad as well, creates a "compost heap of the mind." It stays in your subconscious and mellows and ripens, ready to fertilize your skills and imagination for future writing projects. I actually put Natalie's suggestions into practice and kept a writer's journal for several years (and still do), and wrote thousands of words. I feel that my writing skills did indeed improve and even shine.
Natalie also discusses some things to try, like writing in different places, and discusses useful topics like metaphor and simile. Her book is not a technical manual, but rather an easy read, a personal insight into the joy and freedom from uninhibited writing. I always recommend this book first to anyone who expresses an interest in learning to write.
When I purchased the book, I saw nothing to indicate that it was specific to one particular form of writing, but after reading it, I feel that the author speaks much more to poetry than other forms of writing. The author on several occasions admonishes us to write in the moment and not dwell on ideas we've had in the past. She relates an experience of one student who had a fully-formed idea while out jogging but couldn't reproduce it when s/he got home to the blank page. Goldberg went into a spiel about how we should just let go of those thoughts that are not inspired or conceived in the moment that we sit down to write. That's where I have a fundamental disagreement with her and feel her philosophy becomes almost destructive to new writers. Perhaps poetry functions that way. Perhaps someone has to have that spontaneous quality about their work in order for it to be fresh and exciting. I don't know. I'm not a poet. However, for novels, short stories, and longer works, you would be a fool to let great ideas get away. Personally, I like to let some of those ideas percolate for weeks and even years. Yes, we mature and our perspectives change, but in a lot of cases that only means that we can approach a subject in a different way as we grow older. It doesn't make the subject any better or worse to write about.
Bottom line: I came away from the book with mixed feelings.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book changed the way I thought about the spiritual practice of writing. I finally found that others think of writing that way, too, and Goldberg is a guru worth listening to. Read morePublished 2 days ago by Mike A
I think the negative reviews on here are missing the bigger picture. So what if she relates writing through the zen mind thing and speaks a lot about spirituality. Read morePublished 8 days ago by Jeff Richardson
An older writing helpful to a beginning writer. Wisdom and helpfulness on every page.Published 17 days ago by Roy Bowen
The best book for any writer, old or new! I give away copies all the time.Published 1 month ago by Leah Griffith
Excellent alternative to the more structured approaches such as Julia Cameron's impressive Artist's Way series. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
Some repetition in this book as the on from Julia Cameron but another good source for writers.Published 1 month ago by Carol Wells
Natalie has a way of helping all writers realize they indeed have a voice. A writer's how to write. ThanksPublished 1 month ago by T