- Paperback: 224 pages
- Publisher: Shambhala; Expanded edition (December 6, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1590302613
- ISBN-13: 978-1590302613
- Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.6 x 8.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 612 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #132,435 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within, 2nd Edition Paperback – December 6, 2005
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"I'm convinced that none of the writers of my acquaintance can go another day without a copy of Natalie Goldberg's magical manual Writing Down the Bones."—Linda Weltner, The Boston Globe
"The secret of creativity, Natalie Goldberg makes clear, is to subtract rules for writing, not add them. It's a process of 'uneducation' rather than education. Proof that she knows what she's talking about is abundant in her own sentences. They flow with speed and grace and accuracy and simplicity. It looks easy to a reader, but writers know it is the hardest writing of all."—Robert Pirsig, author of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
About the Author
Natalie Goldberg is the author of ten books. Writing Down the Bones, her first, has sold over one million copies and has been translated into twelve languages. For the last thirty years she has practiced Zen and taught seminars in writing as a spiritual practice. She lives in New Mexico.
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It didn't take long to lose the resistance at all. Writing Down the Bones is a gem of a listen, it's like the oddest little ear candy ever. Her steady metronome style of speaking is filled with rules of engagement, with kindness, and with some arguments to counter your own self when you meet your true resistance. This was written well before the marketing / writing / promoting self-help boom came along, and thank goodness. Natalie Goldberg's book is entirely without jargon and tactics, god how I hate that word now, and yet it is a complete guide to "writing your asses off." I lived in Boulder and went to Naropa and everyone and their dog was all agog over Writing Down the Bones. It reminded me of being in junior high when all of the girls in my grade were going crazy over Flowers In the Attic, which did nothing for me. As a result, ok years later as an adult, I found fault with the title - I hated it actually. And then refused to read it. My own loss.
Thankfully, years and years later I was making another long commute in the car, and had run out of things to listen to. Radio reception in the mountains, late at night, meant being hostage to the 3 stations that had no static: orchestral music and Jesus channels. No thank you. I grabbed Writing Down the Bones cassette pack (remember those?) from the library in haste... OK already, I yelled at myself. And popped in the tape and began my drive. It was a delightful late night drive that left me energized, alert, optimistic. She sprinkles in bits about her Buddhist practice which informed her writing of the book, without relying on too much woo, for those of you who think Buddhism is for the birds. It reminded me of my own really haphazard practice of Maitri, which means loving kindness. If you listen to Writing Down the Bones, you are engaging in an act of loving kindness to yourself. And if you allow yourself to take that extra step of actually writing, you're deepening that experience. Or, that's how I take it. You might actually also have a story to show for it. I've gone through the cassettes numerous times. And this is actually my 2nd purchase of the mp3 file since I couldn't recall the account and password I'd used for the first purchase. It's worth it to me to have Natalie Goldberg handy in my back pocket. You might think so, too.
She is not Stephen King, Ray Bradbury, Lawrence Block, Mary Karr or Jane Smiley. Those are all authors who took time from their busy novel-writing careers to reach back and coach those who also wish to carry that particular baton.
Who Natalie Goldberg is centers around her two main identities - as a zen practitioner and as an instructor of writing mindset. She is about preparing a writer or writing student for a life of production, either commercial or personal (journal?). Reading WRITING DOWN THE BONES (her 1986 maiden voyage), or any of her several other instructional works, you become familiar with her all-in discipline of "writing practice" binge sessions in which adherants tear through as much ink and paper as possible, free of self-editing or even penmanship. Her rules are brutal: hand keeps moving, no crossing out, forget spelling, and losing control of your inner editor. Don't think, she says, go for the jugular.
There are critics and negative reviewers who fault Goldberg as self-centered because so much of her instructions are classroom anecdotes or daily incidents (or insights about her guru Katagiri Roshi). But such criticisms miss the point. If Buddhist discipline and writing are taught together there must be a dynamic. The hand moves as the nunchuku must fly from the guiding force of spirit, sure and unquestioned.
So understanding that Mz Goldberg is teaching the physicality of writing, the chi of productivity. This informs the reader that undertaking the writer's life is best done with a sturdy pen and a spiral notebook, not a dipp'd quill and length of parchment.