Book Review: Writing Down the Bones
By Natalie Bright
Over the holidays I read Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg, poet, painter, book author, and creative writing instructor on the Zen practice of writing. I’m so thankful that I did not read this as a newbie writer; it wouldn’t have meant so much way back then.
The Why isn’t Important
Presented in short chapters covering varied topics, Goldberg makes the point to dig deep into your writing. It’s an intense process where the writer has to step outside of themselves and just write, and it’s enough that we want to. Just do it. Psychologists can sort out the why—wow! Thank you, thank you Ms. Goldberg. Isn’t that a relief to know? And she gives us this great Hemingway quote: “Not the why, but the what.”
Don’t be a Goody Two-Shoes
One paragraph in particular really made me rethink this crazy process. In the section titled “The Goody Two-Shoes Nature” Goldberg talks about the age old rule of writing every day. She points out that some people go through the motions and follow this rule religiously, but does their writing improve? Is this a waste of time and energy if you stress yourself over staring at a blank screen? Instead, Goldberg suggests you are allowed to stay away, if your heart’s not into writing. Come back when you’re on fire for that WIP, when you’re “hungry to say something.” Don’t just put in the time, but put some heart into your effort as well.
Finding the Fire
I’ve been working on a picture book idea, which isn’t many words but every single word must be the absolute right word. I’ve read it a zillion times. Instead of staring at the manuscript every day during the holidays, I watched movies, cooked, re-arranged Christmas decorations more than once, and made a huge dent in my TBR pile of books. When I finally got a quiet morning to sit down at the keyboard, I was on fire for that story. It had been simmering in my head for several weeks and I stayed with it most of that day. That was a productive writing session and wow, what a great feeling. Writing is fun! I can hardly wait for critique meeting, so I can get everyone’s opinion.
If you read any story craft book in the new year, this is the one. You MUST add this to your writing reference library in 2015 and ASAP.
Hope you have a happy and productive 2015, and thanks for following us on WordsmithSix!