Friday Favorite: Writing Down the Bones

janav Creativity, Friday Favorites, Resources, Writing Leave a Comment

Each Friday, I’ll be writing about one of my favorite resources for writing or creativity. If you have any to share, feel free to email me at jana(dot)vanderveer(at)gmail(dot)com or leave a comment.

Today’s pick is Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg, an inspirational classic. My copy is bound together with her next book, Wild Mind: Living the Writer’s Life. The chapters of both books are short, and talk about the simple things: going deep, attending to detail, being honest. Sometimes there are stories of her life related to her practice of Zen Buddhism, and she popularized two things: the idea of writing as practice, much in the way sitting meditation is a practice; and the idea of timed freewriting, where you set a timer and keep writing, never lifting your hand from the page, until the timer goes off.

These are powerful because they invoke the first rule of writing: Just Show Up. We show up, we write for the required time, and we see what comes up, not censoring or editing or judging as we go.

If you’re stuck, there are many exercises in both books that are wonderful ways to jumpstart your imagination. Sometimes we’re in a period where we’re not working on a particular project and we just want to keep our creativity flowing. Sometimes we’re stuck in the middle of a project and can’t imagine what’s next. Either way, I dare you to read more than a few pages without the urge to pull out a pen and notebook (or hop on to your computer) and just write. It’s writing as play, reminding us of the joy we can take in our creation when we’re not flogging ourselves to create perfect sentences. Wonderful.

Have you read either of these books? What do you think of them?

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