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Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within

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For more than twenty years Natalie Goldberg has been challenging and cheering on writers with her books and workshops. In her groundbreaking first book, she brings together Zen meditation and writing in a new way. Writing practice, as she calls it, is no different from other forms of Zen practice--"it is backed by two thousand years of studying the mind." This edition incl For more than twenty years Natalie Goldberg has been challenging and cheering on writers with her books and workshops. In her groundbreaking first book, she brings together Zen meditation and writing in a new way. Writing practice, as she calls it, is no different from other forms of Zen practice--"it is backed by two thousand years of studying the mind." This edition includes a new preface and an interview with the author.


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For more than twenty years Natalie Goldberg has been challenging and cheering on writers with her books and workshops. In her groundbreaking first book, she brings together Zen meditation and writing in a new way. Writing practice, as she calls it, is no different from other forms of Zen practice--"it is backed by two thousand years of studying the mind." This edition incl For more than twenty years Natalie Goldberg has been challenging and cheering on writers with her books and workshops. In her groundbreaking first book, she brings together Zen meditation and writing in a new way. Writing practice, as she calls it, is no different from other forms of Zen practice--"it is backed by two thousand years of studying the mind." This edition includes a new preface and an interview with the author.

30 review for Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jason Koivu

    Natalie Goldberg's droning voice sapped the life out of anything of value she had to say. And what did she have to say? Pretty much the same as other how-to-write books. Writing Down the Bones is your bog-standard cheerleader-style writing advice, but delivered in a cheerless voice: g.o...y.o.u...you can do it.... That sort of stuff can be inspiring when done right, but a whole book's worth will take the punch out of any pep talk. Clearly it was a mistake to listen to Goldberg narrate this one o Natalie Goldberg's droning voice sapped the life out of anything of value she had to say. And what did she have to say? Pretty much the same as other how-to-write books. Writing Down the Bones is your bog-standard cheerleader-style writing advice, but delivered in a cheerless voice: g.o...y.o.u...you can do it.... That sort of stuff can be inspiring when done right, but a whole book's worth will take the punch out of any pep talk. Clearly it was a mistake to listen to Goldberg narrate this one on tape. Yeah, I listened to this on cassette. Hey, I had an old car with a cassette deck and 30 minutes to and from work to kill. Roadrage can be quelled with a good audiobook. Unfortunately. Writing Down the Bones made me want to play pinball with my Hyundai, using the other cars on the highway as the bumpers. Frankly I found a great deal more worth in Stephen King's On Writing and I'm not even a big King fan. Writing Down the Bones won't steer you wrong, hell you might even learn a thing or two, but it nearly had me steering for the nearest bridge abutment.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    I've owned this book for six years. My copy is the pocket-size version. Its cover is wrapped in packing tape to slow the dog-earing. The first time I read this book in college, and many times since, I carried it everywhere with me, reading it before classes, and over lunch in the dining hall. Natalie Goldberg's short, friendly chapters filled with spiritual and practical wisdom and stories made me feel as though a very warm and welcoming teacher had sat down across the table from me and struck up I've owned this book for six years. My copy is the pocket-size version. Its cover is wrapped in packing tape to slow the dog-earing. The first time I read this book in college, and many times since, I carried it everywhere with me, reading it before classes, and over lunch in the dining hall. Natalie Goldberg's short, friendly chapters filled with spiritual and practical wisdom and stories made me feel as though a very warm and welcoming teacher had sat down across the table from me and struck up a conversation about writing and the writing life. I have read some criticisms of this book, and all I can say is that for me, it works. If you are looking for a book of writing exercises, instructions on prosody or advice on how to revise, this isn't that book. If you don't want to hear about Zen Buddhism, this book is not for you. What this book does for me is make me want to write again. It is very much comfort reading, something I can carry around in my purse, pull out at a bus stop and read any chapter, then look out at the world with eyes a little more open and a mind a little more clear. And most importantly, it makes me want to write.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jenny (Reading Envy)

    I heard about this book a lot while doing Nanowrimo last year, and thought I'd read it. It's a little amusing, written in 1984, so pre-computer really. And some of her advice was pretty repetitive, but I did get some glimmers out of there. "We walk through so many myths of each other and ourselves; we are so thankful when someone sees us for who we are and accepts us." "You're never free unless you are doing your art." "I write because to form a word with your lips and tongue or think a thing and t I heard about this book a lot while doing Nanowrimo last year, and thought I'd read it. It's a little amusing, written in 1984, so pre-computer really. And some of her advice was pretty repetitive, but I did get some glimmers out of there. "We walk through so many myths of each other and ourselves; we are so thankful when someone sees us for who we are and accepts us." "You're never free unless you are doing your art." "I write because to form a word with your lips and tongue or think a thing and then dare to write it down so you can never take it back is the most powerful thing I know." "If you give yourself over to honesty in your practice, it will permeate your life.... Writing can teach us the dignity of speaking the truth, and it spreads out from the page into all of our life, and it should."

  4. 5 out of 5

    Gabriel

    For you poets out there, this book is for you. For those of you meant to write memoirs and light happy stories about light happy things, this book is for you. For those of you who want to write about things of no consequence that have some consequence - The Light Coming Through The Window, Your Favorite Meal, Blue - this book is for you too. For those of us who are busy thinking of short stories, who are thinking of horror, who think of sf that may deal with harder topics, that think of things that For you poets out there, this book is for you. For those of you meant to write memoirs and light happy stories about light happy things, this book is for you. For those of you who want to write about things of no consequence that have some consequence - The Light Coming Through The Window, Your Favorite Meal, Blue - this book is for you too. For those of us who are busy thinking of short stories, who are thinking of horror, who think of sf that may deal with harder topics, that think of things that may not be so happy and want to write those things down. For those of us who are dedicated to our short stories and don't want to think in poetical terms (unless, of course, you are an Artiste!), this book does not have as much for us as I had wished. It's not for lack of trying. Indeed, the thrust of this book is to free the idea of what it means to write. Stuck in a section? Why don't you try dressing up as someone else and move to a different location and write there! Sentences too boring? Why don't you change word order and play with that punctuation! And yet, for each one of these things that it brings up, I felt less and less like Natalie Goldberg was talking to me and more like she was talking to the Poet across town. She speaks in a language meant for the Burl Ives of this world. And, you know, kudos to them! We need those folk just as much as we need the David Lynches. But I hoped for a little more. I wanted something that forced me to write. Because (and this is why I was "reading" this book for the last 9 months) I wrote for 10 minutes after each chapter. I wanted something that would gear my writing and yet, for 90% of those writings, I was just meandering about a phrase that I wanted to argue about or some other thing. I'm sure there are many out there who want to read this book, and if you fall into one of those lists from the start, you will get TONS from this book. Otherwise, maybe read [Book: Bird By Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life] by Anne Lamott instead?

  5. 5 out of 5

    Bonnie

    I picked up Writing Down the Bones when I was still teaching elementary school, and used ideas from it with my grades two to four students. My emphasis on these “10-minute writes” was on unedited (until later) free-writing. The rules were a condensed version of Natalie’s: -Keep your hand moving -Don’t cross out -Don’t worry about spelling, punctuation, grammar -Don’t think I would set the timer, and on the word, “start”, pencils began moving, some faster than others. And of course I would be writing I picked up Writing Down the Bones when I was still teaching elementary school, and used ideas from it with my grades two to four students. My emphasis on these “10-minute writes” was on unedited (until later) free-writing. The rules were a condensed version of Natalie’s: -Keep your hand moving -Don’t cross out -Don’t worry about spelling, punctuation, grammar -Don’t think I would set the timer, and on the word, “start”, pencils began moving, some faster than others. And of course I would be writing, too. Some students had no difficulty; others couldn’t let go. No matter; it wasn’t a competition. When the timer went off, I’d say, “Pencils down”, and pages were filed into their writing folders. After doing a number of these exercises, when a student thought there might be a story to develop, the raw material of the “stream-of-consciousness” draft was used to expand on the idea, rewrite, and then edit. Eventually, each student improved in fluency and was able to create a “hard-cover” book. Some stories contained a line per page with an illustration. Others filled their book with writing, and the odd illustration. The “published” copy contained a picture of the author on the back, along with a short bio. Quite a number of years later, I participated in a workshop facilitated by a friend and fan of Natalie Goldberg. Most of the exercises began with the words, “I remember….” To this day I still use a pen and paper, instead of the computer, to begin a new chapter or scene, or if I get ‘stuck’ in the middle of one. I would recommend this book for all writers, but especially for beginning writers. And for teachers who might want to incorporate this exercise into their writing curriculum. As the title suggests, “Writing Down the Bones” is actually “Freeing the writer within.” This is a book, not about the revision required for all “published” writing, but about generating and recording the essential ideas in the first place.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    Okay, this book is amazing. I feel that this will be one of those books that never stays on my bookshelf. I will too often be taking it down to read bits and pieces. Very inspiring.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jenny

    This is a great starting-point aspiring-writer's book, terrific for getting the creative juices flowing. I have used Natalie Goldberg's techniques both as a writer and as a writing teacher. Eventually, if you want to write Things That Other People Want to Read and not just Things That Are Good to Write, you need to work on the less free-spirited, less blue-sky, and occasionally less exciting stuff: structure, pacing, whittling away extraneous words. You need to learn to *re*write, to do somethin This is a great starting-point aspiring-writer's book, terrific for getting the creative juices flowing. I have used Natalie Goldberg's techniques both as a writer and as a writing teacher. Eventually, if you want to write Things That Other People Want to Read and not just Things That Are Good to Write, you need to work on the less free-spirited, less blue-sky, and occasionally less exciting stuff: structure, pacing, whittling away extraneous words. You need to learn to *re*write, to do something with the "bones" you've flung onto the page. This book won't take you there, but it opens up the first important part of the writing process, of accessing imagination and getting words on the page. It's worth mentioning that Goldberg uses writing as a Zen Buddhist practice, like meditation, and in that context it's the writing itself, not the end product, that is important anyway.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Nicky

    Reading Writing Down The Bones by Natalie Goldberg and Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott struck me as reading two very similar books from two distinct voices. Writing Down The Bones is a personal reflection on the craft and what works for Goldberg and might work for you. It's easy to digest, coming in short chapters, and it really does make you think about what you write, how you sit down to work, whether you're really dedicated to writing. The allusions to Buddhism and Judaism and how they affect her Reading Writing Down The Bones by Natalie Goldberg and Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott struck me as reading two very similar books from two distinct voices. Writing Down The Bones is a personal reflection on the craft and what works for Goldberg and might work for you. It's easy to digest, coming in short chapters, and it really does make you think about what you write, how you sit down to work, whether you're really dedicated to writing. The allusions to Buddhism and Judaism and how they affect her writing are also interesting. Some of her advice seems contradictory, but really it's just that it comes from different places in the process. Some of it is the average advice you get from all writers -- keep a notebook, take it everywhere, write in it every day, just as an example -- but coupled with her experience of doing that. I felt like it was a little bit repetitive and it didn't focus much on what to do with the writing once you've done it, but it was still worth reading.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Laurie

    This book changed my life as a writer, a teacher of writing, and as an individual! I use this book currently in my high school Creative Writing I class. I read chapters to the students; we talk about what they might mean, and how the advice given could change their writing. I wasn't sure if this approach would be successful with high school age students, but within weeks I have seen more free writing, more stream of consciousness writing, and more unedited writing than ever before! My students ar This book changed my life as a writer, a teacher of writing, and as an individual! I use this book currently in my high school Creative Writing I class. I read chapters to the students; we talk about what they might mean, and how the advice given could change their writing. I wasn't sure if this approach would be successful with high school age students, but within weeks I have seen more free writing, more stream of consciousness writing, and more unedited writing than ever before! My students are enjoying the drafting and brainstorming stages of writing because they seem to be less intimidating. If they don't know what to write, they free write until an idea comes to mind! Thanks Natalie!

  10. 4 out of 5

    J. Sebastian

    This is an encouraging and motivating little volume, filled with an assortment of anecdotes, advice, and exercises for writing practice; it is a good way to get into the habit of writing. It has, however, one of the ugliest book covers I have ever seen. Writing Down the Bones promotes a Zen-like writing practice, in which no errors are possible, provided that one be present and continue to write. Goldberg gives the student permission to write badly, and creates a liberating safe-space that helps This is an encouraging and motivating little volume, filled with an assortment of anecdotes, advice, and exercises for writing practice; it is a good way to get into the habit of writing. It has, however, one of the ugliest book covers I have ever seen. Writing Down the Bones promotes a Zen-like writing practice, in which no errors are possible, provided that one be present and continue to write. Goldberg gives the student permission to write badly, and creates a liberating safe-space that helps a lot of students find the courage to write, and eventually to discover that they have something valuable within them.

  11. 5 out of 5

    J.F. Penn

    I read this book again every few years. I love it. It takes me back to the fundamentals of writing & gives me pages of notes , thoughts, lines of poetry & my own inspiration and memory. A must for all writers.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Caro the Helmet Lady

    It was interesting and made sense, but just not really my thing. Too much of Zen and Buddhism and it's not like I'm against it or something, but it's just not what I expected from this book, I guess. Might come back to it someday, though. It was interesting and made sense, but just not really my thing. Too much of Zen and Buddhism and it's not like I'm against it or something, but it's just not what I expected from this book, I guess. Might come back to it someday, though.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Anne Ku

    I went to a Writing Group in the Hague today for the first time. Seeing the half-read paperback "Writing Down the Bones" on someone's table made me curious as I had heard of it before. I simply couldn't put it down. So I negotiated with the owner of the book, the friend who introduced me to the writing group, to swap the book I was reading (something about taking back your life, another self-help book I was half-way through and wanted to finish and give away because there were too many of such bo I went to a Writing Group in the Hague today for the first time. Seeing the half-read paperback "Writing Down the Bones" on someone's table made me curious as I had heard of it before. I simply couldn't put it down. So I negotiated with the owner of the book, the friend who introduced me to the writing group, to swap the book I was reading (something about taking back your life, another self-help book I was half-way through and wanted to finish and give away because there were too many of such books on my shelf and repertoire) -- for her book to finish reading by tomorrow. I read Goldberg's bestseller on the steps next to the famous Dr Anton Philipzaal (concert hall) after a much-needed salt-and-pepper squid and rice take-out meal. I continued reading it on the train back to Utrecht, hoping the train ride would not end. As soon as I got home, I sat in the garden in the setting northern European sun, anxious to digest the remaining pearls of wisdom before the sun disappeared from the roof tops of the monument houses. I finished the book in less than a day. I guess I was desperate. I had not read a book about writing in a long time. I had loads to write, but I could not even do the "free writing" of today's writing session, only jotting down bullet points and ideas from my head, flushing out the burden of responsibility to write reviews and more. I had not kept a journal for more than a year. I was stuck. Reading Natalie Goldberg's book freed the writer within me.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Tim Dudek

    Having heard great praise for this book from several people I respect I had high hopes. Like many, I found it lacking. Golberg wrote a book not about writing but about using Zen to overcoming self doubt. I am sure this could be quite helpful to many prospective writers. Judging by the many positive reviews this is the case. And to those of you I say, “More power to ya”. I rarely wallow in self doubt of my writing ability. I fail to write not because I am afraid, but because I am lazy and easily Having heard great praise for this book from several people I respect I had high hopes. Like many, I found it lacking. Golberg wrote a book not about writing but about using Zen to overcoming self doubt. I am sure this could be quite helpful to many prospective writers. Judging by the many positive reviews this is the case. And to those of you I say, “More power to ya”. I rarely wallow in self doubt of my writing ability. I fail to write not because I am afraid, but because I am lazy and easily distracted. Natalie Goldberg spends most of the short chapters in this short book talking about her Zen teacher and about embracing irrationality. Maybe this technique helps poets but it seems unhelpful to prose writers. She highlights this in one chapter where she lists several poems. They are a gibberish and incoherent jumble of unconnected words. I did glean two actual pieces of practical advice from this fifteen dollar book. First, write a lot. This should not shock anyone since this every book, article, and seminar about writing contains the same advice. I found the second idea far more helpful. We need to separate the writer in us from the editor. Put simply, don’t edit your work as you are writing. Just get the words on the page. Don’t like something in that sentence? Ignore it and just keep writing. Come back later and edit it. There I’ve given you the two things you will actually get from this book and just saved you fifteen dollars.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Angel

    I put it under inspirational, since it does have a lot of that, but this is also the best writing book I have read. I got it on the recommendation of a colleague of mine when I was still teaching high school English. It has inspired me to be a better writer myself. And it is just a good book to read when you need something that is easy and relaxing. Goldberg is very encouraging, inspiring, and gentle with a bit of an erotic element. I am finally adding it now as I am rereading it yet again. True I put it under inspirational, since it does have a lot of that, but this is also the best writing book I have read. I got it on the recommendation of a colleague of mine when I was still teaching high school English. It has inspired me to be a better writer myself. And it is just a good book to read when you need something that is easy and relaxing. Goldberg is very encouraging, inspiring, and gentle with a bit of an erotic element. I am finally adding it now as I am rereading it yet again. True, it was written before computers really took off, but I am sure a lot of the advice is still very applicable. For instance, I am sure instead of notebooks and diners, you may be using a laptop in a coffee shop with wifi. Overall, the book remains very effective and timeless.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Shelley

    I love, love, love this book with all of my beating heart. There's a kind of fuzzy warmth, like standing present on a balcony overlooking autumnal woods and hearing the sounds of bird songs, as I finished Writing Down the Bones. I want to tape this book to my chest and keep it with me always. (But my desk will have to do.) And I want to memorize every revelation. (But it was almost every other page.) Goldberg is a gift to this world. And Writing Down the Bones is the best book on writing I have e I love, love, love this book with all of my beating heart. There's a kind of fuzzy warmth, like standing present on a balcony overlooking autumnal woods and hearing the sounds of bird songs, as I finished Writing Down the Bones. I want to tape this book to my chest and keep it with me always. (But my desk will have to do.) And I want to memorize every revelation. (But it was almost every other page.) Goldberg is a gift to this world. And Writing Down the Bones is the best book on writing I have ever read!!! There is so much insight and wisdom, guidance and soul healing, that no amount of words could explain. All I can say is... Read it! Read it! Read it! Re-read 2020: Each time I open up Writing Down the Bones, it brings me great peace & recconects my heart to trust again. To believe. To write. I adore this wholeheartedly. My favourite book on writing.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    It took my ego 15 years to crack open Stephen King's memoir, On Writing. When I finally did, I was transformed. . . how could his writing process be so similar to mine? Why do he and I have the same strange thoughts? The deep connection to that book led me to rethink this book, Writing Down the Bones, that has sat, barely touched, upon my night stand for nearly a decade. I have come to realize, through these two excellent books, that it's good to journey outside of your powerfully resistant ego a It took my ego 15 years to crack open Stephen King's memoir, On Writing. When I finally did, I was transformed. . . how could his writing process be so similar to mine? Why do he and I have the same strange thoughts? The deep connection to that book led me to rethink this book, Writing Down the Bones, that has sat, barely touched, upon my night stand for nearly a decade. I have come to realize, through these two excellent books, that it's good to journey outside of your powerfully resistant ego and your own short-sightedness when it comes to seeking help. It's not even about "help." Natalie Goldberg wants you to remember that, if you are provoked to write, it's for a reason, and the only way to set yourself free is to validate your expression by working at it, daily. Whether you're a veteran or a novice, you need this book.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Daphne Stanford

    This book is what got me writing. Absolutely stunning in its simplicity, but also much more deep than one would think upon first glance. Natalie Goldberg is a brilliant teacher who compares writing to many other crafts that necessitate discipline and daily practice, including meditation, friendships/relationships, athletics, and just about everything else. A (very!) paraphrased/off the TOP of my head quote: [You may have $2 in the bank account, your children are screaming, your loved one is begg This book is what got me writing. Absolutely stunning in its simplicity, but also much more deep than one would think upon first glance. Natalie Goldberg is a brilliant teacher who compares writing to many other crafts that necessitate discipline and daily practice, including meditation, friendships/relationships, athletics, and just about everything else. A (very!) paraphrased/off the TOP of my head quote: [You may have $2 in the bank account, your children are screaming, your loved one is begging you to wash the dishes, the house is a wreck, you're hung over from the night before. Now get up, quietly move to the next room, and WRITE.]

  19. 4 out of 5

    Bill

    3.5 STARS Back in September I joined the newly formed Westfield Writer's Project https://www.facebook.com/groups/11641... and one of our writing assignments was to read a book on the craft of writing and and share our thoughts at our next meeting. I chose Writing Down The Bones! Perhaps it was the curious title that included the words “bones” and “writing” that attracted me to this book. Or maybe because it came up so many times during my messaging conversations with the WWP moderator over several 3.5 STARS Back in September I joined the newly formed Westfield Writer's Project https://www.facebook.com/groups/11641... and one of our writing assignments was to read a book on the craft of writing and and share our thoughts at our next meeting. I chose Writing Down The Bones! Perhaps it was the curious title that included the words “bones” and “writing” that attracted me to this book. Or maybe because it came up so many times during my messaging conversations with the WWP moderator over several months that the seeds of familiarity sprouted and took root in my head. Regardless of how I got here, I am so pleased to read this wonderful primer on the craft of writing. The idea of just digging in without goals or expectations of the next great America novel resonated with me as refreshing and truly liberating. Invariably I’ve approached my writing with lofty and unrealistic expectations of a perfectly polished product each and every time I sat down to write. And because I never could achieve those pie in the sky expectations, writing often felt like a frustrating chore wrought with failure. Goldberg has set me free! Beginner’s mind and mindfulness, staying in the moment without expectations or fear, are elements of my yoga practice that I never thought to apply to writing. Goldberg suggests we approach writing as a practice. Like long distance running, playing the piano or baking pastries, the more we do it, the better we get at it. But the practice must be consistent and scheduled regardless of how we feel or the level of motivation. As Nike proclaims, just do it! When we practice, Goldberg suggests, sit with no expectations of yourself. You are free to write the worst junk in the world! I'm loving the writer's group, loved this book and love writing the junk!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Julie Christine

    It's time for a reread of this classic.... So beautiful, confident, Zen, simple, inspiring, frank, courageous, and simple. Just sit down, put pen to paper, and write your guts out. I'll come back to this book time and again, open a page, read, be inspired. It's time for a reread of this classic.... So beautiful, confident, Zen, simple, inspiring, frank, courageous, and simple. Just sit down, put pen to paper, and write your guts out. I'll come back to this book time and again, open a page, read, be inspired.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Dave Cullen

    This is not a how-to guide, but a series of anecdotes, ideas and exercises for freeing up the voice, and getting unstuck. It's very different than most books on writing, and the best I know of at what it tries to do. It sure helped me. This is not a how-to guide, but a series of anecdotes, ideas and exercises for freeing up the voice, and getting unstuck. It's very different than most books on writing, and the best I know of at what it tries to do. It sure helped me.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Roxanne

    This was a great read on writing. I enjoyed this compilation of essays on the various aspects of being a writer and building a writing practice. What I most appreciated about this book was that the author did not just describe ways to be a better writer or tell us readers what to do in order to write better, but her essays show us that the author practices what she is preaching.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Gina

    Great book of non-dork writing prompts.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Zaki

    This is an excellent tool to loosening up the writing muscles.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Cassandra Hawkins

    Yesterday, I finished "Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within," by Natalie Goldberg. I started reading this book years ago. I began this book, when I was attending the University of Mississippi Writing Project Summer Institute. This Summer Institute was designed to teach teachers how to write and teach writing. At that time, I was only a special education teacher with a Master's degree in English, yearning and longing to teach English. Who would have thought that years later I would f Yesterday, I finished "Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within," by Natalie Goldberg. I started reading this book years ago. I began this book, when I was attending the University of Mississippi Writing Project Summer Institute. This Summer Institute was designed to teach teachers how to write and teach writing. At that time, I was only a special education teacher with a Master's degree in English, yearning and longing to teach English. Who would have thought that years later I would finish this book and use it in my English class on the collegiate level? This book is really great. What I like about this book is that you are taken away from the constraints of "normal" writing. You are encouraged to write. Goldberg's writing tips are beyond the realms of what is considered to be the normal method of teaching writing. Of course, I love her for this fact. Perhaps, I love her because I am different...hmmmm. Ok, I need to focus on the book. Today, I used one of the writing techniques from the book. I did a writing marathon with my students at Jackson State University. I put my students in a circle and put topics in a basket. I had a student pulled topics out of the basket. Students have a choice to write on the topic or write what's on their mind.The session is timed. I did four sessions of 10 minutes. After the first 10 minutes of non-stop writing. Students read their work. No one comments. As the instructor, I participated by writing and reading, just like my students. I opened up the floodgates of writing with this today!!! Thanks to Goldberg I was able to recognize something about myself that I never thought I would come to terms with. I am an "English Professor." I have inspired my students to write. Listening to my students read their work, I heard them profess what I had ignited into them. I had my students forgetting about a 7 am writing class. I had them dwelling within the confines of their soul and providing remnants of their souls to the world through writing. I am excited about using this method with my class at Holmes Community College.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jade Nicole

    At a time when I was ready to quit writing (yet again), I read Writing Down the Bones and felt revived and excited about writing, something I haven't felt in awhile. Even beyond the helpful advice is the author's energy, the ability to stir up in the reader an excitement for writing because she is excited about it, and it clearly shows. Her words gleam and sing with personality; her writing style is sensitive and down to earth. While the book heavily emphasizes writing freely in a notebook, I f At a time when I was ready to quit writing (yet again), I read Writing Down the Bones and felt revived and excited about writing, something I haven't felt in awhile. Even beyond the helpful advice is the author's energy, the ability to stir up in the reader an excitement for writing because she is excited about it, and it clearly shows. Her words gleam and sing with personality; her writing style is sensitive and down to earth. While the book heavily emphasizes writing freely in a notebook, I found it has a happy compromise about pausing at some point (later on) to "re-envision" what you've written. Writing Down the Bones would most likely appeal more to memoir writers and poets than novelists, but I think anyone can learn some things from it. The interview at the end of the book tackles the idea of the differences between novel writing and other types of writing, which was helpful even if it made me a little nervous! Natalie admits in that interview what a big challenge it was for her to write a novel as she is more of a non-linear (my phrase) writer, but trudged on anyhow. The book does get a bit repetitive at times, but then again, it's good reinforcement. If you're looking for a structured book about how to organize/outline a novel, look elsewhere, such as The Everything Guide to Writing Your First Novel by Hallie Ephron. If you're looking for a way to break out of a writing rut, just get some notebooks filled, and find fresh ways of looking at the world, then this is your book. And if you're greatly disturbed by Zen Buddhist concepts you might want to skip it, or if you can, take her advice for writing and not focus too much on her Buddhism.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    I tried to read this book many, many years ago and quit because I didn't get much out of it. There were occasional insights, but not nearly enough meat to keep me going. It is still on all the "must read" lists for writers, so I thought I'd give it another chance. After all, I was a teenager the last time I tried and I didn't have a lot of patience for things I didn't understand. I should have trusted my teen self. I was able to hit upon a few nuggets of wisdom, but for the most part, I was readi I tried to read this book many, many years ago and quit because I didn't get much out of it. There were occasional insights, but not nearly enough meat to keep me going. It is still on all the "must read" lists for writers, so I thought I'd give it another chance. After all, I was a teenager the last time I tried and I didn't have a lot of patience for things I didn't understand. I should have trusted my teen self. I was able to hit upon a few nuggets of wisdom, but for the most part, I was reading words -- just reading a series of words that held no interest or importance for me. I didn't find those words to be especially informative, nor did I find them to be especially inspiring. Maybe if I wait another 35 years to read the book, I'll finally understand what all the hype is about.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Julia

    I'm sure this book was trail-blazing when it was originally published in the mid-80s, but a lot of these concepts have been told and retold so many times in the past few decades it was tedious to read again. The author was genuine, and at times very insightful, but annoying. I felt like I went into a time machine and hung out with my kindly stoner art teacher from 3rd grade for a day. There was some value there, but it was work to wade through the self indulgent hippy stories from the 1970s unti I'm sure this book was trail-blazing when it was originally published in the mid-80s, but a lot of these concepts have been told and retold so many times in the past few decades it was tedious to read again. The author was genuine, and at times very insightful, but annoying. I felt like I went into a time machine and hung out with my kindly stoner art teacher from 3rd grade for a day. There was some value there, but it was work to wade through the self indulgent hippy stories from the 1970s until the author made her points.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Gil

    4 stars I’ve always found books about writing very comforting, like Lamott’s Bird by Bird, though I don’t consider myself a writer. Goldberg’s advice, as she herself admits, consists mainly in getting you to trust your own voice and to just sit down and start writing no matter what. Her persona is more a cheerleader than a critical editor, so if your biggest problem is getting started in the first place, this is a great book to read.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    Another great book about writing to read when I'm procrastinating writing! I listened to an anniversary edition that included the author's updated observations and comments about her initial words. I enjoyed the hindsight as well as Goldberg's Judeo-Buddhist influences on her writing craft. Another great book about writing to read when I'm procrastinating writing! I listened to an anniversary edition that included the author's updated observations and comments about her initial words. I enjoyed the hindsight as well as Goldberg's Judeo-Buddhist influences on her writing craft.

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