Book Review: Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg
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Book Review: Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg

Natalie Goldberg's "writing down the bones" is a must read for all those who have passion for writing and wants to bring originality and creativity in their work.

Writing down the bones is a fascinating book written by Natalie Goldberg. The book tells us that how writers can adopt a different approach of bringing their original thinking and natural feelings on paper instead of following set rules of dull and boring clear sentences, grammar and punctuations. Throughout the book by quoting various examples, her own experiences and simple techniques Natalie shows that to bring the life in our writings it is important to let free the writer that lies deep within us.

In the initial chapters of book, writer talks about the importance of creator and editor and why we must keep both of them separate. She asserts that creation is the first phase; brain storm and let your thoughts flow freely. Edition is something that should take place at very later stage. When in creation phase we shouldn’t edit anything at all, whether it’s a spelling mistake, grammatical error or typographical error. The objective of this exercise is to put all the thoughts on paper that trigger in our mind. When writing, sometimes our mind comes across things that sound really absurd or stupid. Don’t shy away from putting these thoughts on paper or don’t try to look back and edit or cut them. This is what exactly is the essence of our original thinking and creativity and sometimes the things that sound absurd at time help us find those fascinating dimensions in topic that normally our conscious minds have been hesitant to accept.

Natalie further says that only once you have written all that was on your mind, you should look towards editing your work. One of the best ways she suggests is to take our writings to our friends or writing group. Just find those pieces which have energy in them, be honest to yourself and omit those which have no energy. You can always write new things, instead of being critical of your own work and trying to make those pieces better which have no energy, start writing new ones. You are beating only the dead horse if you try to improve those pieces which have no energy in them.

Writing practice is the key for becoming a great writer. It’s like running, the more you do it, the better you get at it. There are times when you don’t want to run, you feel tired. similarly there are times when you don’t want write, again you feel tired or more accurately it is procrastination that is keeping you away from doing what you love doing. This is exactly the time when you should pick your pen up. Do it when both your mind and heart are saying “No” and this is where you can train your mind to cut through resistance. Another obvious question that spring in minds is that forcing ourselves to write when we really don’t want to write will result in writing really bad. It is here Natalie says that write though you feel you are going to write the worst junk in the world. “Write anything” she says “it should be anything, not logical but one that embraces your whole life; mix the dream of your grandmother with astounding cloud outside your window”

It is important to have absolute trust in the process of writing, describing her personal experiences she tells that how she had a five feet pile of notebooks, all full of junk at her home. They were all full of stuff of self pity and once while she was away from home for week or two her neighbour upstairs went through the pile. When she was back home her neighbour told her that she has been through all her note books and much to her amazement she found that all her notebooks were full of shit, “but one thing” her neighbour continued “I found is that you have an absolute trust in this process of writing junk and thing that is self evident from your writing is that you forced yourself to write when you didn’t want to write”.

Natalie further says, one must not be choosy about topics, as writing is everything unconditional. We must not be cynical in choosing topics, choosing only those we think we can write or the one that make sense. It is not about delicately picking up from candies but voraciously letting our minds eat everything and spewing it all on paper. A good example she gives is of learning about an article which described a man eating car in India. “This is not logical neither sensible” she says “that a man can eat car like eating gear box, steering wheel, wire and wheels but such topics help us open different untouched realms in our minds”. She gives another good example of Russell Edson at university of Minnesota who write on anything that comes in his mind and his topics were; a man wanted an aeroplane to like him, a husband and wife discover that their children are fake; a beloved duck gets cooked by mistake.

A writer job she says is to revisit, while people rush to their homes when it rains or snow, The writer comes out and start enjoying the wet weather, while people around shiver with cold, a writer is completely lost in his surroundings. We must deeply analyze everything around, whether walking, running, driving or strolling in our lawn; watch the traffic lights, the people, the shops, the neighbour’s cat searching for mouse. These are the things which can be our topics the writer job is not to write about the big things, but to write about ordinary things that we as humans normally don’t see or ignore in our daily lives

Writer must stop seeing the world from his eyes only; it’s not just looking at dog and then to start writing about it. Start seeing the world from others perspective, it cannot be only you looking at dog but it can be dog looking at you and how he sees the world. Being aware of our surroundings mean recognizing the things that are with us, when in room alone we are not alone, there is writing table, computer, fridge, microwave, windows everything all these things make an environment.

She in later chapters describes the importance of passion in writing and says writing is something that should come from your heart, when you make a cake there are ingredients sugar, flour, butter, eggs and milk. You put them in bowl and mix them up and that doesn’t make a cake, but a goop. You put it in oven and add heat or energy to make it a cake, so when it comes out it looks nothing like its original ingredients. So writer job is to put the heat and energy of heart and once you do it your writing will turn into something splendid, the one that you will be amazed to see.

Natalie Goldberg book is a fantastic piece for beginners learning to write and those exploring their inner realms further. It gives an insight of bringing our true selves on paper and writing what we truly want to write from our heart and mind. The writer of book is an author of ten books and “Writing down the bones” her first has sold over million copies and has been translated into our twelve languages. It is a must read for anyone who has passion for writing and a useful kit for bringing more originality in our writings.


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Comments (1)

Very interesting. Voted up