Here to Create

We are here to create not merely survive.

Writing Down the Bones

Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg

Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg is a beloved classic of writing.

I love Writing Down the Bones not as much for the wisdom it imparts, but for the way it consistently rekindles my enthusiasm when I feel the writing part of me gasping for air. It’s my secret weapon, something I use when even the ideas I mentioned in 10 Tips to Hold on to the Enthusiasm don’t work. Like many life-giving drugs, the effects of Bones are diluted when overused. I go a whole year, sometimes, between readings. When I’ve almost forgotten the details, I crack it open and all the joy of writing comes pouring out. I can only read a chapter, or at most two, before my hair stands on end, I seize a notebook, and I write.

Writing Down the Bones is my favorite writing book not because it teaches me how to write – there are many books that do this more specifically – but because it makes me want to write. It may be immodest to say so, but I think my biggest challenge with writing is overcoming inertia, not a lack of talent. I say this partly because I don’t believe that talent is something inborn. Rather, talent is created through observation and practice. So in that sense, Bones teaches me how to write by encouraging me to learn through practice.

Many other writing books seem to emphasize the great difficulties of being a writer. I’ve often wondered if some of these books are trying to thin the herd of aspiring writers rather than lead them to the waterhole. Natalie never denies that writing is difficult, but I feel strengthened by the simplicity of her message – just write. Writing may be a difficult task, but that doesn’t mean I can’t do it.

Not only do the lessons in Bones – write, write, and write some more – inspire me, I’ve also learned from Natalie’s style. When my writing is at its best it is reminiscent of Natalie Goldberg’s – filled to the brim with images and simple in way that revels authenticity.

Other books by Natalie Goldberg that I have read and enjoyed:

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One Simple Productivity Secret

No distractionsWhat would you say if I claimed to have found a way to increase my writing productivity ten-fold? You’d probably think I was trying to sell something. Well, I’m not really. I’ve just had my writing really take off lately and I’m hoping this tip will help someone else.

Write on a computer that’s not connected to the Internet.

Too simple? Of course, that’s why it works. My epiphany came when I installed Ubuntu on my fiance’s old computer and then couldn’t get the network connection to work. I was annoyed at first; we’d wanted another working computer partly because we’re always begging each other for the computer that contains the crack that is the Internet.

But then I decided I might as well input my preliminary notes for the story idea I’d just had using the non-Internet laptop. And when I was done with the notes, I kept writing. I don’t know how long it was. I just knew that every time I got that itch to check my email, or my blog reader, or a forum – I couldn’t. And it wasn’t that big a deal to refocus and keep writing. I’ve been doing most of my writing on the laptop since.

What this really means, of course, is that I identified my single biggest distraction and eliminated it. Your distraction might not be the Internet. Maybe you can’t listen to music with lyrics, but instrumental music is fine. Maybe you have kids pestering you and need to go somewhere – the library maybe – where no one will tug on your sleeve every five minutes. Maybe you need a separate art or craft room where you can shut the door on your distractions for a few hours.

Take a few minutes to consider what holds you back when you want to create and try to think of some ways to regain your focus by eliminating distractions.

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