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: