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Natalie Goldberg’s Rules for First-Draft Writing: “Give the paper the colorful coleslaw of your consciousness.”

Monday, May 5, 2014

Excerpt From Chapter 2 “First Thoughts” in Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg

Writing Down the Bones

1. Keep your hand moving. (Don’t pause to reread what you have just written. That’s stalling and trying to get control of what you’re saying.)

2. Don’t cross out. (That is editing as you write. Even if you write something you didn’t mean to write, leave it.)

3. Don’t worry about spelling, punctuation, grammar. (Don’t even care about staying within the margins and lines on the page.)

4. Lose control.

5. Don’t think. Don’t get logical.

6. Go for the jugular. (If something comes up in your writing that is scary or naked, dive right into it. It probably has lots of energy.)

These are the rules. It is important to adhere to them because the aim is to burn through to first thoughts, to the place where energy is unobstructed by social politeness or the internal censor, to the place where you are writing what your mind actually sees and feels, not what it thinks it should see or feel. It’s a great opportunity to capture the oddities of your mind. Explore the rugged edge of thought. Like grating a carrot, give the paper the colorful coleslaw of your consciousness.

(quoted from pgs. 8–9)

About the book:
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 practices, “it is backed by two thousand years of studying the mind.”

Work Cited:

Goldberg, Natalie. Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within. Boston, MA: Shambhala Publications, Inc., 1986. Print.

  1. Monday, May 5, 2014 1:33 pm

    Natalie is a genius!!


  2. Daphne permalink
    Monday, May 5, 2014 3:09 pm

    Great advice and all contrary to my personality!!! I’m sure if I could manage to do that through one novel it would be life changing. Need prayers to accomplish this feat.

    Daphne Woodall


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