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Natalie Goldberg on the Practice of Writing: “I am free to write the worst junk in the world.”

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Excerpt From Chapter 3 “Writing as a Practice” in Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg

Writing Down the Bones

This is the practice school of writing. Like running, the more you do it, the better you get at it. Some days you don’t want to run and you resist every step of the three miles, but you do it anyway. You practice whether you want to or not. You don’t wait around for inspiration and a deep desire to run. It’ll never happen, especially if you are out of shape and have been avoiding it. But if you run regularly, you train your mind to cut through or ignore your resistance. You just do it. And in the middle of the run, you love it. When you come to the end, you never want to stop. And you stop, hungry for the next time.

That’s how writing is, too. Once you’re deep into it, you wonder what took you so long to finally settle down at the desk. Through practice you actually do get better. You learn to trust your deep self more and not give in to your voice that wants to avoid writing. It is odd that we never question the feasibility of a football team practicing long hours for one game; yet in writing, we rarely give ourselves the space for practice.

. . . Sit down with the least expectation of yourself; say, “I am free to write the worst junk in the world.” You have to give yourself the space to write without a destination.

(quoted from pg. 11, emphasis mine)

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.”

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Work Cited:

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

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