Throwback Thursday (11/08/12)

Throwback Thursday is a weekly meme hosted by The Housework Can Wait and Never Too Fond of Books!

Noting that book blogging onften focuses on new releases, here’s how Throwback Thursday works:

  1. Pick a book released more than 5 years ago.
  2. Write up a short summary of the book (include the title, author, and cover art) and an explanation of why you love it.
  3. Link up your post at The Housework Can Wait or Never Too Fond of Books.
  4. Visit as many blogs as you can, reminisce about books you loved, and discover some “new” books for your TBR list!

Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg

In honor of National Novel Writing Month, I’m going to feature four great writing books for Throwback Thursdays in November. The first up is probably the first book I ever read about writing.

Writing wasn’t the thing I came naturally to. I love science and, in high school, I moved from wanting to be a veterinarian to wanting to be a molecular biologist. In the meantime, I read a lot and made up the occasional story. By my freshman year in college, I knew I wanted to continue writing, but figured it could be a hobby. I managed to jam an advanced composition class into my filled-with-science-classes schedule and wrote a short story in the days between moving in the dorms and classes starting. (I also read Hamlet during those few days. My roommate didn’t believe that it wasn’t required for a class. Likewise, the first time my mom called my dorm room after dark and couldn’t reach me, I was at the library. I was hopeless from the beginning.)

That comp class was taught by a woman named Judy Levin. The core text was Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones. The semester assignment was to write, long hand, one notebook page a day. The daily writings could be anything. Response to the text, a random musing, a poem, a story, a what-I-did-on-my-summer-vacation. Anything. While I hadn’t ever journaled before, this was a ridiculously easy assignment for me.

Which brings me to Natalie Goldberg and Writing Done the Bones. The whole crux of this book is Goldberg’s philosophy of free writing. Free writing is the discipline of writing every day, for a certain amount of time about…anything. To just write. Some of it might be good, most of it will probably suck, but as a writer, you can take the good stuff and use it when you need it. Details  and themes emerge when you free write. Raw things from uncomfortable places. At best, free writing should loosen creativity. At worst, it’s psychotherapy on paper.

There’s good stuff for the non-writer too (although it might be debatable if Natalie Goldberg would consider anyone a non-writer). One of my very favorite quotes by Goldberg  is “In the midst of chaos, make one definite act.” Words I don’t live by often enough.

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