Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg, is a must-have for writers.
I love the analogy that Goldberg makes between writing and 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 way, but you do it anyway. Writing must be like this
for you too. Just like in running, if you wait around for inspiration and a deep desire to write, it’ll never happen. You train
the mind to cut through the resistance. And when you’re in the middle of a run or a writing, you love it. Then you come to the end and don’t want to stop. And when you stop, you’re hungry for the next time.
Her rules for timed writing practice are simple.
- Keep your hand moving. (Don’t reread what you’ve written. That is a stall tactic and an effort to maintain control.)
- Don’t cross out. (No editing allowed during writing practice.)
- Don’t worry about spelling, punctuation, or grammar. (Staying between margins and the lines is likewise unimportant.)
- Lose control.
- Don’t think.
- Go for the jugular. (If something comes up that is scary or raw, dive right in. It’ll probably sizzle with energy.)
The purpose is to get to the place where you’re writing what your mind actually sees and feels, not what it thinks it should see and feel. The goal is to separate the creator from the internal censor.
Wild Mind by Natalie Goldberg
Wild mind could also be called the unconscious, but it is so much more than that, according to Goldberg. Good writers have to be comfortable in wild mind and even be able to hang out there on occasion. Wild Mind helps you get there.
When I read about the wild mind concept, I made a connection to something I heard acclaimed author Anne Rivers Siddons say. In talking about the idea for her book, King’s Oak, Siddons said she saw the horrible things we were doing to our earth. A major character in the book, woodsman Tom Dabney, is based on a real person who goes to war against a nuclear arms plant. King’s Oak was born from her conviction that, “We must find a way not to lose the wild.” Siddons went on to say that we have to hold on to both the wild outside and inside. This is where books come from: ‘the wild within us.’