Updated: Mar 17, 2020
Read these 12 quotes from Natalie Goldberg
Writing Down the Bones
If you don’t know Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within, go out and buy a copy today. If you do know it, you’ll be smiling because you remember all the blatantly honest advice and forceful encouragement that you found there. Goldberg’s words still resonate and her first book is a mainstay of a writer’s library. Writing Down the Bones came out in 1986 and was reprinted in 2016 as a special 30-year anniversary edition.
Natalie Goldberg is a writer, teacher, and artist who didn’t know when she was writing it that “…Bones” would change the way the literary world thought about the process of writing.
The subtitle, after all, is “Freeing the Writer Within,” and it does just that. Writing Down the Bones took the teaching of writing from formulaic lessons to a free-form-self-awareness-fight-the-doubt-activity that has inspired both novice and experienced writers for decades.
When I’m feeling discouraged or unsure, I pull that tattered, well-loved little book off my shelf, read a few highlighted quotes, and “Voila!” My writing fire is ignited again.
12 quotes guaranteed to get you going
“Our lives are at once ordinary and mythical.”
“We have lived; our moments are important. This is what it is to be a writer: to be the carriers of details that make up history, to care about the orange booths in the coffee shop in Owatonna.”
“Our task is to say a holy yes to the real things of our life as they exist — the real truth of who we are: several pounds overweight, the gray, cold street outside, the Christmas tinsel in the showcase, the Jewish writer in the orange booth across from her blond friend who has black children…”
“If you want to get high, don’t drink whiskey; read Shakespeare, Tennyson, Keats, Neruda, Hopkins, Millay, Whitman aloud and let your body sing."
“Basically, if you want to become a good writer, you need to do three things: read a lot, listen well and deeply, and write a lot. And don’t think too much. Just enter the heat of words and sounds and colored sensations and keep your pen moving across the page…”
“We [writers] want honest support and encouragement. When we receive it, we don’t believe it, but we are quick to accept criticism to reinforce our deepest beliefs that, in truth, we are no good and not really writers.”
“Start to take your dreams and wishes seriously.”
“Make a list of all the stories you have told over and over…”
“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.”
“Take out another notebook, pick up another pen, and just write, just write, just write. In the middle of the world, make one positive step. In the center of chaos, make one definitive act. Just write. Say yes, stay alive, be awake. Just write. Just write. Just write…”
“Have a tenderness and determination toward your writing, a sense of humor and a deep patience that you are doing the right thing. Avoid getting caught by that small gnawing mouse of doubt. See beyond it to the vastness of life and the belief in time and patience.”
“Step through your resistances right now and write something great. RIGHT NOW. This is a new moment.”
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