Review: Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg

The Blurb

With insight, humor, and practicality, Natalie Goldberg inspires writers and would-be writers to take the leap into writing skillfully and creatively. She offers suggestions, encouragement, and solid advice on many aspects of the writer’s craft: on writing from “first thoughts” (keep your hand moving, don’t cross out, just get it on paper), on listening (writing is ninety percent listening; the deeper you listen, the better you write), on using verbs (verbs provide the energy of the sentence), on overcoming doubts (doubt is torture; don’t listen to it)—even on choosing a restaurant in which to write.  Goldberg sees writing as a practice that helps writers comprehend the value of their lives. The advice in her book, provided in short, easy-to-read chapters with titles that reflect the author’s witty approach (“Writing Is Not a McDonald’s Hamburger,” “Man Eats Car,” “Be an Animal”), will inspire anyone who writes—or who longs to.

The Review

I was advised to read Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg ahead of attending a writing course in July 2015. As a writer in training I always love reading how people approach the task of novel writing; usually it is the same advice – just write – but sometimes you get a small nugget of new advice or even just the creative juices start to flow.

I did not feel this with the majority of chapters in Writing Down the Bones. Yes, it is a little dated (it is nearly thirty years old) and sure, in 1986 things were different to how they are now but I just found the book to be a little bit hippy-dippy for my liking. It was too exploratory for the kind of writing I want to do.

No time during or after reading did I feel like I wanted to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard to get a story written. In the end I was passively reading the chapters just to get to the end of the book.

I’m sure other writers may find this book useful. However, I did not.

Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg is available now.

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