Monday, September 12, 2011

Wild Mind by Natalie Goldberg

When Natalie Goldberg finished Writing Down the Bones, she thought she had said all she had to say on the subject of writing. It is our good fortune as writers that she was mistaken. The focus in Goldberg's new book, Wild Mind, is writing practice, finding time to write, breaking through procrastination and mental blocks, finding the gems buried in what Ms. Goldberg calls the wild mind, something larger than the unconscious that encompasses the whole of life, nature, and experience.

In her short chapters, overflowing with examples and her own experiences, Goldberg encourages ten-minute spurts of "writing practice" to help writers find that "quiet place in us below our hip personality that is connected to our breath, our words..." Chapter after chapter ends with timed prompts for dipping into that quiet place. Phrases like "I'm thinking of," "I know/don't know," and "I remember." Write about something that's hard for you to talk about. Write the rebellion you feel. Stop in the middle of your sentence and write--"What I really want to say is..."

She talks about failure, about being lazy, about writing her first novel. She opens her own struggles with the writing life for us to view, to take solace in, and then goes on to give us the tools to move beyond those dilemmas in our own writing life. 

Ms. Goldberg is open with her life experiences and her Zen Buddhist beliefs. While you may not embrace her philosophy of life, she is an extraordinary writer with much to offer those of us walking beneath the "big sky" with a pen in our hand. 

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