Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Snapshot Book Review: Writing Down the Bones

Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within (Shambhala Pocket Classics)Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It's hard to believe that writing a bunch of useless crap is better than writing nothing at all. In fact, I find it nearly impossible. I want everything I do to have purpose, to have a use. I am efficient. I am economical. I am a perfectionist. If all of my writing consists of stream-of-consciousness ranting, what am I really accomplishing? Maybe I am just confirming the fact that I am incapable of writing anything worthwhile.

All of these thoughts and qualities are what have prevented me from writing anything other than the occasional letter or blog post for the past three years. What's more, the longer I go without writing anything creative, the more I doubt that I can do it. Maybe my past works were flukes. Maybe I've lost my skill to be a captivating writer. Maybe blog writing has eliminated my "writing endurance," and I cannot pursue anything that does not give instant gratification and/or feedback.

Writing Down the Bones directly addresses these types of fears, which keep Type A personalities like me from writing. The book is an instructional manual for "letting go" in order to recapture and harness one's creative self, which sounds too "Zen" to be useful, but which is actually essential to being a productive writer.
I intend to buy this book as a "writer reference manual" so that I can read passages for reassurance and inspiration whenever my "inner critic" tells me my writing sucks and I shouldn't waste my time. Other self-sabotaging writers should consider doing the same.

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