Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Thursday Thirteen 113: Writing Down the Bones

I've mentioned a couple of times that I had recently read Natalie Goldberg's Writing Down the Bones. Here are a few words of inspiration from that book, some of which can be applied to life as equally as they can writing.

1. Every moment is different. Different things work. One isn’t wrong and the other right.

2. Explore the rugged edges of thought. Like grating a carrot, give the paper the colorful coleslaw of your consciousness.

3. If every time you sat down, you expected something great, writing would always be a great disappointment.

4. Every minute we change. It is a great opportunity. At any point, we can step out of our frozen selves and our ideas and begin fresh. That is how writing is. Instead of freezing us, it frees us.

5. Writing is not a McDonald’s hamburger. The cooking is slow, and in the beginning you are not sure whether a roast or a banquet or a lamb chop will be the result.

6. We’re always thinking we should be writing no matter what else we might be doing. It’s not fun. The life of an artist isn’t easy. You’re never free unless you are doing your art.

7. We must remember that everything is ordinary and extraordinary. It is our minds that either open or close. Details are not good or bad. They are details.

8. Writing, too, is ninety percent listening. You listen so deeply to the space around you that it fills you, and when you write, it pours out of you. If you can capture that reality around you, your writing needs nothing else.

9. So writing is not just writing. It is also having a relationship with other writers. And don’t be jealous, especially secretly. That’s the worst kind. If someone writes something great, it’s more clarity in the world for all of us. Don’t make writers “other,” different from you: “They are good and I am bad.” Don’t create that dichotomy. It makes it hard to become good if you create that duality. The opposite, of course, is also true: if you say, “I am great and they aren’t,” then you become too proud, unable to grow as a writer or hear criticism of your work. Just: “They are good and I am good.” That statement gives a lot of space.

10. We build on what came before us, even if our writing is a reaction to it or we try to negate the past. We still write with the knowledge of what’s at our backs.

11. I don’t fear being lost. If I am lost, I am lost. That is all. I look on my map and find my way. I even like to wander the streets…not particularly knowing where I am.

12. 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 definite act. Just write. Say yes, stay alive, be awake. Just write. Just write. Just write.

13. We have an idea that success is a happy occasion. Success can also be lonely, isolating, disappointing. It makes sense that it is everything. Give yourself the space to feel whatever you feel, and don’t feel as though you shouldn’t have a wide range of emotions.

(Please leave your link if this is your first visit!)

Janice Seagraves * Alexia Reed * Alice Audrey * Cass
Stephanie Adkins * Adelle Laudan * Shelley Munro
AD * Harriet * Paige Tyler * Chris * Inez Kelley
Jamie Babette * Jennifer McKenzie * Colleen
Mary Quast * Storyteller * Ita Jeff

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others’ comments. It’s easy, and fun! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things.


Midnight Moon Cafe said...

Oh this is good stuff! ((hugs)) for posting it.

We don't have a T13 up today because its a Midnight Brew Thursday and our guest is Georgia Evans, author of the new book Bloody Good. :) Stop by and check it out.


Adelle Laudan said...

Number 12 should be read aloud each morning. Great list! Happy T13!

Shelley Munro said...

I liked #5. Great list.

Alice Audrey said...

I once had a non-writing friend explain to me that all books exited on some alternate universe before they are written and that all a writer does is try to bring that book - in is exact, pre-exiting form, into this world. I was never so offended, especially when he didn't want to hear anything about my process and why I didn't believe him.

AD said...

number 4 is my quote for the day!


Click Here For My Thursday-13

I am Harriet said...

Great tips!
Happy TT!

Stephanie Adkins said...

Great list! Happy Thursday!

Paige Tyler said...

Great TT!


My TT is at

Heather said...

Cass - Thanks, glad you like!

Adelle - Very affirming, isn't it?

Shelley - That is a good one, isn't it? And, as I said in the intro, equally applicablee to life as well as writing.

AD - Thank you, I'm glad you like it!

Heather said...

Alice - Non-writers never get it. It's a sad fact, but true. Artists in general are a different entity altogether. ;)

Harriet, Stephanie, Paige - Thank you all for stopping by!

Chris said...

good stuff... happy TT!

Heather said...

Thanks, Chris. Happy T13!

colleen said...

The best tip I know that works for me is to drop everything and take notes when the muse starts talking. And also, don't hold back as if you need to save your writing, go for the best every time. There is more where that comes from.

Jennifer McKenzie said...

We’re always thinking we should be writing no matter what else we might be doing. It’s not fun. The life of an artist isn’t easy. You’re never free unless you are doing your art.

Ain't it the truth.
These are great, Heather.

Inez Kelley said...

I can't pick a fave. THey are all so true.

Heather said...

Colleen - Excellent advice. Thanks for visiting!

Jennifer - Definitely the truth. I was with some friends last Saturday and at one point in conversation I wished I could pull out my journal and jot down notes to remember what we were discussing later...but probably would have been shoved out into the heat if I had. LOL

Inez - Thank you, I'm glad you enjoyed!

i beati said...

excellent rules to write by sandy

storyteller said...

I do so love Natalie Goldberg's take on writing ... and on life! Reading through your list makes me WANT to carve out time to write again even as I'm focused mostly on photography these days. Thanks ;--)
Hugs and blessings,

Mary Quast said...

#6 is soooo me right now.
Awesome list!


Heather said...

Beati - Thanks!

Storyteller - No reason you can't combine writing and photography. *VBG*

Mary - Thank back to your writing! ;)

Itajeff @Something To Share said...

What a great list. Happy TT. This is my 1st visit, you have a wonderful blog, love it.

Lots of luv,

Anonymous said...

I loved reading Writing Down the Bones. I need to remember to get away from the computer and take my notebook and pen to a change of place.
Happy T131

Janice said...

What a great list and great advice too.

Happy TT.

Heather said...

Ita - Thank you, and thanks for visiting!

Jamie - I always carry notebook/journal with me. One never knows when and where inspiration will hit!

Janice - Thanks sweetie!

Alexia Reed said...

Oh this is great! Thanks for posting it! I need to keep all of this in mind.

Alice Audrey said...

I got all moved. If you go to the old site it'll still be there, but now I'm at

Heather said...

Alice - Thanks, changed the link in my GR last night! ;)