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Wild Mind: Living the Writer's Life by…
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Wild Mind: Living the Writer's Life (1990)

by Natalie Goldberg

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This morning, I read five chapters and finished Wild Mind. I was immersed in Natalie Goldberg's writing. I love this woman. Her writing is rich and beautiful.She is really a gifted writer. Each chapter brought to life an analogy or personal reflection. I enjoyed gleaning the nuggets she shared throughout the book.

I'm eager to start her first book called Writing Down The Bones.

Wild Mind by Natalie Goldberg is a great book which I highly recommend to all writers on any level. There is something for everyone in this book.

To read more of this review, please visit http://www.ordinaryservant.com/?p=1077
  pvarsenec | Sep 20, 2012 |
Natalie Goldberg's Writing Down The Bones, has been sitting on my shelf for a while, started but not finished. There were so many references to Zen Buddhism and Ms. Goldberg's Zen teacher that she lost me before even really capturing my interest so I never got very far. This volume started out the same way but since I got it from NetGalley I felt obligated to review it and so kept reading. I'm glad I did because there is a lot of very good advice in it, such as to slow down and notice things we don't usually notice, to write regularly and no matter what, to learn to differentiate between procrastination and productive waiting, to remember that our writing isn't who we are and to live a life outside of it too and Ms. Goldberg's personal motto of "Shut up and write".
I really enjoyed her 7 rules of writing practice which are essentially what every other writer tells you to do: keep your hand moving, lose control, be specific, don't think, don't worry about punctuation, spelling or grammar, you're free to write junk and go for the jugular. I liked the chapters on writing the truth and what to do with it if by publishing it you'll hurt your loved ones, on the value of reading your writing aloud and on cutting through all the extraneous noise to the heart of the matter. There were a lot of personal examples which kept me interested because I felt that the author was a real person, not some abstract entity who I knew nothing about (which is actually one of Natalie's recommendations to writers) and there were plenty of exercises to try and I've actually jotted down quite a few to use myself.
This book isn't only about writing, a lot of the things covered in it are about life and the challenges a writer, and any other person, faces every day. The chapters on stepping forward with your life, living your life for yourself and not for someone else, and making a positive effort are like that and I liked that they were included.
As you see there are a lot of good things about this book but when I turned the last page and thought about it I felt overwhelmed. There didn't seem to be a particular rhyme or reason to the order in which the chapters appeared. Moreover, pretty much every chapter felt like Ms. Goldberg sat down for her writing practice, gave herself a topic and said "Go". Setting one's wild mind free is wonderful for being creative and authentic but if the first word that comes to mind when one thinks about the resulting work is "scatterbrained" I think some editing is in order. ( )
  bolgai | Dec 20, 2011 |
What an incredible book! This lady really makes you want to pick up a pen and write. She also makes you think you can actually do it.

Natalie Goldberg obviously loves writing, and this book is not just about 'how to' - it takes the reader through all the ups and downs of a writing career which creates fascinating insights into philosophy, dedication and sacrifice.

The great thing about this book is the fact that Natalie does not 'teach' you how to write but gives you the knowledge to teach yourself via writing practice. Now where's my pen? ( )
  Heptonj | Oct 14, 2011 |
My acquaintance with creative writing is passing at best, but I do sometimes read how-to books to try and get excited about it again. Natalie Goldberg was recommended to me by a favourite creative writing teacher on one of my writing re-lapses, so to speak, but unfortunately this book had very little to give to me.

I found Goldberg's ideas vague and idealistic and have serious doubts about taking advice from her. She never defines her terms, for one thing. What kind of a "Writer's Life" are we talking about here? Who qualifies as a writer? What is the purpose of writing? What does the book aim to do? I finished the book but I don't really know Goldberg's answers to any of these questions. I do know they're different from my own. I don't think anyone who can produce words on a piece of paper for a set amount of time (without once raising the tip!) qualifies as a writer. Call me a romantic, but I just don't think it's enough. I also have a hard time trying to reconcile my idea of writing being an innate talent with Goldberg's method. I understand that practice makes perfect, but at some point you just have to face facts: if you need to resort to tricking yourself into practice sessions and even then all you can do is describe the table in front of you, maybe you should take up a new hobby.

Which leads to my other question - do we write because it helps us develop as persons, because we want to be successful authors, because we can't help it or simply because it's fun? Goldberg says we write because we want to, which is rather like saying god created everything. Then who created god and why do we want to write? Goldberg scoffs at therapeutic writing (as well as keeping a diary), but I feel it's actually closest to what she's trying to advocate. She talks at length about the mind and how it can and should be explored to the extent where she and her life philosophy start to sound incredibly self-indulgent. There's a telling chapter where she reminisces about how surprised she was to discover other people are unused to scouring their souls and pouring out their feelings on paper. I think it's bordering on unhealthy. If you need an outlet and want to write, that's fine, but don't call it "a writer's life".

Overall, this book had too scanty of a smattering of actual substance matter and way, way too thick a layer of touchy-feely zen stuff to make it meaningful to me in any way. As I also happened to think most of said substance matter well-meaning BS, there's not much to recommend Wild Mind to anyone at all. ( )
  MaidMeri | Feb 21, 2010 |
She's terrific. Her advice will hold up as long as sentences are relevant to human communication. Interestingly, her punchy style was developed long hand - pen on paper - but a generation later is the perfect recipe for bloggers in our ADD age. ( )
  condensate | Jan 5, 2010 |
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For Virginia Maclovia, my old Talpa friend
and Carol Souter, my traveling partner
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For fifteen years now, at the beginning of every writing workshop, I have repeated the rules for writing practice.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0553347756, Paperback)

Natalie Goldberg, author of the bestselling  Writing Down The Bones, teaches a method  of writing that can take you beyond craft to the  true source of creative power: The mind that is  "raw, full of energy, alive and  hungry."



Here is compassionate, practical, and often  humorous advice about how to find time to write,  how to discover your personal style, how to make  sentences come alive, and how to overcome  procrastination and writer's block -- including more than  thirty provocative "Try this" exercises to  get your pen moving.



And here also  is a larger vision of the writer's task:  balancing daily responsibilities with a commitment to  writing; knowing when to take risks as a writer and a  human being; coming to terms with success and  failure and loss; and learning self-acceptance -- both  in life and art.



Wild  Mind will change your way of writing. It  may also change your life.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:04:41 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

A collection of essays on life as a writer urges aspirants to the craft to take chances, learn self-acceptance, and make a daily commitment to writing.

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