Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer…

Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within (Shambhala Library) (original 1986; edition 2010)

by Natalie Goldberg

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,827521,349 (4.04)60
Title:Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within (Shambhala Library)
Authors:Natalie Goldberg
Info:Shambhala (2010), Edition: 1 Expanded, Hardcover, 288 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg (1986)

  1. 20
    On Writing by Stephen King (VictoriaPL)
  2. 10
    If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit by Brenda Ueland (Z-Ryan)
  3. 00
    Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind by Shunryu Suzuki (sturlington)
    sturlington: Goldberg is a practicing Buddhist. Her book references this one, and both are structured in a similar way and focus on the concept of practice.

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 60 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 52 (next | show all)
A great book for especially beginner writers. ( )
  Greymowser | Jan 22, 2016 |
What does Zen Buddhism have to do with writing? Natalie Goldberg asked the same question of her roshi (Zen Master). She had gravitated toward Zen mediation for self-discovery and to process the things in her life that were at loose ends. But she had a difficult time with meditation. The rosit suggested that she use writing as a Zen practice. The world opened up for Goldberg in a surprising way with the suggestion.

[Writing Down the Bones] is part prompt book, part philosophy, and part journal. Goldberg uses two to four pages to tackle a topic that would be important to a writer – like detail or syntax or topic. Then, she launches into an encouraging and instructive meditation on the topic. Her advice is common sense and not at all yogic, if you’re worried that you don’t want to have to grab a mat and light a candle. It’s writing and life that she wants to expose in each reader’s soul.

Among the most helpful sections were those on learning how to develop confidence and trust in the writing ability. Every writer, almost by definition, is plagued with self-doubt, but she preaches to embrace the practice of writing with regard only for what you express and what you learn about yourself in the process. Like David Morrell did, in [Lessons from a Lifetime of Writing: A Novelist Looks at His Craft], she sees writing as a doorway to self-understanding and discovery – you only have to engage the practice.

I can’t recommend this book highly enough for anyone who is already writing or who wants to write. I gifted a copy to a writing friend this Christmas, in hopes that it would mean as much to him as it has to me. Sometimes I read a few pages as a way to get in the right mindset to write. Sometimes the section I read spoke directly to the doubts I was having that very minute. [Writing Down the Bones] is an invaluable resource.

Bottom Line: The writing life, and life in general, through a Zen Buddhist lens.

5 bones!!!!!
A favorite for the year!!!!! ( )
  blackdogbooks | Dec 23, 2015 |
Excellent out-of-the-box prompts ( )
  haikupatriot | Nov 18, 2015 |
This is one of the looser writing books that I've actually enjoyed. It's not very technical, it doesn't address sentence structure or story arc, but it's also not too flowery and feelings-focused. It's a very straight-forward mix of the two, with short chapters that made it easy for you to pause and write as inspiration struck - and it did. Goldberg isn't overbearing in her instructions, but hearing her tell you that you must write if you're a writer really kicks your ass into gear. Some favorite sections of mine:

     "Writing is a path to meet ourselves and become intimate. Think about it: Ants don't do it. Trees don't. Not even the thoroughbred horses, mountain elk, house cats, grass, or rocks do it. Writing is a uniquely human activity. It might even be built into our DNA."

     "A friend once told me: 'Trust in love and it will take you where you need to go.' I want to add, 'Trust in what you love, continue to do it, and it will take you where you need to go.'"

     Her instructions on writing: 1. Keep your hand moving. 2. Don't cross out. 3. Don't worry about spelling, punctuation, grammar. 4. Lose control. 5. Don't think. Don't get logical. 6. Go for the jugular.

     "We think our words are permanent and solid and stamp us forever. That's not true. We write in the moment. Every minute we change. 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."

     "Basically, if you want to become a good writer, you need to do three things. Read a lot, listen well and deeply, and write a lot. And don't think too much. Just enter the heat of words and sounds and colored sensations and keep your pen moving across the page."

     "Writing is not psychology. We do not talk 'about' feelings. Instead the writer feels and through her words awakens those feelings in the reader. The writer takes the reader's hand and guides him through the valley of sorrow and joy without ever having to mention those words."

     "When you are not writing, you are a writer too. … If you are a writer when writing, you also are a writer when you are cooking, sleeping, walking."

     "I write because there are stories that people have forgotten to tell, because I am a woman trying to stand up in my life. I write because to form a word with your lips and tongue or think a thing and then dare to write it down so you can never take it back is the most powerful thing I know."

     "I write out of total incomprehension that even love isn't enough and that finally writing might be all I have and that isn't enough. I can never get it all down, and besides, there are times when I have to step away from the table, notebook, and turn to face my own life. Then there are times when it's only coming to the notebook that I truly do face my own life." ( )
  howifeelaboutbooks | Nov 4, 2015 |
I read maybe half of this ( )
  BakuDreamer | Sep 7, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 52 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
For all my students past, present, and future and for Kate Green and Barbara Schmitz.

May we all meet in heaven cafe writing for eternity.
First words

Some years ago, while cleaning out my grandmother's attic, I came across this motto encased in an old oak picture frame: Do Your Work As Well As You Can and Be Kind.

I was a goody-two-shoes all through school.
This is why it is good to remember: if you want to get high, don’t drink whiskey; read Shakespeare, Tennyson, Keats, Neruda, Hopkins, Millay, Whitman, aloud and let your body sing.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0877733759, Paperback)

Wherein we discover that many of the "rules" for good writing and good sex are the same: Keep your hand moving, lose control, and don't think. Goldberg brings a touch of both Zen and well... *eroticism* to her writing practice, the latter in exercises and anecdotes designed to ease you into your body, your whole spirit, while you create, the former in being where you are, working with what you have, and writing from the moment.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:50 -0400)

Offers advice on writing creatively, discusses the importance of discipline, and suggests writing exercises.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 2 descriptions

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
2 avail.
142 wanted
3 pay6 pay

Popular covers


Average: (4.04)
1 7
1.5 3
2 24
2.5 7
3 131
3.5 21
4 249
4.5 21
5 245


5 editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

See editions

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


Help/FAQs | About | Privacy/Terms | Blog | Store | Contact | LibraryThing.com | APIs | WikiThing | Common Knowledge | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | 103,252,846 books! | Top bar: Always visible