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Sunday, September 16, 2007


"The aim of writing practice is to burn through to first thoughts, to the place where energy is unobstructed by social politeness or the internal censor, to the place where you are writing what your mind actually sees and feels, not what it thinks it should see and feel."
Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones

"Writing practice is simply something fundamental, like the colors black and white or moving one foot in front of the other when you walk. The problem is we don't notice that movement of one foot in front of the other. We just move our feet. Writing practice asks you to notice not only how your feet move but also how your mind moves. And not only that, it makes you notice your mind and begin to trust it and understand it. This is good. It is basic for writing. If you can do this, you can do what you want. You are now capable of writing a novel or a short story because you have the fundamental tools." Natalie Goldberg, Wild Mind

Introduction to Writing Practice

I was originally introduced to writing practice by reading Natalie Goldberg's book, Writing Down the Bones. This book changed the way I viewed writing and gave me permission to write, even when what I was writing really did feel like the "worst junk in America." Writing had always been a treasured part of my life; Natalie's way made it even more sacred. Two summers ago, I signed up for her five day writing workshop in Taos, New Mexico. It was an experience that solidified my love for writing and introduced me to a whole community of people who valued writing as much as I did. This past summer, I returned to Taos, this time for a writing retreat, the majority of which was in silence. I've learned that writing is something I can't not do. It's a part of me. I am so very grateful to Natalie for giving me the gift of her words and her teachings.

*Writing practice is about getting out of the way so that writing does writing. It's about getting the words down before monkey mind, the internal censor, has a chance to jump in and stop us in our tracks. Writing practice is raw, uncensored and free. It's not about good vs. bad or creating a polished, finished product. There is tremendous freedom in this kind of writing. It helps us learn to trust ourselves-to find our voice- not only as writers but as people. Once you have this kind of freedom that writing practice offers, you can apply it to any form of writing.

How to Begin

Pick up your favorite fast-writing pen and a spiral notebook. Select a topic, a prompt, a word, or simply start writing from what's directly in front of you. Set a time limit. Ten minutes works nicely but often if you write for longer, you tend to go deeper. Then GO, keep your hand moving until the time is up.

Writing Practice "Rules" developed by author, Natalie Goldberg, in Writing Down the Bones.

*Keep your hand moving. Don’t stop until the time is up.
*No editing! Don't worry about spelling, punctuation or grammar.
*Lose control. Don't think. Stay with first thoughts; this is where the energy is.
*Be specific. Not fruit, but orange. Not tree, but Cottonwood.
*You are free to write the worst junk in America.
*Go for the jugular. If something scary comes up, go for it.

**Please note: When you see the term Practice as the title of a post, this indicates that what is written came out during timed writing practice. Other than spell check, it will be posted as it came out, in its raw, unedited form. I will include the prompt that began the writing, as well as the amount of time in which it was written.


When we do writing practice in person, we do not comment or give feedback. While the writer is reading aloud, we simply practice deep listening. Occasionally, we do what is called a recall. This is a repeating of specific words or phrases that resonated with or stuck with us. We do not indicate if we liked or disliked the writing but try to recall what grabbed us, sticking as closely to the exact wording as we can.

1 comment :

What are you thinking/feeling? I'd really love to know...

♥ Julia