Thursday, November 18, 2010

Natalie Goldberg: Working Through Writer's Block

Hello writers!

Today I unearthed a favorite "how to write" book I bought almost a year ago. It's called Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg. Leafing through the pages, I came across a chapter entitled "composting." In this chapter, Goldberg describes an experience that is very familiar to me, as I am sure that it is for you. She describes the difficulty that is often inherent in writing about things you are feeling or experiencing in your life currently. She gives a few examples:

"'s hard to write about being in love in the midst of a mad affair. We have no perspective. All we can say is, 'I'm madly in love,' over and over again. It is also hard to write about a city we've just moved to; it's not yet in our body. We don't know our new home, even if we can drive to the drugstore without getting lost."

We've all had this experience as eager writers and poets, and it can be frustrating, especially when we're trying to write about something that we feel is profound and needs to be written. Goldberg says it takes patience. Sometimes we simply need to give our experiences time to "crawl inside us, twist and cry," to quote the Shins. Goldberg also says that writers need determination. Continue to try and capture your thoughts, no matter how disparate the writing may seem at first. Try multiple times to write "it," whatever "it" may be. Examine that person, place, object, or emotion from as many angles as you can. Each new attempt will yeild somthing slightly different, as our memories frequently modify the past. Working through this process can, and often does produce the focus and clarity that you need to write effectively about those things which were most difficult for you to consciously access in the beginning.

"We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down." Vonnegut



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