A Writing Journey

Posts tagged ‘Natalie Goldberg’

There are No Rules

Pinterest. A great site if you are looking to waste a little (or a lot of) time. Not as great if you are a writer. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got a board of writing inspiration (mostly nature pictures and fantasy pictures) as well as a board just about writing. But there is a dark side to being a writer on Pinterest. The Rules.

I can no longer go on the site without seeing things like “5 things to never do when writing” and “Ways you should never begin your novel” and “5 Mistakes in writing that will make you look like an amateur.”

UGH. I’ve mentioned before my detestation for the so-called “rules” of writing. Yes, there are grammatical guidelines and general structures for a story, but no one should EVER tell you to write in a way that is not true to yourself. If you have a prologue, own it. If you want to start with an alarm going off to wake your character, make it a freaking massive alarm. Write  what YOU want to write, not what someone behind a screen is telling you to do. Especially if it is your first draft (more on that in a moment).

Most of these “rules” come from amateurs themselves or (worse) from established authors who have a system that works for them but doesn’t have to be everyone’s system!

Honestly, there are only two things to remember when writing. And they aren’t rules.

1) Keep your hand moving. This comes from Natalie Goldberg. Look how honest that is. Not “write 380 words a day,” not “you must sell your belongings and live in motels.” No. Just keep your hand moving. Use those ten minutes at the bus stop and write something. She doesn’t tell you how or what to write, just to write.

2) Let first drafts happen. They are going to be rough, imperfect, sometimes even bad. That’s fantastic. It means you have something to work with, something to improve on. Don’t paralyze yourself on the third page thinking “this is crap, I can’t use any of this.” Just go back to number one and use it until the draft is done.

Believe in yourself, folks. Don’t let the writing police scare you away. Write what you want to write.


“Wild Mind” – Truth in Reading

Today I finished reading another book. Or rather, I started and finished another book. Six hours of sitting at a desk waiting for the few phone calls and fewer visitors to the museum calls for reading material. This time it was Wild Mind by Natalie Goldberg. Personally, I liked Writing Down the Bones better, but Wild Mind had some golden nuggets of wisdom as well. For instance

I’ve never met a writer who wanted to be anything else. They might stop for a few months, but those who have bitten down on the true root do not abandon it

This, to me, was probably the most affirming thing I have ever read when it comes to writing and being a writer. Because if I really face the truth, writing is my life. Ever since I was a kid, there was nothing I wanted more than to be a writer. Yes, I flitted to volcanology for a while, or culinary arts, or park ranger, but all the time I came back to writing. What was it that kept driving me away from writing, looking for something else? Doubt. It’s what Goldberg calls the “monkey mind,” the part of us that focuses on the obstacles (I’ll have to pay bills, be rejected by publishers, commit). I didn’t know any writers, and the ones I read as an elementary-aged child did not speak wonders to me. It wasn’t until (I’ve said it before) I read Tamora Pierce’s Lioness Quartet that I found an author or genre that truly spoke to me and encouraged my writing. Even then, I held back because of the difficulty of the task. More than once I put away all of my writing materials and vowed never to write again.

Yet I kept coming back to it. Of course I did. I am a writer, and that is what drives me onward.

Writing is a key part of my life. All I want to be (career wise) is a writer. Yes, I work at a museum now and that does not cause me strife the way my previous job sometimes did. Yes, I expect that I will have to work full-time because writing really isn’t going to pay the bills. But writing will be there, in the chunks and snippets of time I have, writing is what will carry me.

I am a writer.

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