Saturday Starter: Writing Down the Bones #9

Saturday, Mar 25, 2017
Local Writers

What is your first memory?

School Library Journal calls Natalie Goldberg's Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within part writing guide, part Zen philosophy, and part personal diary. It is composed of 65 short "chapters" with titles like "Obsessions," "Listening," and "Use Loneliness," each a meditation on how to tap into who you are and how to tell your stories. Compared to most writing guides, there is very little direct instruction about grammar, plotting, and the mechanics of storytelling--though it does include thoughts about them--and each chapter can be read independent of the rest. It is, first and foremost, a guide on how to create connections through writing. How to express meaningfully.

In "A List of Topics for Writing Practice," Goldberg encourages her readers to carry a notebook so they can create their own lists of topics as ideas strike them.

Making a list is good. It makes you start noticing material for writing in your daily life, and your writing comes out of a relationship with your life and its texture. In this way, the composting process is beginning. Your body is starting to digest and turn over your material, so even when you are not actually at the desk physically writing, there are parts of you raking, fertilizing, taking in the sun's heat, and making ready for the deep green plants of writing to grow.

If you give your mind too much time to contemplate a beginning when you sit down to write, your monkey mind might meander over many topics and never quite get to putting a word on the page. So the list also helps to activate your writing quickly and cut through resistance. Naturally, once you begin writing you might be surprised where your mind takes the topic. That's good. You are not trying to control your writing. You are stepping out of the way. Keep your hand moving.

Then she offers a collection of writing ideas to get readers started until they have their own lists to work from. Today's prompt is one of them.