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on 28 December 1996
This book helps both experienced and potential writers with
topic ideas and suggestions. Goldberg's clear writing
style is a fantastic model. Some topic ideas she suggests
are to write about a time you were really happy, a place you
really love, a time you were really down, the most
extraordinary story you know, a story you love to tell, or a
magic moment that you remember from last week. She inspires
writers to let their creative juices flow with the following
suggestions: keep your hand moving; don't cross out; don't
worry about spelling, punctuation, grammar; lose control;
don't think; don't get logical; go for the jugular. She
makes it seem easy to write.
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on 28 September 1999
When I finished the book, it amazed me that for someone who doesn't actually teach any formal writing skills or structure, Natalie had had a profound imapct on my writing ability. But that is the beauty of Natalie's 'philosophy of writing'.
She doesn't mention structure or form; characterisation or dialogue. Instead, she takes great pains to 'unlearn' everything you may have heard or been told about writing.
Instead, you learn to trust your own creative voice - learn to seperate the 'creator' within you from the nit-picking 'editor' who wants to strike through every other word.
It is a book offering a way of living as a writer, rather than a book that dictates how to or not to write.
Thoroughly recommended, and it will continue to be an inspiration to read whenever I feel like I'll never pick up a pen again.
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on 22 January 2012
What started Natalie Goldberg off into writing was surprisingly simple for me. One day, in a bookshop, she was idly thumbing through a poetry book and there was a poem about cooking an eggplant.

There was an immediate realization within her that it is possible to write about what you would think to be a mundane subject. And that experience was the start of her successful career as a writer.

In the sixty-four short chapters Natalie manages to to tell her readers about every aspect of her career development, laying down for them a valuable blue print to follow. All this in a humanly style of down-to-earth experience; humor; wins; losses; people in her life and how she learned from them.

I even bought a copy for my granddaughter at the beginning of her second year at university.

Even experienced writers will find gems of inspiring brilliance in the book's two-hundred pages.
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on 15 November 2006
This is an excellent introduction for anyone who's ever wanted to write fiction or poetry but was afraid to start. Its friendly tone, direct advice and focus on freewriting have an unnerving capacity to get you going and its short chapters also make it ideal for dipping into once you've finished. It's also exceedingly well-written; intriguing flashes of autobiography lift it above the mass of creative writing textbooks on the market.

Which isn't to say it's perfect: Goldberg's concentration on generating material means that the twin processes of crafting and drafting are rather neglected in favour of producing more and more freewrites. Anyone wishing to produce work of publishable quality as opposed to writing therapeutically for themselves will probably find that they eventually 'outgrow' it.

Nevertheless, as a book for getting started again, and as a pleasurable read, it remains the best of its kind. Well worth a look.
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on 5 March 2013
Like most people, I carefully consider reviews before making any purchases. There are so many books on writing, it can be daunting knowing which one to choose. I absolutely love this book as it really helps unlock your inner creativeness with a series of exercises that are simple and fun. The style of writing is very informative, and I enjoyed reading about the authors insights. Buy this book, you won't regret it!
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on 19 June 2010
I have nothing but high praise for this valuable little book. It gets down to the business of writing - immediately. I would say also that every person who aspires to being a writer soon realises the myriad ways that this book can help. From the simple imperative 'Pick up the pen' to lots of ideas for poets, short story writers, novelists and 'hacks' aswell. Natalie Goldberg's style is very refreshing and one senses that Ms Goldberg
practices what she preaches, every day. A gem.
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on 1 September 2000
I wish that I had read this book years ago. I feel that suddenly all the constraints that had been holding me back from writing have finally been stripped away. At last I know that it is okay for me to write and that I have something to write about.
This book has made a profound difference to my confidence in writing and I carry it around to refer to time and time again.
What an inspiration!
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on 1 July 2015
I was advised to read Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg ahead of attending a writing course in July 2015. As a writer in training I always love reading how people approach the task of novel writing; usually it is the same advice – just write – but sometimes you get a small nugget of new advice or even just the creative juices start to flow.

I did not feel this with the majority of chapters in Writing Down the Bones. Yes, it is a little dated (it is nearly thirty years old) and sure, in 1986 things were different to how they are now but I just found the book to be a little bit hippy-dippy for my liking. It was too exploratory for the kind of writing I want to do.

No time during or after reading did I feel like I wanted to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard to get a story written. In the end I was passively reading the chapters just to get to the end of the book.

I’m sure other writers may find this book useful. However, I did not.

Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg is available now.
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on 16 July 2016
I got this book when I was just about to start a writing course. As a journalist, academic writer, copywriter, I had dabbled in different forms of writing and found that creative writing is a different ballgame altogether. I had just started this Becoming a Writer Course and was required to read Dorothea Brande. The course allowed me to meet myself as a writer and demanded us to develop skills to become one.

In terms of writing books, Natalie Goldberg and Brande talked of about in the same breadth. So while buying Brande, I procured a copy of Goldberg as well and found practical ideas that got me to open my notebook and start scribbling.

It is said that nothing will teach you writing better than getting down to writing. But I have found, that dipping into this book now and again, has given me insight and many answers to queries about writing per se.


Goldberg analyses the craft and the whole mindset of writing - how to write and what to write. In short succinct chapters, Goldberg de constructs the myth of writing and talks us through the process with her no nonsense approach.

What works:
If you are a writer who has dabbled in creative writing and worked towards constructing a story, then this book is great. It is great, inspirational and the book really talks to you.

It also addresses various issues like where to write and when to write.

It allows you to forget the world, inhibitions and get your thoughts on paper. It makes you take yourself seriously as a writer even if what you are writing at the moment is rubbish!

I like to consult it when I am in the middle of writing a piece and find it boosts my morale and gives me direction in terms of writing.
It was a book written in the 70s but it holds true even today. It is this element that makes this book timeless to me - a classic.

What doesn't:
If you are thinking of becoming a writer and are looking for inspiration, then it is nothing but a good read.

But if you want to make it work for you, get down to writing and this book will help you get there!
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on 10 July 1999
I was trying to write my first short story in English, (I'm Swedish), and I was having immense difficulty getting started. A friend of mine told me this book saved her life as a writer once, and so I borrowed it at the library. After one chapter I knew I needed my own copy; the book just gripped me, told me I could write, because it didn't matter how I wrote, how long it was, how good... You write for yourself. Natalie Goldberg showed me not how to write, but how to relax in my writing, be myself. It is not a book for someone who wants to be instructed in "how to write a short story", or "how to write poetry". But then, if you let yourself be instructed in how to write, you can never be a real writer. Natalie Goldberg showed me all the little things that are so wonderful about being a writer. Sitting in a coffee shop, sipping a mocha freeze with your friend, writing about everything and nothing; getting up before everyone else, and sip in the beautiful solitude and the silence, and filter them into your writing... Writing Down the Bones is a book for every writer.
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