Where Do We Begin?

By Laurie Epps

We are discussing Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg. Below, you will see my outlines of the various themes in the book.

Beginners Mind: Pen & Paper p. 5

Writers tools are very important, whether pen and paper or laptop, typewriter or recording device; make it personal experiment.....

Goldberg's example was a drawing pad. Choose your supplies carefully but not so carefully that you are shopping instead of writing.

How do you pick your supplies? Please share with us below.

First Thoughts pp.8-10

Sometimes the hardest part is getting your ideas out on paper. In this essay, Goldberg talks about free-writing, but establishing some ground rules:

1. Set an amount of time.
2. Keep your hand moving.
3. Don't cross out things.
4. Don't worry about spelling, punctuation, or grammar.
5. Lose control. Don't get overly logical.
6. Don't think too purposely about it.
7. Go for the jugular. (If something comes up in your writing that is scary, or naked, dive right into it.)

First thoughts are very energizing. It has to do with freshness and inspiration. What it is really about, is allowing your writing to become bigger than you are.

Have you ever tried free-writing? What were the results? Please join the conversation, and tell us about it below.

Writing as Practice pp. 11-14

Often, our high expectations of our writing can hinder our process. If you think you are going to write a great novel when you sit down to write, you'll freeze and give yourself mind-block.

There is a great importance of warming up our thoughts, of learning how to tune out background noise, and connecting to our writing. Free-writing or journaling can be great for this. However, this essay made parallelisms with warming up for exercise, and warming up for writing. More specifically, Goldberg introduces the idea that much like you warm up your muscles for exercise by doing stretches, you warm up your brain for writing by de-cluttering your mind with free-writing which gets it ready to write.

Do you have an activity that you do that gets you ready to write, or warms up your brain for writing? Please share it with all of us in the comments section.


Composting pp. 15-17

Composting when you are a writer is largely about reflection. Keep raking through your mind for writing material over and over again until you till something you can write about. This often means you write and you write.

It's introduction talks largely about the power of reflection. My article Par Avion is going to be published this upcoming summer. I wrote this article in my Advanced Composition class last year, but what needs to be realized here, is that I went to Paris 25 years ago. The power of reflection is a powerful thing.

Goldberg gives us a great quote from Ernest Hemingway, "Maybe away from Paris I could write about Paris as in Paris. I could write about Michigan. I did not know it was too early for that because I didn't know Paris well enough." ~Ernest Hemingway, "A Moveable Feast"

Goldberg's example here was that you can't write about love when you're in love. In love, you only write I love you, I love you, I love you. Pretty dull read if you ask me. When your love has passed, or changed form you can see it more clearly. Then you can write about the love you felt at that moment.

Please tell us about a time when you used the power of reflection to get your story down, and presented in fullness to the world. Join in the conversation.

Come back next week, and be prepared to talk about pp. 21-31 in the book.


Laurie Epps is a non-fiction author, essayist, editor, and poet living in Anderson, South Carolina. A seeker of beauty, her is dream is to travel the world one day and tell the many stories of those she meets. To read more of Laurie's stories come back here for her column about Poetry on Thursdays, or follow her Tuesday column dedicated to writing on: http://thewriteconversation.blogspot.com





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