Years before I ever read my first blog or considered writing these words, I spent a week in a workshop in Taos, New Mexico with a group of people who came together to study with Natalie Goldberg. I can’t say that I know what everyone else’s motivation was for the week, but I had longed for a chance to be in the same space with the woman who had intrigued me with her book Writing Down The Bones since I’d first read it in 1986. The picture above was taken in 2000 at one of the communal meals we shared three times a day in between a good bit of time spent writing and sharing our written words with each other. As you can see by my smile, I was pretty happy during my week there. In Writing Down The Bones, Natalie Goldberg gives the reader her six rules designed to help free the writer within.
After deciding how long to write, as in ten minutes or twenty, whatever time you set for yourself, you must keep writing for the whole time without stopping.
The Goldberg Six:
1. Keep your hand moving. (Don’t pause to reread the line you have just written. That’s stalling and trying to get control of what you’re saying. Don’t stop until the time is up.)
2. Don’t cross out. (That is editing as you write. Even if you write something you didn’t mean to write, leave it. Don’t backspace.)
3. Don’t worry about spelling, punctuation, grammar. (Don’t even care about staying within the margins and lines on the page.)
4. Lose control.
5. Don’t think. Don’t get logical.
6. Go for the jugular. (If something comes up in your writing that is scary or naked, dive right into it. It probably has lots of energy.)
While I’ve been writing for years, my internal critic made it almost impossible for me to actually let anyone read what I had written. This workshop was gave me a chance to break free and share my words without fear of criticism. What we wrote we read aloud and according to the rules, we made no comments as to what we had just heard so no one had to worry about having their writing critiqued.
The best discovery in doing this daily is how quickly to find your real voice and how easy it is to begin writing thinking that you’re going in one direction, when the true story develops somewhere further down the page than you first imagined. I’d like to incorporate a bit of this into my writing again and I would like to offer anyone who wishes to join me a chance to do it too.
With that in mind, I’ve created a new site called, Tell Me A Story Tuesdays and it is my hope that you, (my readers) will join me there on Tuesdays and leave a little of your creative thought behind.
On Tuesdays, I’ll post three photographs along with instructions for those interested in participating to leave a sentence behind with one or all three and I’ll use them to do a bit of free writing. The goal will be to create a story which I will share on Tuesdays. I’m inviting anyone interested in doing a little storytelling of their own to join me by taking a sentence or two to turn into your own creation. Then on Tuesdays, post it on your blog and send me a link the night before so I can include a link to your site with my own Tuesday story.
Since I don’t have a writers group here, I thought this might be a good way to fill that void and have a bit of fun. Write as little or as much as you’d like and remember the six rules above while you’re writing. I plan to edit my writing before posting, but only after my practice writing time is up. Remember, the goal here is practice writing, not perfection.
Please go to Tell Me A Story Tuesdays to begin and I look forward to seeing what you’d like to share next Tuesday.
The connectedness of the blogosphere led me here due to your comment on my blog. I would love to participate on Tuesdays!
And I really enjoyed your re-cap of Natalie Goldberg. Also, I have been to Cornwall. More connections.
What a great idea. I belong to a private group that does something similar to this. Gosh… “did” this is more like it. :-\ WE’ve all drifted off last month. Hectic lives and your forget. Must get back there and rattle the writing pens! 😉
Great to see this, Elizabeth. I have Writing Down the Bones too. Bought it years ago when ‘between agents’ and looking for inspiration. A great book for writers.