Book Reviews

Book Review: Writing Down the Bones

writing down the bonesA massive creative writing event, Camp National Novel Writing Month (known as Camp NaNoWriMo), is starting next Tuesday, so we are featuring a book that has become famous as a combination of self-help and writing advice.

Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg is all about creative writing through the lens of zen philosophy. Goldberg writes a series of short snippets about her experiences of writing in a practical and spiritual sense. She talks about writing as a fundamental part of her life and how it has sometimes helped her through some difficult times. She also gives concrete tips for exercises that can help get through writer’s block or anxiety.

If you think about creative writing as just putting building blocks in the right order, the right words in the right places or the most exciting plot twists at the best times, Writing Down the Bones shows how much writing taps into our past experiences and our hopes for the future. Goldberg also talks about using it as a way of coping with overwhelming emotions or working through her past traumas.

If you already enjoy writing as an emotional outlet, Goldberg can offer you insights into her own experiences. She has a lot of useful exercises for really getting to the heart of what you are trying to say rather than always writing around it. If you have always wanted to try writing but thought that you didn’t know enough about it, Goldberg is here to reassure you that you can write about something you know more about than anyone else – you!Power of Words

Above all, Goldberg wants to encourage people to try writing about their experiences as a way of gaining the confidence to start writing the things they have always wanted to. National Novel Writing Month in November is a challenge to write 50,000 words in 30 days (we’ll feature an event post on that closer to the time), but April’s Camp NaNoWriMo is designed to allow for other kinds of writing, scripts, poetry and even songs, and it allows you to set your own wordcount. It’s the perfect time to see whether writing 10,000 words in a month about your own experiences can unblock your creativity and give you the confidence to try writing more in the future.

Find Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg in the BOOK ZONE at 808.042 and free the writer within!

If you want to know more…

Learn from other masters of creative writing with On Writing by Stephen King and The Creative Writing Coursebook edited by Julia Bell (both in the BOOK ZONE at 808.042).

Explore Zen Buddhism and the value of writing in dealing with emotions and experiences in Zen Buddhism by Christmas Humphreys (BOOK ZONE 294.3927) and The Therapeutic Potential of Creative Writing: Writing Myself by Gillie Bolton (BOOK ZONE 616.89165).

Consider trying out Camp NaNoWriMo in April or July or NaNoWriMo in November. If you’ve always wanted to try writing or haven’t been able to find the confidence to get past the first chapter, give it a go.

Congratulations to a CCN student and NaNoWriMo participant, Lesley Smith, for successfully funding her debut novel, The Changing of the Sun on Kickstarter!


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