Monday, October 16, 2006

TO WRITE: "Go further" in your writing
One of the most wonderful writing teachers in the world, in my opinion, is Natalie Goldberg. Her book Writing Down the Bones is one I come back to again and again when I'm dragging and I need writing inspiration. I've also had the good fortune to study with her twice in Taos, New Mexico, where she makes her home. Natalie is a Buddhist, and that faith's philosophies and practices show up often in her approach. I should say too that Natalie is the first person I discovered who uses the "timed writing" approach that I advocate in my class and this blog.

That said, today I'm going to ask you to try to "go further" in your writing, as she puts it. After you've been doing timed writings for a while, you may be emotionally stopping yourself just as you reach the end of the prescribed period. Try now to make yourself really delve into the writing you're doing, even if you end up writing longer than you intended. You might just be getting to the good stuff.

As Natalie writes: "Push yourself beyond when you think you are done with what you have to say. Go a little further. Sometimes when you think you are done, it is just the edge of beginning. Probably that's why we decide we're done. It's getting too scary. We are touching down onto something real. It is beyond the point when you think you are done that often something strong comes out."

Play with this...
Write for 10 minutes starting with the phrase: In my opinion.... Then continue to write for 10 more. As usual, keep your pen moving and don't think too much, just write. Then continue for 10 minutes more. Repeat as desired. Later look back at your writing and see if you can identify where the writing was at its deepest or most meaningful. Remember this when you are writing anything. You may need to push a little more to get to the real issue you're writing about.

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