I’ve trod the rocky road towards the beacon of Living the Writing Life since childhood. At first it was easy, then work, family, and the basic job of surviving every day, got in the way. In the end, you have to trust yourself, and kill that critic in your mind. You know, the one that keeps whispering in your ear that no-one will want to read what you write, and ‘who are you kidding?’ Then I discovered I wasn’t the only one, and that wonderful writers like Natalie Goldberg , Kate Grenville, Patti Miller hold out helping hands. Slowly, I gained confidence, and the voice became fainter, only to revive on those bleak days when nothing seems possible. Here is some of the best advice that’s helped me become the writer I am.
First: Join a Writers’ Group. Better still, if you can’t find the right one, convene your own. Which is exactly what I did, forming the Randwick Writers’ Group five years ago,and it’s still going strong. It helped me to complete one novel, and gave me the courage to start another.To find out more about my group, see the page ‘Randwick Writers Group convened by Dina Davis’ on the Facebook Pages. Watch this space for some exciting news about RWG!
Natalie Goldberg, in ‘The True Secret of Writing’ has this to say:Sit. Walk. Write.Whether as a profession or a hobby, writing is an art that requires dedication. Not every day arrives with inspiration. Not every story forms easily. In The True Secret of Writing, Natalie Goldberg says the determination to see things through on the page is as much a determination in living with intent.
Begin with meditative sitting where the mind is cleared of distraction. Follow that with slow walking, allowing the body to connect with the mind. Now receiving full attention from body and mind, writing should become a natural third step in the process. Practice these disciplines with a mindfulness akin to yoga.
The overarching theme of The True Secret of Writing is this: practice. Meditation, walking slowly, and putting pen to paper. Again and again, daily, perhaps. Goldberg echoes that these tasks become a ritual practice, a habit as necessary as breathing and sleeping.
The secret to excelling at anything is time and effort. Making writing a part of one’s regularly scheduled activities declares to others, and to yourself, that writing is protected time. No one else will carve the time for you. No one else will insist you clear your mind of distractions and sit down with a pen or keyboard.
Commitment met with practice fuels determination. That determination, then, can lead to satisfaction in triumphing over distractions, in accomplishing what we set out to do.
Life is full of distraction. The beach tempts us on a sunny afternoon; the dishes pile high and remind us of so-called productive tasks we must tend to as adults. Stealing time to put words on a page is often weighed against these distractions, but Goldberg’s guidance in mindfulness can translate intent into commitment.
Her all-time bestselling writer’s handbook, Writing Down the Bones:Freeing the Writer Within, has insight, humor, and practicality, Natalie Goldberg inspires writers and would-be writers to take the leap into writing skillfully and creatively. She offers suggestions, encouragement, and solid advice on many aspects of the writer’s craft: on writing from first thoughts (“keep your hand moving, don’t cross out, just get it on paper”), on listening (“writing is ninety percent listening; the deeper you listen, the better you write”), on using verbs (“verbs provide the energy of the sentence”), on overcoming doubts (“doubt is torture; don’t listen to it”), and even on choosing a restaurant in which to write. Goldberg sees writing as a practice that helps writers comprehend the value of their lives.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
NATALIE GOLDBERG is the author of ten books, including Writing Down the Bones, which has sold over one million copies and has been translated into twelve languages. She has also written the beloved Long Quiet Highway: Waking Up in America, a memoir about her Zen teacher. For the last thirty years she has practiced Zen and taught seminars in writing as a spiritual practice. She lives in northern New Mexico.
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