Just Write

Natalie Goldberg talks about writing practice

From an interview in The Sun with Natalie Goldberg, November 2003:

A writing practice is simply picking up a pen — a fast-writing pen, preferably, since the mind is faster than the hand — and doing timed writing exercises. The idea is to keep your hand moving for, say, ten minutes, and don’t cross anything out, because that makes space for your inner editor to come in. You are free to write the worst junk in America. After all, when we get on the tennis courts, we don’t expect to be a champion the first day.

Writing is an athletic activity; the more you practice, the better you get at it. The reason you keep your hand moving is because there’s often a conflict between the editor and the creator. The editor is always on our shoulder saying, “Oh, you shouldn’t write that. It’s not good.”

When you keep the hand moving, it’s an opportunity for the creator to have a say. The goal is to allow the written word to connect with your original mind, to write down the first thought that you flash on, before the second and third thoughts come in. That’s where the energy is. That’s where the alive, fresh vision is, before society, which we’ve internalized, takes over and teaches us to be polite and censor ourselves. Another way of putting it is that you need to trust what intuitively comes through you, rather than what you think you should be writing.

Writing practice teaches you what your obsessions are, what you keep coming back to. Your obsessions have energy, and you can use them. Writing offers you a chance to transform an obsession into a passion, which is a lot better than constantly focusing on the things that are eating you.

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