More Natalie Says…

Whenever I feel like I need to write but can’t come up with something to actually write about or need general inspiration, I turn to Natalie Goldberg and either my Kindle or paperback copy of Writing Down the Bones. I turn to a random chapter and start reading until I get inspired. She’s full of advice about how to write, what to write about, but there’s also something about her words themselves, how she describes things that pulls me in. It wants me to be like her, to write more but also to write in such a way that I have most accurately captured whatever it is I want to say.

With the month almost half over, I’m sure I’m not the only NaBloPoMo-er looking for things to write about. And, of course, Natalie has plenty of ideas. So, let’s see what Natalie says.

  1. Talk about the quality of the light coming in through your window.
  2. Begin with “I remember.” Write lots of small memories. If you fall into one large memory, write that.
  3. Take something you feel strongly about, whether it is positive or negative, and write about it as though you love it. Go as far as you can, writing as though you love it, then flip over and write about the same thing as though you hate it. Then write about it perfectly neutral.
  4. Choose a color – for instance, pink – and take a fifteen-minute walk. On your walk notice whenever there is pink. Come back to you notebook and write for fifteen minutes.
  5. Write in different places – for example, in a laundry mat, and pic up on the rhythm of the washing machines. Write at bus stops, in cafes, write about what is going on around you.
  6. Give me your morning. Breakfast, waking up, walking to the bus stop. Be as specific as possible. Slow down in your mind and go over the details of your morning.
  7. Visualize a place that you really love, be there, see the details. Now write about it. What colors are thee, sounds, smells?
  8. Write about “leaving.” Approach it any way you want. Write about your divorce, leaving the house this morning, or a friend dying.
  9. What is your first memory?
  10. Who are the people you have loved?
  11. Write about the streets of your city.
  12. Describe a grandparent.
  13. Write about:
    • swimming
    • the stars
    • the most frightened you’ve ever been
    • green places
    • how you learned about sex
    • your first sexual experience
    • the closest you ever felt to God or nature
    • reading and books that changed your life
    • physical endurance
    • a teacher you had
  14. Take a poetry book. Open to any page, grab a line, write it down, and continue from there. If you begin with a great line, it helps because you start write off from a lofty place.
  15. What kind of animal are you? Do you think you are really a cow, chipmunk, fox, horse underneath?
  16. Make a list of your obsessions. Now you have a list of things to write about.
  17. Make a list of the stories you tell over and over – write those stories.

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