25 February 2011

Book Review: Wild Mind

Wild Mind: Living the Writer's Lifeby Emily Hutto

Like most of Natalie Goldberg’s writing, Wild Mind took me a long time to read through –not because her language is elevated or her sentences or complex (actually she writes rather simply), but because all I want to do when I read her words is write. She’s so passionate about what she does, and writes in a point-blank way, nearly commanding me to find pen and paper –immediately. It’s difficult to get through more than one of Goldberg’s short chapters without needing to jot something down, especially because at the end of each one she recommends a new writing exercise.

In her sequel to Writing Down the Bones, Goldberg conveys the comfort level that she’s reached in her writing. Her stories are more candid, and she makes note that she’s taken more risks in her craft than ever before. She’s been writing with her wild mind, a condition in which thoughts have no reservations. “You lose control and let wild mind take over,” she says. “It is the best way to write. To live, too.”

How does one exercise the wild mind? By free writing. Free writing without stopping, or for timed periods. Writing everything in your head as it comes out, not scratching out phrases or changing words, just writing. Moving the pen without stopping.

“Writing is accepting yourself because it’s all what you know, until something really profound escapes,” says Goldberg. Write everything in your head, as boring or uneventful or inappropriate as it might look on paper. Something profound will escape.
Goldberg writes this way. Her book is a montage of random stories and meaningless details, but every so often she makes a conclusion about writing, or human nature, or both, and then you keep reading through the random for more reality.

Wild Mind is a book for writers who have been writing for a while. They’ll connect Goldberg’s array of analogies: writing is like running, breathing, water, air and sex. And you should fit it into your day whenever you can.

Here are a few of Goldberg’s rambles adapted into one-sentence writer’s tips lessons:

Write about your sleep and dreams.

Don’t use the word because, instead make statements without justification.

Write about home.

Don’t write literally; Food doesn’t necessarily imply mashed potatoes and a vehicle isn’t always a truck.

Write about things that disturb you.

Using the words really and very convey that you are desperate to convince someone of something.

Tell your writing out loud as a story to someone after you’ve written it.

Write about summer.

Keep your hand moving. (That’s a direct quote)

Never throw anything you’ve written away.

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