Making Writing a Practice, an Old Friend

Natalie Goldberg is a long time writer and a follower of Zen Buddhism. I admit that I haven’t read her novels. But her writing books are wonderful!

I recently picked up a copy of Old Friend from Far Away, a text about writing memoir. As I started to read it while waiting in line at the post office, I was uplifted. When it was my turn to buy stamps, I felt confident that I could be a better writer. And I was anxious to get home and get to work!

The book is filled with encouraging stories and writing exercises, forcing you to sit down and get to it! Of course, you’re not getting any peer comments from a book, but at least it will allow you to develop your writing practice. Most importantly, she addresses what she calls the “monkey mind,” that voice within us that stymies our creative process, that keeps us from even trying.

I have been reading this text whenever I feel discouraged about writing. Frequently, I get blue and think to myself that I’d be a better writer if I just enrolled in a writing course, but I’m strapped for time. Goldberg’s writing and language keeps me riveted to her every word. She tells me to do something and I sit down and obey her. And I start to get lost in writing.

Get the book. Read a few pages. Then start writing. Ten minutes. Go!