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Room to Writeby Bonni Goldberg
Writing, like any spiritual undertaking, has many paths, but only one direction--deeper. Whichever path you follow, a few fundamental rules apply:
The book is divided into two hundred studies: you might try doing three or four each week. Having said that, it isn't at all necessary to follow this schedule. There is nothing magic about the order of the studies, either. Whether you do them chronologically, randomly, or by topic will tell you something about the way you write. Not whether it's good or bad, just something bout how you work. If you pick studies randomly, perhaps you compose the same way. So you might not want to try and start your novel idea on page one. Instead you might be more productive beginning wherever you land. how much time you devote to any study is also up to you. We each have our own rhythm to consider, and there is no formula for success based on the length of time you allot a topic. Try writing until you have nothing more to say, then write at least one more paragraph or stanza.
Use these studies to begin journal entries, as warm-ups or sketches before getting down to "serious" writing, to mine ideas for a piece, to help develop characters for your novel by doing the studies as one of them, as prompts for your writing group or class, or to pass he time on a rainy Sunday night.
Sometimes I use the word diving, which is my term for what Natalie Goldberg calls writing practice, Deena Metzger calls automatic writing, and is often referred to as associative or free writing. Although these are the same activity, the emphasis differs. Try the first study, "Diving In." Diving is writing without stopping, crossing out or changing any words. The idea is to reach the uncensored material by letting go of the outcome and keeping the words flowing quickly. You are diving into your imagination. The only rule is, don't stop. You succeed as soon as you fill up the number of pages you allotted to the dive.
Many of the studies offer more than one way of approaching a topic. Let your intuition guide you. Whichever option is most enticing is the one to do. You may decide to try all the options at one sitting or each individually over time. The studies are designed to be reusable. No matter how you approach a study the first time, you will glean a new understanding the second time around. The quotes are furnishings to complement each study and further stir you.
No matter how successful you are fine-finishing your writing or making it public, you must always return to the first process of sitting down to write and finding out what you have to say, the putting of words together through grappling wit the thoughts, associations, emotions, and connections that form among your intellect, imagination, and heart. It is for this reason that I have gathered studies I use as a writer and creative writing teacher: to offer you a daily invitation to write and a way to enter the writing--a door for you to open. What you find behind each door is an adventure. Explore every room. Listen to yourself. Trust what you hear.
From Room To Write © 1996 Bonni Goldberg
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