Writing Book Review: Wild Mind by Natalie Goldberg

Wild Mind: Living the Writer's LifeWild Mind: Living the Writer’s Life by Natalie Goldberg
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Around the Year Reading Challenge Item #21: A book from the Goodreads recommendations page

The philosophy behind this book is pretty much the same as that powering Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within, but I found this book to be a lot more enjoyable. Goldberg’s tone is a bit less pretentious and her advice, overall, feels more grounded and less self-involved. The writing prompts vary from the whimsical to the thoughtful to the practical, and I felt a little smug to see her recommending several practices that I already incorporate. The book is full of analogies to the writing life to make it seem a little less mystical, and it includes a healthy dose of author humility. While less exuberant than “Bones,” the advice in this book is both inspiring and sustainable.

A couple things did bug me about the book. I felt that Goldberg included far more examples of her own writing than were needed to convey the sense of what she was advising; these felt self-indulgent. I also can’t help notice that in many of these, “free yourself and write” advice books, the authors do not have traditional employment — either they are supporting themselves with their writing, or they have some mysterious source of income squirreled away somewhere, and the advice about letting writing permeate every part of your life can feel unattainable when you are squeezing it in around the rest of your life. Goldberg does address this in several places, but there’s a sense that she doesn’t feel it down in her bones when she writes about quitting her one-day-a-week paid gig because it interferes with her writing mojo. Yup, jobs are hella inconvenient.

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