Freeing the Writer Within

‘Freeing the Writer Within’

With Natalie Goldberg

Natalie GoldbergNatalie Goldberg is the author of fifteen books, including classic bestseller Writing Down the Bones, which has changed the way writing is taught in the United States. She has also written the beloved memoir Long Quiet Highway; the novel Banana Rose; Living Color, about her painting; and her legacy book, The True Secret of Writing.

She has taught writing as a practice for the past forty-five years nationally and internationally. She lives in northern New Mexico. For more information, please visit

Goldberg lived in Brooklyn until she was six, when her family moved out to Farmingdale, Long Island, where her father owned the bar the Aero Tavern. From a young age, Goldberg was mad for books and reading, and especially loved Carson McCullers's The Ballad of the Sad Cafe, which she read in ninth grade.

She thinks that single book led her eventually to put pen to paper when she was twenty-four years old. She received a BA in English literature from George Washington University and an MA in humanities from St. John's University.

Goldberg has painted for as long as she has written, and her paintings can be seen in Living Color: A Writer Paints Her World and Top of My Lungs: Poems and Paintings. They can also be viewed at the Ernesto Mayans Gallery on Canyon Road in Sante Fe.

Goldberg has been a serious Zen practitioner since 1974 and studied with Katagiri Roshi from 1978 to 1984.

A dedicated teacher, Goldberg has taught writing and literature for the last forty-five years.

Three Simple Lines

Goldberg's Pilgrimage Into the Heart & Homeland of Haiku

By Chris Dunmire

Three Simple LinesAcclaimed author Natalie Goldberg relates an intriguing experience that she had as a participant in a writing group that met once a month at the local library. She didn't lead the group — she took her seat at the table with everyone else, notebook-in-hand.

The way she tells the story, it's not clear that the other participants know she's a writing teacher and successful author of over a dozen books, including the ground-breaking Writing Down the Bones that sold over a million copies and 'started a revolution in the way we practice writing.' Yes, in a seeming Undercover Boss style, Goldberg blends right in among the students, because she is there to learn.

Goldberg's openness to allowing others to freely critique her work so she can learn reflects wisdom of a great teacher: always a student.

Can you imagine sitting across the table from Natalie Goldberg, giving her writing advice?

Goldberg is still learning and teaching others. Her 15th book, Three Simple Lines is about her 'Pilgrimage into the Heart and Homeland of Haiku' which she intended to be the third and last in her cancer trilogy.

In the following selections, learn more about why people love haiku, the history about famous Japanese masters, and details about Goldberg's pilgrimage into the heart and homeland of haiku.

Three Simple Lines

Wanting to See

A concerted effort to write haiku.

What is the Way of Haiku?

Pure Zen but not Zen.

Natalie Goldberg on 'Three Simple Lines'

What draws us to haiku, famous haiku masters, and pilgrimagimg into the heart and homeland of haiku.

Writing Down the Bones

'Writing Down the Bones' Interview with Natalie Goldberg

Goldberg discusses the 20th anniversary of 'Writing Down the Bones', her books, spiritual practice, and how she doesn't believe in writer's block.

Beginner's Mind, Pen and Paper

Beginner's mind is what we must come back to every time we sit down and write. Writing Down the Bones excerpt.

Engendering Compassion

To begin writing from our pain eventually engenders compassion for our small and groping lives. Writing Down the Bones excerpt.

Thunder and Lightning

'Thunder and Lightning' Interview with Natalie Goldberg

What spawned the idea for Thunder and Lightning, your sequel to Writing Down the Bones and Wild Mind?

Alleviating Writer's Anxiety

When we're concrete about our writing time, it alleviates that thin constant feeling of anxiety that writers have.

Warning! (To Writers)

I know no one wants to hear me say how hard writing is — quit while you can.

Wild Mind

Living the Writer's Life

We are each a concert reverberating with our whole lives and reflecting and amplifying the world around us.

The True Secret of Writing

What is Practice?

I use the word practice all the time. Students nod, but after some time it became clear that different definitions were at work.

How to Flourish in Your Writing

Ways to counteract monkey mind and your inner critic.