Book Review: “The True Secret of Writing” by Natalie Goldberg

Natalie Goldberg is an inspiration to many writers, including myself. I have two of her books, Writing Down the Bones and Wild Mind. They are go-to’s whenever I need a kick in the writing pants. 

I found The True Secret of Writing in a local library, not seeking it out. But it was there. I had to borrow it and read it. It’s kind of different from some of her other writing books. Goldberg takes readers on a journey through her year-long writing retreats in the early 2000’s. The appendix breaks down her plan for others to follow. Natalie also shares her encounters with her students and teachers who’ve inspired her. But as most writers who’ve read Goldberg and/or attended one of her retreats know, she uses the philosophies of Zen in her practices.

Natalie doesn’t list as much writing practices in this book, but there are some useful ones. One exercise is writing your observations in the same spot at the same time for one week. I certainly will try that if the stars align. Another is where writers write an eulogy of sorts. But instead of paragraphs, they’re written like poems. Short, choppy, and to the point. There are also some physical activities one can practice. One such practice is “slow walking,” where you really feel whatever surface you’re walking on, letting all things go. It’s liberating, in a way, which is what Goldberg strives for.

The True Spirit of Writing is one of Natalie’s more personal works. It’s not my favorite, but something I look to add to my collection of writing books. Natalie Goldberg, in my opinion, is one of the best writing teachers around. One day, I hope to meet her in person. Consider it something to do on my writing bucket list. 

Rating: 4 out of 5


2 thoughts on “Book Review: “The True Secret of Writing” by Natalie Goldberg

  1. I’ve never read any of her books, although whenever she comes up in conversation, it’s all good. Thanks for posting this. I’m headed to the library in a few hours; I’ll see if they’ve got it!


  2. Oh, I love Natalie Goldberg’s books! She actually came up a few times last night in the Q&A session of my presentation. Even though it was for a camera club, there were several writers in the audience, too, and they were all fan’s of Goldberg and Julia Cameron. I’ve not read this book, but my copy of “Writing Down the Bones” is falling apart! ~Tui via


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