Natalie Goldberg has been assisting her students into a writing life for forty years. She has developed her own teaching series to do this, a teaching series captured in The True Secret of Writing: Connecting Life with Language. This is a peaceful book to read, a book that reminded me of the sanctity of the simplest routines.

Goldberg speaks of the struggle to develop practices, routines for the things that we wish to do but that are not always easy. Reading Goldberg’s book, I realized some of the practices I’ve developed: my walk in the morning, my tea in the afternoon, my knitting in the car while my husband drives. Goldberg uses examples from her own life and that of her students to inspire us to overcome our personal barriers to practice. She ushers us into peacefulness with poetry and reflections.

This is a book written with writers in mind, but if you’re in a hectic or troubled time of your life, it is possible to read this book slowly, absorbing its calmness in ten to fifteen minute periods of reading. I am contemplating mindfulness at work, and especially I am contemplating the instruction of mindfulness. I read a passage from the book to one of my patient groups and, in the anonymous survey returned after the group, the reading received positive reviews from the youth attending the group.

This book also has excellent notes and reading lists to open your mind. There is no index but The True Secret of Writing does not provide information in the manner of standard creative nonfiction. An index is not as crucial.

Finally, this book has provided me with the Loving Kindness Prayer. I am always so saddened by the fact that it is necessary to remind people over and over again to be kind to themselves. I do not know why this is so hard to learn, but I know it’s taking me a long time. I am going to copy out this meditation for you. I hope it helps you.

May I be happy
May I be peaceful
May I be free
May I have the ease of well-being
May I be safe
May I be healthy

(Note: The prayer comes from page 142 of the 2013 Atria Books edition of The True Secret of Writing: Connecting Life with Language)

2 thoughts on “Book Review: The True Secret of Writing

  1. Donna Lougheed says:

    Thanks Gail. I’m going to mention this book at my book club.

  2. Audrey Lawrence says:

    A delightful and mindful review… I will have to get a copy soon! Thank you!

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