Quoting Natalie: Shake loose your mind

I try to shake loose my mind, so something fresh can fall out… This process acts like a sifter – sand falls through and bright nuggets come to light.

–Natalie Goldberg, Thunder and Lightning

Writing for creativity

While Natalie talks about “writing practice” in her book Thunder and Lightning (as she did in Writing Down the Bones) to clear the mind and stimulate creativity for the serious writer, the exercises are no different than what we do in our journals. We write without fear, without self-judgment to brush away the cobwebs of the mind and to stimulate the (re)creation or ourselves. Through free-writing — taking out the garbage, as Julia Cameron calls it — we make room for the good stuff. We are able to get past our everyday thoughts and right into the heart of the matter.

When you shake something you have control over it. It, whatever that “it” is, no longer functions under its own power. Shaking your mind through unrestricted writing allows the creative side of your brain to supersede the analytical, critical side. The gems have the opportunity to form and fall onto the page.

Writing through pain

This is important for professional writers, of course, in order for them to hone their craft – or any creative soul, for that matter – but it is also vital to us in everyday life. We can use the shaking up to remember, to uncover deep beliefs, and hidden dreams, and to heal.

Writing about our personal traumas has been proven to aid in the healing process. Seeing the images and feelings associated with our painful experiences actually changes the way the brain processes and understands the memory. This allows us to get past it. By writing about whatever slips from the tip of your pen you will eventually uncover the “nuggets” of your pain.

Look around you right now. What do you see? A book on the table. A toy on the floor. A banana. Coffee cup. Whatever it is, write about it. You may start with the snow-covered car outside the window and end up in your aunt’s living room or in the library at college. Wherever you go, go with it. Go there. Enjoy the ride. Shake it all loose and discover those nuggets.


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