Writing on Empty: A Guide to Finding Your Voice (Hardcover)

Writing on Empty: A Guide to Finding Your Voice By Natalie Goldberg Cover Image

Writing on Empty: A Guide to Finding Your Voice (Hardcover)


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Bestselling author and teacher Natalie Goldberg shares her inspiring personal journey out of a devastating period of writer’s block and back into a life of growth, creativity, and healing.

Natalie Goldberg has been writing for the past fifty years. But at the beginning of the pandemic, she suddenly wasn’t able to write anymore. Her imaginative wellspring had dried up, and she was forced to ask herself: what do I do when what has always worked for me doesn’t work anymore?

In this beautifully written, inspiring personal account, Natalie shares her harrowing journey out of creative paralysis and back onto the page. When all of her tried and true methods – meditation, sitting still, writing practice – stopped working, she had to take drastic action. She got into her car and left New Mexico in search of a new inventive source. In her journey through the western states, she visited famous literary sites, searching for the spark that would reignite her ability to write.

And, next to Hemingway’s grave, she found it. “Get going,” he seemed to say to her, and she did. Now, Natalie shares her story of traveling through literary and personal memory to clarify her way forward, struggling to make sense of her difficult relationships with parents and teachers, and digging into her long-held grief. Ultimately, she discovers how to write through the emptiness in order to fill up the world with compassion, healing, and renewed liveliness.

For anyone struggling to reconnect with their own creative source, Writing on Empty is a gentle and instructive guidebook back to remembering what truly matters.

Natalie Goldberg is a poet, teacher, writer, and painter. A student of Zen Buddhism for 24 years, she trained intensively with Katagiri Roshi for 12 years, and is ordained in the Order of Interbeing with Thich Nhat Hanh. Natalie Goldberg teaches writing workshops nationally based on the methods presented in Writing Down the Bones. Her other books include Wild Mind; Long Quiet Highway; Banana Rose; and Living Color.
Product Details ISBN: 9781250342546
ISBN-10: 1250342546
Publisher: St. Martin's Essentials
Publication Date: July 9th, 2024
Pages: 176
Language: English

“Natalie Goldberg is a sensualist. She lives life deeply; sight and sound, taste and smell. She takes the reader on a felt journey, exploring the odd corners of her mind and their own. Writing on Empty reveals a life richly led—it invites the reader within us all to explore and expand their particular human experience.”
Julia Cameron, New York Times bestselling author of The Artist's Way

"A refreshingly honest look at the struggles of the creative mind. Writers waiting for the muse to strike will find comfort and plenty of useful tips."
Publishers Weekly

"At some point or another, nearly all writers suffer a spell when the aquifer of inspiration runs dry. With Writing On Empty, Natalie Goldberg has written a sagacious and at times surprisingly funny memoir about her own dry spell—a chronicle that will also serve as an elegant instruction manual for others on how to write through the inevitable desolate patches to rekindle the banked fires of creativity."
Hampton Sides, bestselling author of Ghost Soldiers and Blood and Thunder

“The naked truth about writing! It doesn’t always flow but it never fails to connect us with life – our own life and the life of the world. With fierce honesty, feisty humor and relentless determination, one of the greatest teachers of our times uses her own process to show us the way to be so present in the fallow seasons that we cannot help but break through to a more vibrant intimacy with things as they are, and a renewed capacity for sharing them.”
Mirabai Starr, author of Wild Mercy and Caravan of No Despair

“Radically honest, deeply personal, and comforting. I wanted this book to continue on forever. Natalie puts into words what so many of us have felt over the past four years since the planet was ravaged by a global pandemic, to which not even creativity was immune. And yet, this book is filled with hope. Through her eyes and the tenderness of memory and time, a path back home to the heart of what matters is illuminated, both for herself, and for all of us.”
Aomawa Shields, PhD, astrophysicist and author of Life on Other Planets

“In this remarkable book, Natalie Goldberg's rich and wild mind brings us to the landscape of emptiness and then delivers us from sorrow. This fascinating book is full of pathos, humor, gorgeous detail, then beauty and surprise. It is a powerful revelation about this very moment and about the truth of our lives that is often hidden from us. One learns and leaps, and falls back and moves forward on this path of discovery unfolded by this marvelous writer.”
Rev. Joan Jiko Halifax, Abbot, Upaya Zen Center

“A once-in-a-generation writing teacher, empowering her students to face their lives’ pains and possibilities on the page, Natalie Goldberg has also long walked the walk. She is a magnetic storyteller. Here again, she draws us in close. We think we’re opening a book about words running dry, but the rush of her language is a current that sweeps us away to many places — and even back to ourselves.”
Bill Addison, James Beard award-winning critic for the Los Angeles Times

“That Natalie Goldberg can write so vividly and with so much energy is proof that the writing practice she brought to us in Writing Down the Bones really does work. Writing on Empty is a wildly original, big-hearted, joyful book about the enduring power of friendship, hope, and writing to help us bear the burdens of a broken world. A must-read guide to breaking through life’s inevitable tight spots with grace and brilliance. “
Katie Arnold, author of Brief Flashings in the Phenomenal World and Running Home

Writing on Empty is part memoir, part writing manual, and a full meditation on emptiness. Natalie Goldberg’s pen stopped moving when covid stopped the world. This is a touching and powerful book detailing her struggle to find meaning and motivation during a desperate time. Even on empty, Goldberg’s prose is at its finest as she shares her emotional and geographic terrain with the clarity, wisdom, heart, and humor we expect from this beloved writer.”
Steve Reigns, author of A Quilt for David

Writing on Empty is far from being another book about writer’s block. Zen wisdom teaches that underneath being is not being. Likewise, the underbelly of knowing is not knowing – and perhaps the backbone of writing is not writing. Feeling as if there is nothing left to say – or write about – the writer Natalie Goldberg dives into that dark inner sky, exploring the invisible heartache of lost inspiration. Chasing a ghost of herself, she zigzags across the country and the landscapes of other writers, yearning to reconnect with her own vivid love affair with the written word. But it is the pandemic. It is the end of a world we once knew. And though writing will return, visceral and real, she does not know that yet. In this uncertain venture, we are invited to ride along with her. Laughing and crying, reaching out and letting go, we share her unique journey. Here as she travels the terrain of loss and longing, we experience Natalie at her most tender and exquisite.”
Ann Filemyr, PhD, poet and President, Southwestern College, Santa Fe, NM

"No one brings us face to face with the reality of our lives quite like Natalie Goldberg. Our ordinary days, our loved ones, our ancestries, our frailties and gifts, our longings and the possibilities for fulfillment in the very ordinariness of each moment - all this, the whole gamut, Natalie makes us see and taste as the reality of our lives, as what we have, and what we are. And in the midst of it all, she shows us the fertility on offer, and helps us turn to lives of creativity and meaning, where we might least expect it. This is true wisdom, and Natalie's true and remarkable gift. It's all here, the tangles of life, the beauty, suffering and hope - and new ways of opening to them, pen in hand. A must-read for anybody seeking to reconnect with their deeper life."
Henry Shukman, author of Original Love and One Blade of Grass