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Thunder and Lightning: Cracking Open the Writer's Craft
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Thunder and Lightning: Cracking Open the Writer's Craft

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  1,244 ratings  ·  103 reviews
In this long-awaited sequel to her bestselling books Writing Down the Bones and Wild Mind, Natalie Goldberg, one of the most sought-after writing teachers of our time, takes us to the next step in the writing process.

You’ve filled your notebooks, done your writing practice, discovered your original voice. Now what? How do you turn this raw material into finished stories, e
Paperback, 240 pages
Published October 30th 2001 by Bantam (first published August 1st 2000)
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Zoë Marriott Absolutely. I've never managed to get more than a couple of chapters into WRITING DOWN THE BONES, and I don't even own WILD MIND, but I absolutely lov…moreAbsolutely. I've never managed to get more than a couple of chapters into WRITING DOWN THE BONES, and I don't even own WILD MIND, but I absolutely loved this book.(less)

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Emma Sea
got to page 11 and my heart cried out for me to stop. I was not ready for the sense of despair Goldberg communicates in her introduction. Which is called 'Warning', so that was kinda apt.

Not for me.
Jan Marquart
Apr 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Natalie Goldberg is most famous for her book Writing Down the Bones, and although I've read every one of her books and liked them, I love Thunder and Lightning the best. I'm not being critical of her. I have taken five of her workshops in Taos and know her personally. She is no-nonsense when it comes to writing. I like that about her. Just do it -- she says. But there is something about Thunder and Lightning that spoke to the writer in me more deeply than the other books. Most of her books have ...more
Jan 20, 2010 rated it liked it
Recommended to Jeana by: Kate Lahey
There are things I like about all of Natalie Goldberg's writing books. She really has a love of writing and that is infectious. However, every writer has a different method and different things that work for them. Her methods are not what work best for me. As I read, I could accept that she was describing her method and I was thinking how that wouldn't work in my situation. I particularly did not like that she said you shouldn't be thinking about the story you're writing unless you're sitting do ...more
Taylor Church
Sep 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I just love finding an author and devouring their mind. You read all their works—their poems, their juvenilia, their forgotten essays, letters, novels, and memoirs. You read biographies on them and listen to interviews of them. In doing so you don’t try to copy their style or become them, but a beautiful part of them is left with you forever like a close friend. You can never go back to the time before you first opened their books, and if they are strong writers you will be that much better off ...more
Jul 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
Thunder and Lightning didn't effortlessly send my wild mind flying like Writing Down the Bones did, but it wasn't just a piece of fluff, either. Far from it. It's still Goldberg, writing in that clear and poignant way that she has, sharing herself and what she's learned about writing. The best books about writing inspire rather than dictate. Goldberg inspires. ...more
Mary Catelli
Mar 07, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: how-to-write
A book about actually turning writing into works of literature. Particularly novels.

Very personal accounts. More or less useful depending on how close your writing style comes to hers.
Barb Nelson
Mar 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
I’m not a professional writer, I’ve never been paid for writing. But I do write, often. I rarely go more than a few days without writing something— a review here on GR, a blog post, an email to a friend. So I occasionally pick up a writing book, for ideas, inspiration, or just to see how someone else does it.

As an example of that— how someone else does it— Thunder and Lightning is terrific. Unsurprisingly, Goldberg is a great writer. There are bits of memoir, bits of writing instruction, bits o
Alina Stepan
Apr 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book has a particular story for me. Back in 2014, after a week spent in Paris with work, I had another week with my partner there. Dragging my heavy 2-weeks suitcase down the long metro corridors, from Gentilly to Cluny La Sorbonne, I was longing to finally meet my loved one for a romantic - of course, what else? - week in the City of Lights. Thunder and Lightning, all right :)
In front of Fontaine Saint Michel, here he is, dragging his suitcase and holding two books under his left arm. ‘I f
Sparkie Allison
Apr 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I am a fan of Natalie Goldberg since Writing Down the Bones and then Wild Mind. Thunder and Lightning was on my shelf but other books and work diverted my attention. I am glad that I finally got the opportunity to indulge in this book. Goldberg references Zen practices and humor, both of which resonate with me. It has been a while since I had read a book that spoke to me in so many ways. She advises us to write what disturbs us, what we have not been willing to deal with. That pushes me to move ...more
Apr 01, 2021 rated it really liked it
Since I'm taking a virtual class with Natalie Goldberg, I especially appreciated this book which provides context and insights into her philosophy of the teaching of writing. Goldberg believes that the only way to become a writer is to write spontaneously, daily, and fast. She advocates writing 10 - 15 minutes a day in order to discover your mind. The book is organized into 3 sections: structure, reading (yes, she also advocates reading good writing and writers), and reining in your wild horses. ...more
Jan 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audio-book
Ever since I read Natalie's "Writing Down the Bones" last fall, I have been writing steadily, almost daily. Her approach of "writing practice" has given me back my writing---I can finally silence the internal Editor and let myself write freely, penning those "first thoughts" that often turn out much better than overworked, carefully manicured prose. This book was a nice follow-up to "Bones," if just to keep the conversation going and hear Natalie pronounce "memoir" as "mem-wah" in her terrific N ...more
Bryan Whitehead
Apr 27, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2006
I didn’t like this one anywhere near as much as I liked Natalie Goldberg’s first two books on writing. Most of the entries are longer than in her previous works, and the extra length seems to do little beyond give her unwelcome room to wander off topic. Further, the book is short on practical advice. In its place we get tales from Goldberg’s personal experiences. While these are no doubt priceless to her, they’re often hard to relate to (especially the one at the end, which sounds more like a ne ...more
Brian Cuban
Jun 12, 2018 rated it liked it
I listened to this book because I enjoyed Writing down the bones. I found much of this one redundant to that book.

One big warning here-if you are not into “Zen” you may find her repetitive mentions distracting. That part is really a continuation of Writing Down The Bones.

If you embrace a Zen philosophy of writing and want to learn how it influenced Natalie’s writing, you will probably be more engaged with the book than I was.

The quality of this audio book is a giant leap over Writing Down The
Kelly Brill
Jan 06, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Natalie Goldberg makes me want to write. Write well, write better. Sharper, more detail, closer, more intimate. Write when you feel like it and when you don’t. Make a commitment to it. And read. And walk.

Highly recommend this as a tool and a source of inspiration for anyone who wants to become a better writer. She intersperses practical advice with snippets of teaching and literature, anecdotes about people she’s know and adventures she’s taken.

Complete with a list of her favorite books.
Aug 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book..but then I love Natalie Goldberg. She is a writers writer. She tells you to just write and feel free to write the worst junk in the world. And she shares that it’s not easy even for a prolific writer like herself. Just because I finished this book does not mean it is done. It’s one of those books I will keep with me and when I get stuck in my writing I will pick it up, read some , get inspired and go back to writing. A book I can go back to and read over and over is a treasure ...more
Feb 11, 2020 rated it it was ok
This book gives me anxiety; I'm over writing instruction. This books seems more prescriptive than Writing Down The Bones. She says that one should do writing practice for 2 years. I read it as "no more than 2 years," I believe she means, "At least 2 years." I don't think you want to get caught up forever freewriting and doing morning pages because at some point you need to write your book. Goldberg includes a reading list in the back of this book. ...more
Apr 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Superb look at the craft of writing and vignettes in the lives of many writers, with wonderful candor about her own life as a writer and lecturer. Rich in insights into the challenges of keeping the word vibrant, it also recognizes that one size can never fit all. I strongly recommend this lively guide to anyone who wants to write or even just read better.
Kathy D
Sep 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Writing Down the Bones will always be first in my heart; but this book shows Natalie as a vulnerable, relatable human who also is a world class writer. We all have struggles with our lives. It’s solace to know we aren’t the only ones.
Feb 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
I think this book didn't provide as much content around structure as Natalie suggests but it is a good read nonetheless. Definitely listen to the audiobook with Natalie narrating it, like a long deep chat with a beloved friend. ...more
Larada Horner-Miller
Just what I needed!

As I finished this, so many questions were answered for me on how to take Writing Practice to a different level. Natalie has been and still is my my writing hero, mentor and guru!
May 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book and found it incredibly helpful for my writing in both practical and inspiring ways.
Kelly D.
Sep 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Love her writing advice. Hope to read some of her work soon. Can't wait to dig into the reading list of books she loves. ...more
Joshua Allison
Feb 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Amazing as always. Natalie starts with a very true warning but ends with the inspiration you need to get writing. Especially memoir.
Barb Royal
May 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, writing
From a novice writer's perspective - absolutely fabulous, riveting. ...more
Oct 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
I love Natalie Goldberg and have read most of her books. This one is not my favorite, but it's still good and worth reading. ...more
Feb 19, 2021 rated it really liked it
One of our greatest writing teachers.
Tina Konstant
Mar 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book swings between meditative and mind blowing. I've had it on my shelf for years. Never felt like the right time to read it. Then suddenly it was. If you're a writer on a journey, then hitch a ride with "Thunder and Lightening" for a while. I've read more than my share of books on writing and none have come close to this. It at once feeds your writer's mind and your wishing, dreaming writer's soul. So get yourself a brew, put your feet up and enjoy. If you're ready. If not, wait. No harm ...more
Kressel Housman
Dec 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, writing
This is the “sequel” to Natalie Goldberg’s famous Writing Down the Bones, and though there was a fifteen-year gap between the publication of the two, I read them almost back to back, and this one definitely picked up where its predecessor left off. It tells you how to turn writing practice entries into a book. “Ah! Just what I needed!” I thought.

The middle section is about reading to learn craft. Now, all writers start off as readers, so while this section mentions some interesting books I may c
Wendy Christopher
I read 'Wild Mind' and 'Writing Down The Bones' almost ten years ago now, and both were instrumental in helping me to accept myself as a writer. 'Thunder and Lightning' has re-affirmed that resolve, and reminded me why Natalie Goldberg inspired me so much all those years ago.

She's a lot like Marmite; people either love her open-hearted, spiritual approach both to writing and life or dismiss her as a tree-hugging hippiechick peddling a myth that 'everyone' can write. I'm not ashamed to say I am v
Feb 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Natalie Goldberg is wise and compelling.
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Natalie 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 twe ...more

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“In the past few years I've assigned books to be read before a student attends one of my weeklong seminars. I have been astonished by how few people -- people who supposedly want to write -- read books, and if they read them, how little they examine them.” 16 likes
“I wonder if I don't give too much of myself to writing: I am always half where I am; the other half is feeding the furnace, kick-starting the heat of creativity. I am making love with someone but at the same time I'm noticing how this graceful hand across my belly might just fit in with the memory of lilacs in Albuquerque in 1974.” 13 likes
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