Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Thunder and Lightning: Cracking Open the Writer's Craft” as Want to Read:
Thunder and Lightning: Cracking Open the Writer's Craft
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Thunder and Lightning: Cracking Open the Writer's Craft

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  1,190 ratings  ·  93 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.

Youve filled your notebooks, done your writing practice, discovered your original voice. Now what? How do you turn this raw material into finished stories,
Paperback, 240 pages
Published October 30th 2001 by Bantam (first published August 1st 2000)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Thunder and Lightning, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
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…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)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.99  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,190 ratings  ·  93 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Thunder and Lightning: Cracking Open the Writer's Craft
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 ...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 workstheir 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 dont 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.
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
Im not a professional writer, Ive 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 of
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 ...more
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 dont. 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 shes know and adventures shes taken.

Complete with a list of her favorite books.
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 Natalies 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
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.
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. Its solace to know we arent the only ones. ...more
Feb 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Each one of Natalie Goldberg's craft books dives deeper into her own writing process, and her own memoirs. Thunder and Lightning read like a soothing and honest conversation with an old friend. I am happy to have discovered Goldberg's books.
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.
Barb Royal
May 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, writing
From a novice writer's perspective - absolutely fabulous, riveting.
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.
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.
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.
Kelly Danahy
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.
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: writing, non-fiction
This is the sequel to Natalie Goldbergs 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 check
Feb 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Natalie Goldberg is wise and compelling.
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
Jun 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: writing
I discovered Natalie Goldberg's Writing Down the Bones by accident one day at the library, and instantly fell in love with her willingness to share the honest truth about life as a writer. I was willing to trudge through a whole lot of unfamiliar Zen jargon to grasp the jewels found therein. I was thrilled to find that my small library had recently acquired Thunder and Lightning, and I have consumed it cover to cover.

It is truly a wonderful book--one of the best I've read on the craft of
Kelly McCloskey-Romero
My daughter and I saw Natalie Goldberg speak in early March, and she inspired me. She is irreverent, confident, brash, and lively, even that night when she confessed to having a cold. That night, she recommended Thunder and Lightning when someone asked about writing craft.

This book delivers entertaining doses of Goldberg's prescription: writing practice as a path to overall healthy living, to publication, to anything worth having. She is a Zen Buddhist, and there's an aura of religion and
Sep 11, 2013 rated it it was ok
Natalie Goldberg seems to get a lot of praise among wannabe writers. I decided to check out her book mainly, because she's so popular on blogs and articles.

Unfortunately this book didn't help me much. I usually take notes while I read writing manuals. After 50 pages I hadn't made a single note. The author had already talked some about her first book and her former zen teacher. Everything was so personal that it was hard to draw useful advice from it.

Finishing the book became a chore. Towards
Oct 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed how she discussed writing practice and then showed how important it was to an author's success. Its the only way to ground yourself and your writing. She encouraged writers and want to be writers to seek each other, building upon each other to grow into a better writer. Writing can be a very lonely task and losing sight of the world is not the best move for any writer. Tossing ideas around, asking people to be involved with your story helps your characters develop.

Each process of
Heather Richard
Feb 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
"Maybe it's the gap, the feeling that someone isn't listening, doesn't get it, has half heard us, that compels us to write and explain. That's why we turn around and speak to our past,a s if others can hear us now, as if we can finally hear ourselves and catch our fleeting lives." (67)

"...what jots us to finally arrive where we are?" (141) We don't need to be destroyed to find a voice!

"Sometimes by ourselves we can get lost, especially when it's all coming from us. It's important to have a
Carmen Sisson
Aug 23, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: writers
Goldberg excels at dishing the real dirt on being a writer - the frailties, insecurities, fears, and abject misery. She questions whether writing is "a dumb dream" and asks why most writers seem so depressed.

"Bareboned, you are on the path with no markers, only the skulls of those who never made it back," she warns. "But I have made the journey, and I have made it back over and over again. I will act as your guide."

And what an excellent guide to bring along on the trip. Reading Goldberg will
« previous 1 3 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Zen: The Art of Simple Living
  • The Effortless Sleep Method: The Incredible New Cure for Insomnia and Chronic Sleep Problems
  • Essential Muir: A Selection of John Muir's Best Writings
  • Forgetting Ourselves on Purpose: Vocation and the Ethics of Ambition
  • The Little Book of Mindfulness: 10 Minutes a Day to Less Stress, More Peace
  • The Hero's Journey: Joseph Campbell on His Life & Work (Works)
  • The Man Who Quit Money
  • Perhe
  • The Courage to Write: How Writers Transcend Fear
  • Leaving the Witness: Exiting a Religion and Finding a Life
  • Cave in the Snow
  • The Thundering Years: Rituals and Sacred Wisdom for Teens
  • Zen Philosophy, Zen Practice
  • The Empath's Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People
  • Solitary
  • A Pilgrimage to Eternity: From Canterbury to Rome in Search of a Faith
  • Redhead by the Side of the Road
  • Doorways in the Sand
See similar books…
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 ...more

Related Articles

Need another excuse to treat yourself to new book this week? We've got you covered with the buzziest new releases of the day. To create our lis...
42 likes · 10 comments
“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
More quotes…