I've been in the middle of Natalie Goldberg's Writing Down the Bones for a long time now. It takes me forever to read meaty or instructional books, because I'm afraid that if I read at my normal pace, I won't absorb any of the content. Attempting to slow down usually results in forgetting about the book entirely and rediscovering it weeks or months later. There must be a better way.
Anyway, here are some selections from my favorite chapter so far, "Don't Use Writing to Get Love":
Writers get confused. We think writing gives us an excuse for being alive. We forget that being alive is unconditional and that life and writing are two separate entities. Often we use writing as a way to receive notice, attention, love…
…We want honest support and encouragement. When we receive it, we don't believe it, but we are quick to accept criticism to reinforce our deepest beliefs that, in truth, we are no good and not really writers… Students say to me, "Well, you're just the teacher. You have to say something positive." Friends say, "Well, you're just my friend. You already like me." Stop! Really stop when someone is complimenting you. Even if it's painful and you are not used to it, just keep breathing, listen, and let yourself take it in. Feel how good it is. Build up a tolerance for positive, honest support.