The Artist’s Way has been on my reading list for some time. And yet in all of my 33 years I’ve never come to read it, even though it refuses to go away. That is why when I saw the The Right to Write; An Invitation and Initiation Into the Writing Life penned by the same author, Julia Cameron, I cradled it in my arms all the way to the cash register as if it was something spectacular and fragile. Although I’d never heard of it before I knew I had to read this book without delay.
What I didn’t realise then is that what I was coddling was my own creativity. Something, until now, I had protected unconsciously, believing it to be rather feeble and all too delicate to step into the light. I carried my creativity around apologetically. Sorry!
The Right to Write; An Invitation and Initiation Into the Writing Life changed my perspective on writing and myself as a writer.
The truth is I published my first book when I was about 9 years old, choosing to write up a story of my own invention on homemade bubble print paper in my best handwriting, which I then illustrated personally and bound with cardboard covered in tinfoil.
Yet despite writing for pleasure and writing professionally I have never felt like I could make the claim to being a real writer. After all, I don’t have an international bestseller, I never studied literature, my spelling sucks and my grammar often leaves something to be desired. Who was I to call myself a writer? It felt cheeky, making it impossible to take myself seriously.
And that is exactly the attitude that Julia Cameron sets out to systematically abolish. She believes that storytelling is built into our DNA and the act of putting pen to paper our birthright. She sets out to convince her readers that writing is a way of life, available to us all.
She describes how writing can help us to handcraft life as we live it. ‘We should write because writing brings clarity and passion to the act of living. Writing is sensual, experiential, grounding. We should write, because writing is good for the soul… It provides a path through the world we live in.’ She says. ‘We should write, above all, because we are writers, whether we call ourselves that or not.’
Julia discusses creativity as a wild force that runs through us that deserves to be unleashed, not tamed. She suggests that writing should be heartfelt rather than logical and illuminates the way to adopting an insightful and inspired approach which I found refreshing.
Elegantly and poetically written this book is peppered with personal anecdotes, writing tools and interesting exercises to release the writer in you, making it a page turning adventure if you’re open to the journey.
Reading this book, I felt like I’d been let into a big secret that liberated me from everything that had been limiting me as a ‘writer.’ By the time I reached the closing chapter I had a complete outline for a new book, the idea for which had been fluttering around my head like a butterfly looking for a safe place to land for at least a year.
It shifted my thinking from writing being something I do to something I am.
Julia’s advice can be a little esoteric and spiritually orientated at times, which may not be for everyone, but there is enough good content in there to warrant a read; just skim over the flower power stuff if it isn’t for you.
Would I recommend this book? Absolutely.
Here are some of my favourite quotes from The Right to Write; An Invitation and Initiation Into the Writing Life:
- We write because something touches us. We write because we want to touch someone else.
- When a writer writes from the heart of what matters to him personally, the writing is often both personal and powerful . When a writer writes what he thinks the market needs, the standard of writing is lowered, along with the stakes.
- Observed closely enough, all of life is interesting. When we practice the art of close observation, we gain an emotional palette that has more shades and more possibility than the screaming extremes of black and white headlines declaring catastrophe and crisis.
- Writing feels collaborative. It is a dance between reality and us as an observer.
- Moving our hand across the page we make life handmade.
- As you become more fluid and express, you will become more vibrant, more vital and more alive.
- Writing is a practice field. It teaches us how to do happy. It teaches us how to do brave. It teaches us how to do open, caring, loyal, resourceful and vulnerable. If you can do it on the page, if we can let our imagination connect the dots, we begin to get a picture ourselves as larger and more fully human than we may have yet managed.
The Right to Write; An Invitation and Initiation Into the Writing Life is an engaging, swashbuckling read that leaves you feeling empowered, breathless and bold.
- 4 / 5
- 5 / 5
- 5 / 5