Sam's Reviews > The Right to Write: An Invitation and Initiation Into the Writing Life

The Right to Write by Julia Cameron
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it was ok

I expected to like this book more than I did, and I must say I'm glad I didn't buy another of Cameron's books which interested me (The Artist's Way) at the same time I bought this one. Having read The Right to Write, I think I can safely say that Julia Cameron's approach isn't really my preferred one.

For me, the main problem with this book was how spiritual it was, which wasn't something I was at all expecting (and which may mean that others who are more sympathetic to this outlook will find the book more inspiring than I did). Though I liked some of Cameron's specific suggestions about living a writing life, much of her discussion on inspiration and 'finding' stories to tell seemed to me completely irrelevant to a secular writing life. For example, the following quotes provide an idea of the flavour of the book, and your response to them is probably a good guide to whether this book will suit you or not:

p101: Although we seldom talk about it in these terms, writing is a means of prayer. It connects us to the invisible world....Writing gives us a place to welcome more than the rational. It opens the door to inspiration....No matter how secular it may appear, writing is actually a spiritual tool. (This is from a chapter titled Being an Open Channel)

p201: Let me begin by saying I consider psychic phenomena to be a normal part of life. I do not ascribe to the Johnny-come-lately school of rationalism, which would have us believe only in the solid world of five senses and the things they can easily explain. It is my belief that writing is a spiritual practice and that the world of spirit is far larger, and more variable, than the physical world - and every bit as real. (From a chapter titled ESP.)

p207 (part of the exercise recommended for the ESP chapter, in which the reader is urged to write on several topics, including this one): Do you believe in God? Describe your belief or lack of belief. Is your God friendly to creative endeavours? Describe a God that could be. Once you allow for the possibility of such a benevolent force, you may begin to see evidence of one.

I'm not saying the whole book is like that; there are many sections which aren't, dealing with more mundane matters like routine and places to write in and dealing with procrastination. However, this spiritual theme, and the idea of writing somehow channeling what a voice (your own? The universe's? I wasn't really sure), are both strong threads running through much of what is written. As an atheist myself, there's not a lot I can get out of ideas about writing as prayer or an exercise exhorting me to open my mind to the possibility of a god friendly to creative endeavours. This is why I suspect that others may find more to love in this book than I was able to - and may not find the occasional snarky comments about rationalism as irksome as I did.

That said, I did find some interesting ideas and suggestions in this book. I plan to try a handful of the writing prompts Cameron provides, for example, and I like her emphasis on the need to simply write, regularly and consistently, rather than agonising about having enough time or being able to write perfectly. In other words, I was interested in much of what she had to say about writing as a process, but less so in her ideas about the metaphysics of it all, which played a strong enough role in the book that I was left at the end feeling vaguely dissatisfied at what I had gleaned from a book which, to begin with, had seemed to promise me a lot more.
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Finished Reading
May 25, 2013 – Shelved

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message 1: by Tammy (new) - added it

Tammy Durm The Artist's Way is life changing.


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