Writing Book Review: The Right to Write by Julia Cameron

The Right to Write: An Invitation and Initiation into the Writing LifeThe Right to Write: An Invitation and Initiation into the Writing Life by Julia Cameron
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Writing–and this is the big secret–wants to be written. Writing loves a writer the way God loves a true devotee. Writing will fill up your heart if you let it. It will fill your pages and help you fill your life.”

In the midst of the huge learning curve that has been the publication of my first independent work, it was incredibly gratifying to be reminded of the reasons that I write — not for publication or attention or fans (although those things are all lovely!) but because of the way it nourishes my soul. The Right to Write was recommended to me by a good writer friend when I posted a wishlist of books relating to Writing as a Spiritual Practice, and this was a really lovely start to reading through that pile.

I recently described Paulette Bates Alden’s book, “Crossing the Moon,” as “nourishing,” and I can only use the same word to describe “The Right to Write.” My writer’s soul drank up Julia Cameron’s encouragement and affirmation like South Dakota soil drinks up rain in its drout years. Each essay contained wonderful advice and beautiful reminders about the things we know, deep down, about our writing: that it matters to us, and even to the world, regardless of who sees it or how they react to it. I appreciated its focus squarely on writing as a process rather than a product, and its ability to separate the two without denigrating either one. In some places the essays felt a little meandering or even self-satisfied, and yet, this is a style that “works” for a book about letting writing flow to you and through you. And despite that, this book is not “rough” in any way — one can see the creative whir beneath the finished product, and yet the finished product is still, indisputably, polished.

I haven’t yet done any of the writing exercises (“initiations”) at the end of each chapter, but I feel confident that sinking into them when I’m finished writing from “A Year in the Life” will give me an even deeper appreciation for this book.

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