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The Right to Write: An Invitation and Initiation into the Writing Life Paperback – December 27, 1999

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Editorial Reviews Review

Writing, for Julia Cameron, is neither solely vocation nor avocation: it is a way of life. It comes first thing in the morning, while the horses are waiting to be fed; it happens at the kitchen counter, while the onions are sautéing; it takes place on "dates" at café tables shared with likeminded friends; it unfurls in the mind as the '65 pickup "bucks over the rutted dirt roads like a stiff-legged bronco." The more than 40 brief personal essays that make up The Right to Write are an unyielding affirmation of the writing life and a denigration of all that gets in the way: busy schedules, procrastination, insecurity, lack of writing space, a day job--you get the point. Cameron's commonsense advice is liberating to anyone who has felt hampered by making a big deal out of writing (this "tends to make writing difficult. Keeping writing casual tends to keep it possible"), by not having the time to write ("Get aggressive. Steal time"), or the like. If you find a spirit that compares writing to revelation, prayer, and Zen pursuits, that might just attribute misguided communication to Mercury retrograde simpatico, then you will find much to embrace here. And you will never, never again dream of waiting for that commitment-free sabbatical in the south of France to get your writing project under way. --Jane Steinberg --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

In a flowing sequence of personal essays and exercises (many of them reprises from her bestselling The Artist's Way), Cameron seeks to help readers enjoy writing as a natural, joyful process. "All of us have a sex drive. All of us have a drive to write." She offers advice on how to get over the stiffness or outright paralysis that creeps in when people make writing a "Big Deal." Wholeheartedly believing in writing as a process that connects us to the divine, whether we experience that finer source as internal or external, Cameron is refreshingly real. She invites readers to make use of the interruptions and torments as well as the sensual pleasures of their lives (for example, through the creation of a real or imaginary "Wall of Infamy," using memories of people who have hurt them) as a source of energy that can be focused to write their way "clear of rage, frustration, and negativity." Acknowledging that she is "a sort of creative nurse practitioner," Cameron, telling the stories behind some of her own stories and poems, shows how writing can lead us down into the most vibrant parts of ourselves, to the very source of health. Although she covers much of the same territory she explored in The Artist's Way, Cameron's prose and anecdotes sparkle with fresh, lived experience, demonstrating that when the subject is creativity, a writer really can't enter the same stream twice.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 236 pages
  • Publisher: Tarcher; Reprint edition (December 27, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1585420093
  • ISBN-13: 978-1585420094
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.7 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (131 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #42,430 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Julia Cameron has been an active artist for more than thirty years. She is the author of more than thirty books, fiction and nonfiction, including her bestselling works on the creative process: The Artist's Way, Walking in This World, Finding Water, and The Writing Diet. A novelist, playwright, songwriter, and poet, she has multiple credits in theater, film, and television.

Latest endeavor: Julia Cameron Live, an online course and artists' community led by Julia. It is the most comprehensive discussion she has ever done on The Artist's Way, and the first time she has allowed cameras in her home.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

101 of 102 people found the following review helpful By C. Fletcher on July 9, 2001
Format: Paperback
Just keep doing it, even when you don't feel like doing it, or when you don't think you have anything worthwhile to say. You'll stop thinking of writing as some mystical activity that can only be done in a dreamlike state. Writing will become a commonplace activity that you can do without any undue anxiety.
That's what Julia Cameron wants you to realize about writing--that it can be a daily activity, like brushing your teeth, or taking a bath, somethinig that you just do. I've spent a good portion of my life wanting to be a writer, but not writing. When I was a kid, I wrote stories all the time, and didn't care how good they were. Then one day I grew up and became self-conscious, and the flow of writing stopped.
For the last fourteen years, I've kept myself pretty busy thinking of one thing after another to do instead of writing. I've made mix tapes, I've cleaned my room, I've gone shopping, spent time with friends, gone on walks, listened to music, and when I was feeling adventurous, even thought about writing, but I've done very little actual writing.
Last year, I read Julia Cameron's "The Artist's Way" and found it very inspiring. As with this book, you can't read a chapter without feeling a charge of life-force.
I think my icy self-critic is finally starting to melt some. I didn't want to come to the computer this morning and write this review, but I did it anyway, and it wasn't so bad. Before reading Julia Cameron's books, I would have sat paralyzed at the keyboard, spending forty-five minutes on the first sentence. I've now spent about ten minutes writing the whole review so far.
I think it's a good thing, as Julia Cameron suggests in this book, to think of writing as just another component of life.
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72 of 78 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 24, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I began my career teaching Composition at a state university campus. One day I was chatting with a colleague, a crusty old veteran who was the embodiment of everyone's Least Favorite English Teacher. She declared, "I don't care if they write only one paper all semester -- I make them rewrite it until it's PERFECT." I countered, "I don't care if they don't write one perfect paper all semester -- I make them keep WRITING."
This explains what I like about Julia Cameron: she's taken a whole generation who were intimidated by teachers like my ex-colleague into thinking "I'm not a writer," and made them into fluent, passionate, comfortable writers. Even for the experienced writer, her suggestions are great for jump-starting you at times when the inner censor is remorseless or you "just don't feel like writing." And she's an expert at puncturing your "I can't write because" excuses; those sections alone are worth the price of the book. I found it much easier going than "The Artist's Way": she's kept it concise, and downplayed the religion and the Twelve-Step-isms that some readers (myself included) found off-putting; but at the same time she's provided more of the practical and powerful exercises that were, I feel, the great strength of that book.
That said, I still found this book somewhat unsatisfying for two reasons. First, although the scenes from her daily life are excellent examples of vivid description, I could have done with a little less of her idyllic existence in the mountains and more practical suggestions for those of us who don't have total freedom to structure our writing time! And second, although her method provides a wonderful way for anyone to get started as a writer, she doesn't answer the next pressing question: "Now that I know I CAN write, where do I go from here?"
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32 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Rose Keefe VINE VOICE on February 18, 2006
Format: Paperback
I am not normally a fan of writer's inspiration books like this one, primarily because they are so addicting. A blocked or fearful writer can quickly fill their shelves up with books that explain and examine their literary malaise. On one hand, it can be a huge relief to have your problem recognized in print and read case histories about other writers who eventually made it through. But on the other, you run the risk of drowning in self-exploration and doing nothing practical to get yourself writing again.

Julia Cameron deals with writer's block and other triumphs and obstacles in practical terms. In "The Right to Write", she uses equal measures of encouragement and gentle sarcasm to turn aspiring and blocked writers into active practitioners of their craft. Her message is simple: write, and do it daily. Even if what you come up with is not publication quality, the act of doing makes writing a routine endeavor instead of an occasional challenge.

If you're serious about seeing your name in print one day, self-analysis will only take you so far. Julia Cameron offers practical advice that will bring you much closer to your goal.
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48 of 52 people found the following review helpful By S. K. Yamada on May 3, 2000
Format: Paperback
I found Julia Cameron's voice to be strong and true. She has an excellent solution for every problem a writer could possibly have. In beautiful prose interspersed with personal snapshots from her life, she insists that writing is natural and easy.
Can't find a publisher? Cameron suggests self-publishing. Lost confidence because of remarks made by your "friends"? Surround youself with friendly readers. Nothing to write about? Go on Artist Dates to fill that empty well. Can't spell? Use spell check.
Cameron reinforces everything that is positive about writing and strips away any excuses you may have for not writing. By the end of the book, you will be sitting at one of the writing stations you've created following Cameron's advice with plenty of Morning Pages and lists of your proudest achievements and completed writing exercises to draw from, and there will be nothing left to do but write. With Julia Cameron in your corner, you cannot fail.
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