The Right to Write is Julia Cameron’s follow up book to The Artist’s Way, written especially for writers. Cameron includes more of her wisdom and encouragement, many fun and challenging writing exercises, as well as the staple Morning Pages and Artist Date suggestions made famous in The Artist’s Way.
The Right to Write was the first Julia Cameron book I read, and when I finished it I couldn’t wait to get hold of The Artist’s Way, which Cameron refers to often. I’m glad I own both books, although I suppose it’s not necessary as either gives plenty of exercises to get you off a block – enough that you don’t need to move on to another book and keep going. I enjoy the variation, though, and I like having one book for my artist side and one for my writer side.
The Right to Write is a bit more “in your face”, and less gentle and guiding than The Artist’s Way – more like a conversation and less like a tutorial. It’s as if Cameron feels she’s done the gentle teaching of a child to swim and now it’s time to say, “If you don’t swim, you’ll drown.” She offsets this tone with a number of meandering journal-like stories of her life and situations she’s faced that illustrate her point. It’s very much like listening to a wise aunt, in whose footsteps you’re attempting to follow, mirrored in the stories she tells about lessons learned from her grandmother. She even shares some of her poetry.
Cameron asks some important and probing questions in this book. For example, if you had a great stretch of time open to you, would you use it to write that book you’re longing to write? Or would you waste it on being blocked? Do you have an inner voice telling you you have nothing to write about? Do you believe that you are a writer? Does your writing take up too much space in your life?
The Right to Write is well worth a read, and is likely to be a book you’ll refer to often.
This article was first published on BellaOnline in 2005. © Elsa Neal