Give Yourself the Right to Write
This week The Amys and I dived into our collection of books to share a particular selection on writing that might benefit others. Have you ever been to your local bookstore or library and checked out the section on writing? It can be daunting to try to pick one on your own. That’s why we’re here to help. If you haven’t already read The Amys’ reviews, do go check them out here and here.
Narrowing down the right book to pick up depends entirely on what stage of your writing life you’re at. Are you struggling through your first work of fiction? Is your novel done, but you can’t wrap your head around a query letter? Are revisions kicking your butt? Is there a tickling of a story waiting for you to put pen to paper? There are scores of books for each topic.
For my selection I’ve decided to head back to the beginning. I’m singling out the one book that planted the seed in my head that writing is something I could accomplish and shouldn’t be a dirty little secret of my life’s goals. That book is The Right to Write by Julia Cameron.
I recommend this book for the beginning writer or the newer writer that is struggling to get his or her thoughts on the page. This book is NOT about form or structure or how to get an agent or publisher to read your work. Cameron has intended this book not so much as a How To of prose but a Why.
The book is filled with essays that Cameron calls “invitation[s] to explore a certain area.” At the end of each is an exercise she deems an “initiation” into that same area. Through these invitations/initiations she forces the writer to take a look at his or herself and create a confidence and joy in the sheer act of writing.
One of the things Cameron suggests is to take on what she calls Morning Pages. Put simply, Morning Pages consist of starting your day with three pages of stream of conscious writing. That’s it. Simple? Try it for ninety days and let me know you did.
She also puts forth the Artist Date, cheap tricks to get you writing, and many other useful tools to get your pen to page. When I started on this crazy path to publication, this book helped me get my bearings as a writer before I began slogging through industry standards, expectations and best practices. Often times I when in need of a reminder on why I do this, I pick up Julia Cameron’s book and repeat the cycle.
If you like the idea behind The Right to Write but are looking for something a bit more structured, try The Artist’s Way. All of the concepts presented in TRtW and more are structured into a twelve week program to unlock your inner creative self. See which book might suit you best and give it a try.
Ms. Cameron puts it best when she says, “Just as a good rain clears the air, a good writing day clears the psyche.” Do your psyche a favor. Go get some writing done.