I first found The Right to Write by Julia Cameron when I was in college. It was an assigned book for my writing class. We were only assigned sections of it, but I have since read the whole thing twice. I’m going to come right out and say that it’s one of my favorite books on writing I’ve come across.
Like before, this review will be broken into four sections: What this book is, what this book isn’t, how it can help you, and do I recommend it.
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The subtitle of this book is “An Invitation and Initiation into the Writing Life,” which is incredibly appropriate. I had always thought of this book as a type of writing life guide before I even realized it was right on the cover. This book does, in fact, invite you to write and give you the tools to get started. It’s broken into 43 short chapters that discuss common issues most writers face.
In each chapter, Cameron first discusses the issue, giving her thoughts and advice, while including some personal stories from either her friends, her students, or herself. Then she ends each chapter with an initiation tool, which is designed to get you writing while confronting the issues she discussed in the chapter. These tools can also help broaden your perspective and build good writing habits.
The bottom line: The Right to Write is a positive, supportive, and encouraging guide to living a happy writing life. I think it can be helpful to all writers, no matter where they are in their writing journey.
What This Book Isn’t
Like Bird by Bird, this book isn’t a guide to getting published. It doesn’t give career promises or guarantees. This book doesn’t have prompts or craft-based exercises but does include initiation tools as mentioned above. It also isn’t a super technical craft book. As in, it doesn’t spend chapters dedicated to breaking down character, plot, or point-of-view. Some of those topics are touched on in different capacities, but Cameron’s focus is more on getting you writing and helping to build a happy and productive writing life.
How It Can Help You
The biggest way this book can help you is by taking the pressure off of writing. Each chapter has a singular idea or focus. Cameron explores these ideas on the page and gives advice on how to apply her ideas to your work. She has this way of simplifying writing and making it feel incredibly accessible. What makes this book so helpful is that Cameron doesn’t just tell you that you should use some of her techniques and approaches, she actually tells you how. The initiation tools at the end of each chapter are specific tasks or mini assignments designed to help you implement the chapter’s focus into your own writing practice. These tools can help you think about your writing differently, and maybe even unlock an area of your writing life that you’ve been struggling with.
This book can help you grow and give you a healthy, positive outlook on what it means to be a writer.
Do I Recommend It?
Clearly, I recommend this book. The first time I read it, I was swept up. Cameron’s philosophy is one that has always resonated with me. If you like writing attitude and approach you find on this blog, then I’m sure you’ll appreciate this book just as much. Julia Cameron has something for everyone, no matter where you are in your writing journey. If you’re new to writing, Cameron is the perfect motivator. If you’ve been writing for years, she can remind you why you started in the first place. This book isn’t just about how to write; it’s about living your best writing life. Early in the first chapter, Cameron says, “Writing is like breathing. I believe that.” I believe that too. It’s the core of my philosophy, and I believe it’s the core of Cameron’s too. It’s a big reason why I can’t recommend this book enough.
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Now it’s your turn: Have you read this book? If you have, did it help you? If you haven’t, do you want to? Tell me in the comments! You can also let me know what you’d like to see covered more in the future.