Geetanjali Mukherjee

Friday, July 18, 2014

Book Review: The Right to Write

This week, for the book review, I am going back to a classic book and one that I personally love, because it helped me overcome my blocks enough to start writing what I really wanted - even though it would be some years before I could see myself as a writer.

The book - The Right to Write: An Invitation and Initiation into the Writing Life, by Julia Cameron, author of best-selling creativity book The Artist's Way.

Rating: 5 stars

General Comments: The book is written in an easy-to-digest style, with short chapters. Each chapter is about one aspect of the writing life, with an essay, and a prompt, to get started writing. I normally never do writing prompts from books, but I went through almost all of the ones here, and found them insightful and fun. It's easy to read the book in an afternoon if so inclined, although you might want to pause to digest the information. It's also one of the staples on my shelf that I turn to over and over, for inspiration and wisdom.

3 Insights From The Book:

1. No separation between life and writing - one of the fundamental insights of this book, and one that I need reminding of often, is that there is no need to separate writing into something big and important, that you 'do', with a lot of pomp and ceremony. You can fit writing into your life as it is now, in between looking after children and dinners with friends and doctors' appointments. Julia makes it seem so simple - as if writing is as natural as breathing.

2. Just let yourself write - don't wait for the right time, or mood, or environment to write. Let yourself start where you are, how you are, without judging. This too is something that is easy to forget - because we often think, I need to figure out what I want to say, or I'm disturbed about what's going on around me, or I'm not really in the mood right now to produce great work. Sometimes, even when you think you can't get anything done, you can surprise yourself and write something you might not otherwise have done.

3. Time isn't the problem - a lot of beginning writers or would-be writers (and I was definitely in this category, actually I sometimes still am) think that you cannot really write unless you have a lot of time - at least half a day stretched out in front of you, or a few weeks (or months) of uninterrupted time to really flesh out your book (or other piece of writing). Julia points out, and this is something that I can attest to, that having a lot of time designated at "time to write" can actually create more blocks, as you suddenly feel pressure to do something amazing, or feel stressed that you have to spend so much time writing. On the other hand, sneaking in bits of writing here and there with a few spare minutes is exactly that, sneaky. Your inner perfectionist steps aside when you are only writing for a few minutes, because its not "real writing". That doesn't mean that having large amounts of time isn't helpful, it just means a lot can be accomplished even with just a few minutes here and there with patience and persistence.

These are just a few insights - the book contains indispensable and insightful advice on every page - advice that will help you reclaim your own right to write, and call yourself a writer, if that's what you really want.
Recommend For: This book is meant for anyone who wants to be a writer, or who wants to write anything. I would also say that it should be called The Right To Create - because really it applies to anyone who wants not only to write, and is blocked, but to any artist of any sort. I would recommend it for anyone who wants to write either fiction or non-fiction, for their own pleasure or publication.
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