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Enjoy Being Creative - You Have The Right To Write!

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Enjoy Being Creative - You Have The Right To Write!

Overcome false notions of what is and isn't 'real' writing and shine, says Julia Cameron
Julia Cameron
Julia Cameron More by this author
Dec 07, 2017 at 02:45 AM

We put a lot of bunk around the notion of being a writer. We make a big deal out of putting words on paper instead of simply releasing them to the air. We have a mythology that tells us that writing is a torturous activity. Believing that, we don’t even try it or, if we do, and if we find it unexpectedly easy, we stop, freeze up, and tell ourselves that whatever it is that we’re doing, it can’t be “real” writing.

By real writing we mean the kind we have all the mythology about. We mean the kind that does not involve scenarios like the one I had tonight: a dinner with my good friend Dori, watching Il Postino on video afterward, kissing Dori good-bye when it was still mid-evening, and strolling into my study to write just a little while little dog Maxwell curls at my feet.

There is something too casual, too effortless, too normal about this kind of writer’s life. It too closely resembles everyone else’s life— just with some writing sandwiched in. Why, if this is how a writer lives, lots of us could do it. If the suffering is actually optional, if writing needn’t be an antisocial activity . . .

What if there were no such thing as a writer? What if everyone simply wrote? What if there were no “being a real writer” to aspire to? What if writing were simply about the act of writing?

If we didn’t have to worry about being published and being judged, how many more of us might write a novel just for the joy of making one? Why should we think of writing a novel as something we couldn’t try—the way an amateur carpenter might build a simple bookcase or even a picnic table? What if we didn’t have to be good at writing? What if we got to do it for sheer fun?

What if writing were approached like white-water rafting? Something to try just for the fact of having tried it, for the spills and chills of having gone through the rapids of the creative process. What if we allowed ourselves to be amateurs (from the Latin verb amare, “to love”). If we could just get over the auditioning to be respected at this aspect, a great many people might love writing. Although our mythology seldom tells us this, it’s fun. When people undertake writing, it is often not with the agenda of writing but with the agenda of “becoming a writer.” We have an incredible amount of mystery, mystique, and pure bunk around exactly what the phrase means.

The bottom line, the fact that the act of writing makes you a writer, barely enters the equation at all. Instead, we come up with ideas like “Real writers are published,” or “Real writers make a living from their writing.” In a sense, we are saying, “Real writers get validation from others that they are writers. Their passport is stamped in ways that indicate they are writers. They have appeared in _____________. They have received quotes from ___________________.”

With mythology like this, with a product-not-process orientation like this, is it any wonder that the aspiring writer is seized by anxiety? Even those gifted with a silver tongue doubt that they are gifted with a silver pen. The blank page strikes them like a blank check where they may be asked to fill in an amount far larger than the talent they feel they possess.

“I’d love to be a writer. I just have no gift for it,” I’ve often been told by people whose gift of language is as clear as a neon sign.

“I’m a good talker, but I can’t write to save my life” is another thing I’ve been told quite often. Where do we get the idea that putting words on paper is so dangerous and so difficult?

There is something that often happens as people try to move onto the page: the fluidity they feel in talking suddenly freezes up. Every word becomes a commitment, a matter for intense scrutiny and selfabsorption. The blank page creates a sense of seriousness. Words that sounded fine suddenly look funny. We forget the term “rough draft” and want everything to emerge as well-polished gems. There’s no place for error, for colloquialisms, for the charming roundabouts. Our schooling kicks in and we remember all those rules for good writing: topic sentences, organization. . . .

Most of us think we can’t write. We think it’s something other people do—“writers.” Or, if you have a novice’s happy skill and amateur’s fervent love, it’s a name you reserve for the skill belonging to “real writers.” The kind of people who can march their thoughts like little soldiers, marshal their logical paragraphs like troops storming Normandy, a scintillating wave at a time.

It doesn’t have to be like that.

If we eliminate the word “writer,” if we just go back to writing as an act of listening and naming what we hear, some of the rules disappear. There is an organic shape, a form-coming-into-form that is inherent in the thing we are observing, listening to, and trying to put on the page. It has rules of its own that it will reveal to us if we listen with attention. Shape does not need to be imposed. Shape is part of what we are listening to. When we just let ourselves write, we get it “right.”

Banish your blocks and unleash your creativity today - read The Right to Write by Julia Cameron:

About Author
Julia Cameron
Julia Cameron has been teaching creativity workshops for a decade-and-a-half. Julia is an award-winning writer/director with extensive credits in TV, film, theater, and journalism. Continue reading