Julia Cameron 's 5 Rules For Aspiring Writers
Articles Inspirational articles from Hay House authors
Julia Cameron 's 5 Rules For Aspiring WritersDiscover your creative potential with these literary tips from the author of The Artist's Way
To begin at the beginning, that is precisely the place to start. A writer’s first thoughts are often the best. And so, in initiating a piece of writing, start where you are. For example, I am sitting in a large leather chair: my writing chair. Turning my thoughts to creation, I start with the chair. Its comfort fills me with ease. And so, I begin, comforted and not stressed.
As it happens, I am not ‘in the mood’ to write, but I have learned that mood doesn’t matter. Any mood is a mood to write from. And so I start, seated in the leather chair, grumpy.
I do not feel fluent, but I have learned over my many years of writing that fluency is a luxury. At times I will be ‘in the mood’ and at other times not. I have learned that the writing can be quite good in either case. It is simply a matter of ‘dropping down the well’ and recording what I find there. I don’t second-guess myself; instead, I am faithful to what I hear.
A sense of direction is important here: if I try to ‘think something up’, there will be strain. If I try to ‘take something down’, there will be ease. Thinking something up, I am reaching for concepts that may be beyond my reach. Taking something down is more like taking dictation. The ideas are ready for my pen. I can often write quite quickly when I simply listen for what needs to be heard.
Writing quickly is an ideal for all of us, and it brings us squarely to the notion that we must have a great swath of time in order to begin writing at all. The truth is quite different. We can begin writing with only a little time to spare, just as I am doing right now, using the moments available to me quickly before a photographer arrives moments from now. I have found that even the scantest amount of time can be productive, and so we’ve arrived at a third rule: use the time you’ve got.
To summarize, we have three rules: begin where you’re at, ignore your mood, write in the time that you’ve got. There is a fourth rule, which is a little bit fancier: allow yourself rough drafts. When in doubt, put ‘it’ in. It’s better to have an overstuffed and juicy first draft than an over-pruned one. It is easy to take things out and far harder to put things in.
Our fifth and final rule may strike you as ‘woo-woo’. It is simply this: be alert to help from the universe. You’ll often find hunches and intuitions of what to include. A screenwriter may overhear dialogue. A poet may stumble across a precise turn of phrase. Remember that artists love other artists, and the great artist loves to help us all.
Editor's Note: Julia Cameron will be one of the lead instructors at the 2016 Hay House Writer's Workshop in London, England on the 19th & 20th of November. Learn more about the event in this video from Hay House UK's CEO Michelle Pilley: