Exercising the Right to Write

Julia Cameron, author of The Right to Write, says, “We should write because it is human nature to write…because humans are spiritual beings and writing is a powerful form of prayer and meditation, connecting us both to our own insights and to a higher and deeper level of inner guidance as well…

“We should write, above all, because we are writers whether we call ourselves writers or not. The Right to Write is a birthright, a spiritual dowry that gives us the keys of the kingdom. Higher forces speak to us through writing. Call them inspiration, the Muses, Angels, God, Hunches, Intuition, Guidance, or simply a good story – whatever you call them, they connect us to something larger than ourselves that allows us to live with greater vigor and optimism.”

This is a whole new way of looking at something that I’ve done all my life. For me, writing was not particularly spiritual or enlightening, but infinitely more basic, and not especially glamorous – like scratching an itch, or letting a pet out to do its business in the garden. It was something I did to appease an impulse, a soundless voice, that woke up now and then inside of me, insisting on being let out. If I tried to ignore it, it resorted to begging and then to torture.

I’ve been scribbling ever since I was a small child but selfishly, for most of my life I kept my writing to myself. Secretly I thought that some of it was actually quite good, but I wasn’t so sure that others would feel the same way, and I didn’t want to risk criticism, ridicule, or even worse, smiling tolerance and a pat on the head.

As I grew older, writing went from something I hid to something I outright denied. Writing was all very well when you wanted to lose yourself in another world, exorcise a demon, or bring a fantasy to life, but it didn’t do much to pay the bills or put food on the table. And so for a while I stopped writing altogether.

Thankfully, I think the line that’s my writing life is starting to curve back on itself to come full circle. I’ve found a genre I’m comfortable in – narrative journalism – and which I’m becoming quite passionate about, because it enables me to tell stories but at the same time remain grounded in reality, and because it brings together everything I love: words and people.

So here’s to writing, living with greater vigor and optimism, and never being selfish again.


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