Julia Cameron: How to write for life


06 January 2023
The writing guru sets out her top tips for establishing a writing habit

Julia Cameron, author of The Artists' Way, has a new inspirational writing guide out - Write for Life: A Toolkit for Writers, which is a six-weel Artist's Way Programme. Here, she provides advice for writers on how to achieve and sustain a regular writing habit.

What are the ideal conditions for creativity?
 An atmosphere of openness and curiosity leads to creativity. 
What’s your best advice for establishing a writing habit?
At this risk of sounding like a fanatic, I want to propose one of my tools – Morning Pages – it’s a daily practice of three pages of longhand morning writing about anything and everything.  Because there’s no wrong way to do Morning Pages they train us to trust ourselves and our ideas.
And for seeing a project through to completion?

I believe in setting what I call a daily quota — a low, doable amount of writing done daily.  Following the habit of daily accumulating pages makes finishing a project just another day.  
Why do so many writers struggle to complete a project?
Writers are afraid of being judged and that makes finishing a project seem risky.  Fear of criticism, a need for perfectionism —  these two demons make finalizing a project feel like an emotional risk.

What does your term ‘creative recovery’ mean?

All of us are born creative. But circumstances may squelch this spark.  Creative recovery means traveling the distance back to our original self.

 Why is the Write for Life program six weeks? What’s the significance of that time span?

In my experience as a teacher, six weeks is a magic amount of time.  It’s long enough to ground a writer in the daily practice of writing — and it’s short enough to keep the writer from becoming discouraged.  
What is the importance of setting targets (like a daily quota)?

Writers need encouragement. A daily quota coaxes writers into committing creativity.  
Why is perfectionism bad for writers?
Perfectionism is the enemy of creativity. It sets the bar impossibly high and creates a sense of failure if the bar is not met.
What are most important things that writers can do to make their writing flow?

I’d like to recommend two practices. The first, mentioned previously, is Morning Pages — they train us to be candid — to trust their thoughts and ideals. The second practice is writing by hand. There seems to be a direct connection between the hand and the heart. Writing by hand leads us forward an idea at a time. The flow that results is natural.
How do writers find their authentic voice?

Writers can find their authentic voice through the practice of Morning Pages and by handwriting their projects.  Writing by computer we can tend to “whizz” pass important points.  

Content continues after advertisements

Write for Life is published by Souvenir Press (£18.99)