The Right to Write: Write from Love (week 2)



In the fall of 2000 I started writing a novel. The only creative writing I had done up to that point in my life was angst-ridden teenage poems and journal entries. I don’t know why the urge hit me when it did, but I can tell you the precise minute the desire washed over me. I remember where I was. I remember who I was with. I remember exactly what we were doing.

I was smitten.

Those first few months were a whirlwind. I wrote every spare second I could find. At the time, I had a one-year-old and three-year-old to care for, so the days were full. Oh, yes, and there was this: I didn’t want anyone to know I was writing.

I was painfully embarrassed by what seemed to be an impossible dream. I felt silly and impractical. But I couldn’t help it. The story filled my mind every waking second. It begged to be told.

My husband traveled a good bit for work during those early years, and though I missed him when he was away, my electronic typewriter (aka Herman) was a welcome consolation. I still remember how it felt when I pulled old Herman out from under the bed. My hands would shake, my whole body tremble; my heart rate accelerated and my tummy filled with butterflies.

I was in love.

While I no longer hide my desire to write, I understand some of what Julia Cameron says in this week’s book club readings from The Right to Write: An Invitation and Initiation into the Writing Life:

If we learn to write from the sheer love of writing, there is always enough time, but time must be stolen like a quick kiss between lovers on the run…

Cameron addresses The Time Lie this week–that is, the excuse we all have made that we just don’t have enough time to write.

The trick to finding writing time, then, is to write from love and not with an eye to product…The obsession with time is really an obsession with perfection. We want enough time to write perfectly…Nothing communicates more clearly than love…When we let ourselves write from love, when we let ourselves steal minutes as gifts to ourselves, our lives become sweeter…

When I wrote that first novel, I sometimes would stay up until two or three in the morning … writing. I simply couldn’t tear myself away. This with two toddlers in the house. The added sleep deprivation was worth it to me. If I got home early from work, I drug Herman out…even for a meager twenty minutes! When my husband went for a run, I would write. I looked for opportunities to be alone with my typewriter. I never missed a chance to rendezvous with Herman.

Cameron refers to this “grabbing” of time as “more like making a patchwork quilt than unfolding bolts of limitless and serene silk.”

I understand, Julia. I understand.

This chapter especially spoke to me, helping me recall my first love. This week we also read how writing helps us map our interiors (laying track) and how “in order to be a good writer,” we have “to be willing to be a bad writer.”

What spoke to you in this week’s readings? Was there a particular initiation tool that got the creative juices flowing?

Three more chapters for next week. That’s This Writing Life through Drama. See you there!

Week 1: Start Where You Are
Introduction: Invitation

Image by Lívia Cristina L. C., sourced via Flickr, used with permission.


  1. says

    First, I want to know—what happened to that novel? Did you finish it? Publish it? Is it under the bed having an affair with Herman?
    Second, I have to say that I’ve never done a “book club” before, but I like this online idea of one. It eliminates the female hen chatter, and just focuses on the book.

    Ok, so third–I am SO glad I picked up this book. It has literally freed me from this weight I’ve been under. I took my book proposal on Overcoming Negativity to the writer’s conference I attended in July, and was told that first time authors really need to write the whole book before an agent, editor or publisher will look at it. The three chapter with the proposal thing doesn’t fly with newbies. I was also told that while it was written well, it needs something–an angle, a twist. I set it aside. I was tired of it. (I became negative). I’ve been focusing on blogging, building the platform…yet, at the same time saying, “I just don’t have time.” That line: The obsession with time is really an obsession with perfection.” hit me in the face. Yes, that is it! I can’t write unless it is perfect. No first drafts for me! OY!

    Laying Track—when I started writing about what would be fun to write, I saw a theme. Everything I write or want to write is laced with humor (or sarcasm-same thing). When I let that thought grow, I realized that the theme, Overcoming Negativity, while I had the basics, the chapter outlines down, they were sort of too serious and dry. I needed that twist, that angle, and it had to be in keeping with HOW I WRITE, not how I think it should be written! God just dropped the twist into my brain and, while I’m still working it out, I think it can work. So, I basically scrap the whole 3 chapters I’ve written (at least it was only 3), but not completely-they can be rewritten and reused somewhere. The whole point of this dissertation is that I’m excited because it sounds like it will be FUN to write! I’m loving this book and this discussion. Without my Wednesday group, I may be tempted to say it’s another great book, but put it down in the pile with the 50,000 other books I’m reading.

    Thanks for this great read, Laura!

    • says

      Yay, Mary! That’s wonderful! Sometimes I need to set projects aside before they become clear to me too. This is a good lesson for me to hear. As for my novel, it’s been set aside for sooo many years! It’s my favorite book I’ve ever written because it symbolizes so much of what I fell in love with about writing. But I would need to re-write much of it to ever feel comfortable letting it see the light of day since my voice has changed and grown over the years. But maybe, just maybe, I’ll find the time. 🙂

  2. says

    My apologies, Laura. As usual my heart ran far ahead of my practical realities. I just can’t seem to fit this in right now. I so wanted to be a part of it, but there are so many things on my plate right now. Hopefully we can keep in touch? xoxo

    • says

      I understand how that is, Linda :). I’m always saying yes before I think it through :). No worries, and yes, we need to stay in touch! ((hugs in the midst of your busy)).

    • says

      Just do it! But why is that so hard sometimes? I’ve been working on a sermon all week and Julia’s words are helping me do the hard work of getting something down. Then I will edit later. As always, getting started is my hardest part…

  3. says

    I’ve never written a novel. I admire those who can dedicate their time to pursuing it. I’m sure it’s never easy. But wow, that’s an exciting venture!

  4. says

    I am loving this book and hating that it has sat too long unread on my desk! I already know that I will be reading this again and again. Recovering perfectionists need frequent reminders, right?! Looking forward to that moment when all the words etch the page with a freedom from expectation…to write just to write and worry about the rightness at another time.

    • says

      I’m so glad you are enjoying it, Denise! It is one of my favorite writing books–I think because it always inspires me to write. There is something so freeing in Julia’s perspective that opens up my creative self. Yes, let go of that striving for perfection! Tell us all your stories 🙂

  5. says

    I loved what you shared, Laura! It was like that for me too, beginning in a year later in 2001. I finished the entire novel before telling anyone about it. I still feel funny telling people about my writing. My husband always tells people we meet that I’m a writer and I always feel a bit embarrassed about it. I think it’s because I know the idea that comes to their mind when they think of a writer isn’t really what I am at all! Maybe I can get him to start using the term scribe, lol.

    I’m still processing Julia’s chapter on time. I agree with her, but knowing something and putting it into action is two different things. I know how I am when I write, focused and immersed in other worlds. Plugging that in to stolen moments seems like more of a stressor than anything else at the moment. I’m trying to see all the times when I CAN write, and not focus on the times when I CAN’T. As I say, still processing. Good stuff, looking forward to the next three chapters!

  6. Aliyah says

    Hey Laura
    I love what you shared above. God is really showing me this reality in my life at the moment. In 2013 I fell ill and was at home alot. During that time I started writing, birthing in the Holy Spirit this beautiful novel, a message that God gave me. I spent hours under the sky, watching the sunset, watching the stars appear all with a pen and paper in my hand, writing. It felt like lying on a beach in the Carribean watching beuaty weave every bit of itself in to this story. I didnt intend for it to be published or to see light but a year later God told me to submit it and I signed my publishing contract this year. Before I signed that contract I started my second one and it was beautiful unti lthe publisher asked to see it and then I lost the beauty, the poetry, the message. It’s exactly true – when it becomes about the product and about the perfection, I just cant do it. I just cannot create and so I have sat back and asked God with tears to work in my heart. To change this. I am a writer and when I write from a deep place within, thats the truest place and I love from there. I cannot write from perfection because its fear based, and fear blocks this Perfect Love. May God restore this sparkle and this passion, I know He will. Thank you for being part of His inspiration, a tool to remind me of these lessons again. Many Blessings!

    • says

      Oh, friend, I am praying with you that this dry spell will be quenched and soon. The story of your writer beginnings is beautiful. You only need to find that way back to love. Praying for you, dear one.

      • Aliyah says

        Thank you precious sister, the prayers are appreciated. May God bless you and keep you this week as you journey in His footsteps. Many blessings and thanks for the


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