A Glimmer A Day

Review: "Write For Life, A Toolkit For Writers" by Julia Cameron

15 March 2024

I’ve just completed the final session of the six-week ‘Write for Life’ course facilitated by the wonderful Eve Earley’s Empowering Change over Zoom. The jury is in - it’s been great craic (and also very useful). I live in Brisbane, Australia so there was a bit of a time difference- my 5 am Thursday morning up with the lark (cockatoo) compared to the rest of the group’s 7pm Wednesday (I’m missing Emmerdale for this) wind down in Northern Ireland. Funnily enough, the dress code turned out to be comfortable PJ’s for everyone and in my case bed hair chic.

From the first session, Eve’s welcoming and gentle manner made me feel at ease. At no point was there any pressure to talk or share opinions but anything you did say was respectfully listened to and included in the conversation. My awkward neurodivergent self usually finds group sessions torturous (when the feck is it my turn to speak?) however, in this small group of lovely, open-hearted, creative, funny humans I felt safe to vomit words about my writing projects and all other random stuff the book brought up… it’s a safe space. Mary even sent me a video of her donkey Bowie joyfully frolicking in a field after a long winter in his shed, I mean come on, you don’t get better than that!

So onto the course. It’s structured around Julia Cameron’s book Write for Life, A Toolkit For Writers and each week we read one of the six chapters, completed the tasks at the end of each chapter then joined together via Zoom to chat. If you don’t have time to complete the tasks there’s no detention or retribution, it doesn’t matter, Eve is an amiable and knowledgeable host who makes it easy to join in regardless of how much time you’ve spent on the chapter. Oh and if you’re late to the Zoom call there’s no punishment penalty burpees- you definitely won’t get trauma from doing this course!

Cameron begins by advising the reader on how best to use the book and the tools you will need to achieve the most out of it. Let’s get one thing straight, this book is stuffed full of artistic wisdom and also awash with good old plain common sense. I especially enjoyed the little pearls of wisdom quotes from writers placed strategically around the edges. “Writing is the only thing that when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.” - Gloria Steinem.

One of the tools Cameron suggests is an ‘Artist Date’. This is where we have to take ourselves off on a solo weekly date to a café, or a museum or a park, just have a nice time and allegedly it helps to get our creative juices flowing! Yes, please! When you have been married as long as I have and a ‘date’ is a shrivelled grape that keeps you regular, any excuse to get out of the house for an adventure is welcome.

Another useful tool, first made popular in her bestselling book, ‘The Artist’s Way’, is Morning Pages. This one I did not expect to take to as well as I did, as forming habits, unless ‘bad’ habits, do not come easily. Strangely enough, this has become my favourite tool of all. Morning pages are like writing a journal. As soon as you wake up, when you are still half asleep, and half in a dream-like state, you grab your notebook and you just write. Anything at all, even if it’s a load of bollocks, it’s all good and all part of the process. You can write how you are feeling, things that happened yesterday or things that are coming up today that are anxiety-inducing, or write about your glimmers (things that bring you joy). You can write about your hopes and dreams, or pen a derogatory description of some dickhead who pissed you off last week and it’s still rankling. Your Morning Pages are for your eyes only so go hog wild, fill your boots and just write your wee heart out, fill a couple of pages every day. Cameron describes it as like ‘sending a telegram to the universe’. The point is it gets you back into the habit of writing regularly and it sets you up for the day- before you have even gotten out of bed to do your morning wee, you’ll have already achieved something. You’ll feel good and a bit proud of yourself. Are crackerjack pencils still a thing? You’ll deserve one!

The book also deconstructs the myth of who and what a writer is- we mere mortals often have the idea that published writers are these mystical, magical creatures who have a never-ending river of original ideas and who possess a special talent that we just don’t. Cameron reassures us that all writers regardless of how successful or published they are, are often struck with the same stumbling blocks and limiting beliefs as we are. There is so much sage advice on everything from perfectionism to the inner critic, to fear, procrastination, how to get over the wall, deal with rejection or toxic friends and simply how to trust the process.

One week we had a great discussion on quieting our inner critics and apparently it’s a good idea to name them. The group called our collective inner critic ‘Nigel’ (apologies to any Nigel’s out there, no doubt you are all delightful and highly supportive beings). You’ll find some great videos on YouTube if you search up ‘Passengers on the Bus’ metaphor based on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. Basically in life, we each have a bus and we are the bus drivers. We all have critical passengers (our inner critics) who get on at various stops in our lives. These passengers echo the voices of perhaps a critical parent, or other nasty relatives, a bully, a teacher, an ex lover, a boss, a frenemy etc anyone who caused trauma or affected our self-esteem at some point. We can drive around the same roads allowing our passengers to dictate the route and continue to cause us harm or we can turn the radio up to drown out their voices and take a different road to somewhere we want to go.

I could go on and on. There so many cool things I haven’t even mentioned about Julia’s book and Eve’s course but it’s getting late, my old back is starting to ache and I’m also starting to bore myself. Luckily for you the next Write For Life course is coming up really soon. If you are interested the best thing to do is get in touch with Eve at Empowering Change and she will sort you out and explain things in a much more eloquent way. And remember, you may currently think you are not a writer but as old mate Epictetus put it so plainly ‘If you wish to be a writer, write.‘

P.S. if you are interested in starting writing or simply getting your creative mojo back, Eve from Empowering Change has generously offered A Glimmer A Day followers an amazing 50% discount using the code alumni for any of her upcoming programmes.

Check out her website empowering-change.com/courses for more information and have a chat with her.

Maybe 2024 is the year to do something just for you, the stuff that brings you joy and get your creative spark back? Find your glimmers, you are worth it! 🥰✨️ 💫

Linda xx