Julia Cameron’s The Writing Diet – One of My Favorite Books for Writers
A Review of Julia Cameron’s The Writing Diet: Write Yourself Right-Size
I have come to think of The Writing Diet as the diet that isn’t really a diet. I see where the title comes from, since following the plan does bring weight loss and greater overall health. In my experience, it also brings heightened creativity, a clear and well focused mind, and enhanced confidence. This has become one of my favorite books for writers because it nourishes all parts of me: inside and out.
You get so many benefits from following this one little book, yet you never feel like you are on a diet. You never feel deprived. You never sit next to your friends eating scrumptious food while you nibble on lettuce.
While the unique methods presented in the book will definitely be attractive to writers, The Writing Diet is not just for writers. You don’t have to create bestseller stories or thoughtful poems to benefit from this book. While this is one of my favorite books for writers, it is far more than just a book to encourage or teach writers. It is also far more than just another diet plan.
Who Is Julia Cameron?
Julia Cameron has written thirty books, but is most known for one book: The Artist’s Way. She started teaching courses on creativity in her living room and eventually took those lessons and turned them into this book, which has now sold more than four million copies around the world. It is one of those timeless books that writers will no doubt continue to buy well after Julia Cameron has left the world. It is also another one of my favorite books for writers.
As a writer, Julia Cameron is rather impressive. She has published books, creative essays, and fictional works. She has had her work featured in Rolling Stone, The New York Times, and other very impressive publications. She is well known in the theater and film worlds as well, where her credits are equally as impressive. She definitely has the potential to unleash creativity in her own life, and it has served her well.
The Birth of The Writing Diet
All strategies in this book were born from Julia Cameron’s experience teaching Artist’s Way courses to hundreds of thousands of artists. She noticed a startling difference in the body weight and appearance of many people going through her workshops. She notes in The Writing Diet that many participants lose substantial amounts of weight, even though weight loss is a target of her creativity courses. She also noted that people entering the workshops appearing depressed and disheveled often left the courses smiling and well put together.
With time, Julia Cameron put her finger on what was causing those amazing transformations. The Writing Diet is her presentation of the key points believed to be behind that weight loss. I have lost weight following the strategies in this book, but I have also grown far more creative and open to the world. That is exactly why this is one of the best books for writers: you get the benefits of a diet, but it comes from the realm of creativity.
The Writing Diet is one of my favorite books for writers because it taught me how to control my weight while enhancing creativity in my work. I used to think that being overweight was just a part of being a writer. This book proved me wrong! In fact, i believe I am a better writer now that I am more active.
Julia Cameron does not serve up recipes or strict dietary guidelines in this book. You will not be told to do yoga or to spend money on a gym membership. You will not be told what to do with every moment of your day. This is more of a lifestyle guidance book than a dieting book. You will find solid and effective techniques for living an active, healthy, and well balanced life.
What’s Inside the Book?
The Writing Diet starts out with a personal note from Julia Cameron saying that she is an expert on creativity, not dieting. She talks about the amazing physical transformations that have come indirectly for participants in her Artist’s Way workshops. She then moves into the tools of the dieting program, which are as follows:
- Food Journal
- Daily Walks
- Culinary Artist Dates
- 4 Questions
- HALT Rule
Artist dates and morning pages are central techniques for the Artist’s Way program. You will not find them in any other diet book on the market today, but they are powerful keys to staying healthy, focused and open to creativity as writers. These two tools are the pieces that connect your health and body weight to your writing.
I was skeptical at first, but after following both of these Julia Cameron books for a considerable length of time, I have seen the amazing transformation firsthand. I will be writing morning pages and going on artist dates (culinary and otherwise) until the day I die.
The food journal and daily walks can be found in many other programs, but the way they are used in The Writing Diet is unique. You don’t have to power walk uphill for an hour each day to fulfill this plan and lose weight. You head out for at least twenty minutes a day and use it as time to think things through, stretch your legs, and get out of the confines of the writing environment.
My walks were very hard at first, but now they easily turn into two hour adventures that send me back home with tons of creative ideas for future writing projects. I have solved many problems through my walks! In the words of Julia Cameron: “I walk out of the house with problems and I walk back in with solutions.”
Two chapters of the book give a unique approach to dietary guidelines for weight loss. Rather than being told to reduce your carbs or stay away from sugar, you are taught four questions to ask yourself just before eating. If you follow the answers to these questions, you will learn to listen to your own body. You will start to eat what you want, how much you need, and at the right times.
I think of my answers to these questions as small flecks of bread leading me to the right nutritional choice, just as they might lead a bird to my front door. This is a very stress-free way of eating healthy.
This is a very basic form of intuitive eating, and it does take some practice to get used to and some effort to implement. I won’t say I am perfect at it just yet, but as a binge eater, emotional eater, and former eating disorder victim, my road to health and proper eating is filled with potholes.
The last tool Julia Cameron gives is the HALT rule. This simply advises you to never get too hungry, angry, lonely, or tired. Those are four of the most likely sensations to tip off a binge or bouts of emotional eating.
This is just a basic overview of the tools Julia Cameron presents in The Writing Diet. The uplifting nature of her writing has done as much for me as the implementation of the actual tools. I believe it is one of the reasons I am still a former eating disorder victim, rather than a current one. The book is not on that subject, but it has been a powerful tool for me…as is my writing!
Once you get through those tools, you still have a variety of short essays covering everything from buying lingerie to facing setbacks in your weight loss and creative journey. These essays are insightful, at times humorous, and worth reading, but they are not central to the tools you need to stay healthy as a writer.
Listen to Julia Cameron Talk about Physical Transformation and the Tools of The Writing Diet
Unforgettable Julia Cameron Quotes from The Writing Diet: Write Yourself Right-Size
I cannot possibly give you all of the knowledge from The Writing Diet in one hub, so I decided to leave you with a list of my favorite Julia Cameron quotes from this book. These quotes are just one of the reasons this remains one of my favorite books for writers
“Writing makes us conscious. Once we are conscious, it is difficult to act out in unconscious ways.”
“Writing Morning Pages, we begin to see that each day is made up of myriad “choice points” and that we have a great deal of freedom to choose exactly how we will live…Like a tough-love friend, Morning Pages nudge us in the direction of needed change.”
“A month of pages changed the habit of years.”
“We put language between us and a binge. We put language on our turbulent emotions. We name our inner landscape, and that process of accurate self-definition is exciting.”
“As we admit the shadows that fall across our inner terrain, those shadows lose their power to scare and to sabotage us.”
“Faced with self-sabotage, we all want to scream, but we can do something far more productive. We can write.”
“In fact, if we walk often, hard times may become far fewer.”
“The habit of walking tutors us in the art of intuition. It amplifies what mystics call “the still, small voice.””
“There are few more painful places to be than not knowing how to begin.”
These are just some of the quotes from The Writing Diet that keep me cracking the book open when I a need a pick up or reminder. This is clearly one of my favorite books for writers, but it isn’t for everyone. I do recommend The Artist’s Way to everyone, whether you struggle with body issues or not! That is also one of my favorite books for writers.