“Shitty First Drafts” by A. Lamott

To break down Lamott’s advice to us, it’s basically to understand your writing as a process. Being patient and just doing the writing portion to create a rough draft is a good way to gain access to the best version of your writing. Like math, the writing process is similar to a “trial and error” concept. I did like the last paragraph of the essay because it summed up the tips Anne was giving us into three steps or concepts (she mentions some of this terminology is from her friend): 

The first step or concept is the “Down draft”. This is getting your thoughts down on paper to actually have something to analyze for editing later on (this would be your shitty draft as Anne says). The second step would be creating your “Up draft” which is fixing up this first draft. (this would be your second step, which would consist of going back to your first crappy draft and making your writing more concise. Last is your “Dental draft”. You would be checking every “tooth” for its condition. This would mean, in the writing process, probably cutting down your essay from something like 6 pages to 4 pages. Picking out something or a few things to take your lead on.

This relates to fiction because when writing fiction or any other writing, you can apply this process to make things easier and flow for you when you aren’t sure what direction you would like to go. Especially for me, sometimes when I write, my process comes to a halt for various reasons. I think considering something like Anne’s essay could be beneficial for overcoming this issue. Like Anne mentions in the essay, there are authors that have been able to make a living and are well off from their writing. But we do have to remember, many of them do go through the same writing crises we go through (even as students in a creative writing class). Anne explains in her essay how she had been reviewing food and restaurants for many years but when it came to the writing portion of her job, panic would set in everytime. Even though fiction has little limits, we can still apply this great process for growth as writers. Practice can make improvement.

In relation to fiction, I thought about this essay and how difficult the writing process can be for many people. I recalled our very first writing assignment for this class which was about drafting a one sentence story. (Like “The Dinosaur”) In my opinion, I think exercises like these can be difficult for the simple fact that we don’t want to have a shitty draft. Even if it is the first thing we write, we want our writing to be good. Even if it is one sentence or an entire novel. So, for someone who may not be as familiar with Anne’s idea of the writing process, the idea of having a crappy first draft is not attractive – it may not be something they are comfortable with just yet. However, this process is still important to obtain some clarity on how to better your piece of writing. I think considering advice like Lamott’s can be insightful for new and accomplished writers. It could encourage writers to be familiar with the idea of “it’s just a first draft” opposed to thinking “this is not written well so I’m a bad writer”. 

I think this process could switch someone from being stuck in a fixed mindset into a growth mindset regarding the writing process. Like Lamott says, you do have to trust the process. So, understanding writing can become better with revisions, time and thought is key for mastering this concept. The first few incomplete drafts are what can lead to some of our best work in the end.

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