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Crappy First Drafts: Anne Lamott's Guide to Successful Writing

Updated on November 17, 2016

All Good Writing Starts Somewhere

After reading Anne Lamott’s excerpt from her book Bird by Bird I learned that we must let our ideas flow when writing a first draft. Lamott includes her own experiences in her crappy first drafts. She states that it is better to include any thought that comes to you and put it down in writing. Lamott compares writing first drafts to being childlike; this means that first drafts are messy. We are to let our inner child come out when we write out first drafts. Lamott encourages us to write as if no one is going to read the piece to create a secure foundation. This is an important part of writing when you can write nonsense that later turns into something valuable in the second draft. The second draft is where you neaten up the mess of ideas from the first round. The second draft is the editing phase where you polish your ideas to have them make sense to your readers.

Writing Takes Time

The writing process begins with the physical act Lamott explains, and even the movement of her fingertips helps her come up with more ideas. Although ideas found in a first draft are not always the best, they are a start to something greater. Lamott’s insight on the writing process has helped me further understand that writing occurs in stages. Writing does not give instant gratification; you must put in the work if you want to achieve something great. Lamott’s excerpt on crappy first drafts helped me with writing a rhetorical analysis when she described her experiences with writing restaurant reviews. She explained in the excerpt that when writing the reviews, she would bring a few friends and write down how they all felt as well.

How I Will Apply Lamott’s Wisdom to My Own Writing

This has helped me understand how to write a rhetorical analysis paper because in this next assignment we are to learn to evaluate modes of persuasion. Writing is most often used to persuade its readers. Reading Lamott’s excerpt has not only helped remind me of the revision process but the rhetorical aspect of writing. Lamott explains her own experience with what aspect she would like to critique when writing her restaurant reviews. She used her knowledge on the topic to persuade her in a specific way. I will apply this knowledge to my own writing in a rhetorical analysis assignment.


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