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Overcoming Obstacles

Posted on February 12, 2019

Several people state that they hate writing, as they find it incredibly difficult to start their work, or they get stuck along the way, or they keep getting distracted, and so on.  Luckily for them, Anne Lamott and Donald Murray have plenty of advice to guide them along the writing process.

In Lamott’s work, “Shitty First Drafts,” she talks about how she struggles to begin to writing a draft.  She says that most writers “…often feel like we are pulling teeth…” and that “the right words and sentences just do not come pouring out…”  Lamott says that the only way to solve this is to “…write really, really shitty first drafts.” In the first draft, it doesn’t matter what you write, even if it’s nonsense, as you will eventually get where you need to be.  Similarly, Donald Murray says in his work, “The Maker’s Eye,” that, “when professional writers complete their first draft, they usually feel they are at the start of the writing process.” The first draft is an “…opportunity to discover what they have to say and how they can best say it.”  Thus, both writers agree that the first draft should be bad, as it is only the starting point in the writing process.

From that point, Lamott and Murray begin to talk about different tips and strategies that they use for their writing.  In Lamott’s piece, she goes further into depth about the concept of a “shitty first draft.” She says that to begin her draft takes a bit of time, as she, like many others, procrastinates.  Lamott states the best way to overcome this is to just sit down and write anything, even if it’s terrible, it will give you something to work with. She then moves on to describe another problem many people likely face, the voices inside their head.  Lamott describes these voices as very distracting and harmful to her writing, going as far as saying that they are “…at least half the battle I fight daily.” According to a hypnotist that she visited, the best way to combat these voices is to isolate each one, imagine them as a mouse, them into a jar, and mute them.

Murray, though different from Lamott’s, also gives helpful tips and strategies.  To start off, he says that one must detach themselves from their work to begin writing.  He then mentions that writing has seven key elements: subject, audience, form, structure, development, dimension, and tone.  By including these elements in your writing, it will be much stronger. Murray also says that it is best to edit your writing in short bursts, either fifteen or twenty minutes.  By doing so you can catch more errors and make more improvements rather than letting them pass. Murray also says that your writing should show the reader the subject, each word choice should be deliberate, and each line must connect to the others.

While Murray and Lamott approach the idea in different ways, both show that the writing process is longer than it seems.  Both writers admit that writing can be hard, and confess that they often get stuck as well. But they do not stop because of these obstacles, instead, they find ways to overcome them and list their methods so that we may pass them as well.

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