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Putting my Writer’s Block in a Jar

Posted on February 10, 2019

Since the start of school, my English teachers would lay out the writing process- first draft, edit, second draft, peer edit, final draft. Along the way, in the middle of middle school, I got lazy. I would write my essay the night before and just submit it in hoping that the teacher wouldn’t realize how rushed my work was. Of course, my grade in English dropped and my writing only deteriorated because I never worked beyond my first draft. It was at high school that I learned to work smarter and earlier to realize that writing only took time and to truly develop it, I needed to work in advance. The two articles, “Shitty First Drafts” by Lamott and “The Maker’s Eye” by Donald Murray really highlights this point and goes in depth on not only why we need more than one draft but what we need to revise and edit from our drafts.

Lamott really just states what everyone is thinking when they begin writing. He pinpoints the torture, the writer’s block and the lack of confidence that I have when I begin writing almost anything. The negative voices that he hears in his head is almost the same as the ones I heard. Almost every time I would write a sentence, I hear myself thinking, “That doesn’t even make sense.” His advice that he gives at the end is something that I would definitely use in my writing. He would drop all the negativity in a jar and continue writing. Because of that voice that tells me that I’m not good enough, I can’t concentrate on writing even my first draft so I will take his advice and drop that lack of confidence in the jar like he does.

Murray concentrates more on the writing process in itself and what we need to edit from our first drafts to truly move on to our second draft. He tells us, first, to check on the subject. Did we made it clear what our essay is about? This is something that I definitely need to use in my writing because I have been told that I use too much “fluff”. I use so many empty words that the reader doesn’t even understand the main point of my essay anymore. I have to ask myself after every paragraph or so, “Was this necessary?” or “Did this support my main focus?”. Another advice Murray gives is to check after the structure of the essay. Sometimes my writing is a little choppy where my transitions are nowhere to be seen but I ignore it hoping that a transitional phrase will come to me soon.  Murray states that he stops writing until he finds that something to weave his writing together. I realized that it is something that I need to do. I can’t just ignore it and wait for something that never comes at the end. I need to take time to think of a flow to connect my sentences and strengthen my structure as a whole.


  1. Gianna

    Your description of the thoughts that go on in your head while writing could not be more relatable. I said something similar in my post as well, especially the first sentence can be hard for me to get past. I love the analogy of dropping that “lack of confidence in the jar”: I feel that this concept can be applied to other aspects of life other than writing. I think that with confidence in writing comes the ability to try new techniques, and even connective phrases like you mentioned. I often have trouble connecting one idea to the next, I usually just try to get the thoughts down and try to fix the flow afterwards. I think that your idea of checking the main theme after every paragraph is great advice and definitely something I will be utilizing as we write our literary narratives.

  2. lutting

    I liked how you started your blog post with a personal anecdote. It is very relatable to many students (including myself) because as my years of school went on, I realized I too would not go beyond the first draft. I could also relate to your suffering of writers block because I would also have the feeling that everything I wrote did not make any sense. Lastly, I also struggle with my writing being able to flow together so I will definitely use Murray’s advice and wait to keep writing until I can make a smooth transition.

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