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We All Start From Somewhere

Posted on February 12, 2019

The texts “Shitty First Drafts” by Anne Lamott and “The Maker’s Eye” by Donald Murray explore the idea that your first draft will not be good. Most final pieces will become great after many iterations. But both authors have different approaches to explain this idea. Lamott uses a lot of humor, analogies and metaphors. Murray uses a more “recipe” approach to this.

Lamott starts by saying, “[no one] sits down routinely feeling wildly enthusiastic and confident.” She sets up the basis that writing is something that needs to be worked on and will come through hard work. She says her writing process starts with letting all the ideas pour out and romp all over the place. She knows that you will be able to shape it all later. She describes the second draft as you fix up the first draft. After that the third draft should be checked like teeth one by one. While working on the drafts she would keep the voices in her head in check. The voices that would have personalities that would tell her she wasn’t good enough. Eventually these voices would be quiet through various methods. But at the end of the day, she shows that drafts can be chiseled into masterpieces.

Murray uses more of a cut and dry system to write his pieces. He states that “writers of such drafts must be their own enemy.” You must be critical of praise and accept criticism while writing. When reviewing your manuscripts he mentions you should watch for the seven elements: subject, audience, form, structure, development, dimension, and tone. Subject is the focus of the writing. Audience is your well… audience. Form refers to genre. Structure is order. Development is how your build your point. Dimension is a tie up. Tone is style. He states that each word has to be right. If you read it back it needs to sound good. He states, “Good writing is, in a sense, invisible.”

One tip that I found useful was to just put things down. Its better to have things that don’t match up yet on paper than to have nothing at all. Another tip was that words have double, triple or quadruple meanings and also have different tones. They need to be used effectively. The third tip is to quiet the voices in your head, it doesn’t help you if they make you feel awful. The next tip was to use never be satisfied with your work. It can always be better. You have more potential.

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Kelvin Chen

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