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The Reason You Want a Bad First Draft

Posted on February 11, 2019

The readings “Shitty First Drafts” by Anne Lamott and “The Maker’s Eye” by Donald Murray both come to the consensus that a writer’s first draft is nothing but rough. Both reading express that a writer’s first draft is their opportunity to get all of their thoughts and ideas onto paper whether they are good or bad. Lamott and Murray both give tips and strategies throughout their articles to help beginner writers write and perfect their papers.


In the reading “Shitty First Drafts,” Lamott uses a  humorous tone throughout the piece to covey to young writers that almost everyone hates writing first drafts. She uses many hyperboles such as “…you can either type or kill yourself” and “Im ruined. I’m through. Im toast. Maybe, I’d think, I can get my old job back as a clerk-typist” to emphasize how difficult it is to begin writing a paper. Despite this humorous tone, Lamott offers various strategies to help young writers get started on their papers. For example, she encourages writers to write a first draft that is twice as long as it needs to be so you can get all of your ideas down on paper. Next she suggests to read through the draft the next day to pick out all of the good and bad parts in order to compose a second draft. Lastly, she suggests to go over the paper one more time before turning it in, making sure that everything is perfect. Not only did Lamott provide writing strategies, but she also gave tips from her hypnotist on how to turn off the negative feedback you give yourself while you write. She suggests that you imagine the negative feedback as a mouse, pick it up, drop it into a mason jar, and lower the volume on the jar to ignore all of those comments so you can write. I believe these strategies are very beneficial to writers because many times I feel like my first draft needs to be perfect and end up spending hours on a one paragraph but allowing my first draft to be “shitty” will definitely relieve stress and allow me to get all of my ideas on paper.


The reading “The Maker’s Eye” by Donald Murray also provides strategies to help young writers get started on their papers. Similar to Lamott, Murray suggests that writers should get all of their ideas on paper in the first draft and then review it to pick out the best ones. He also lists the seven elements of effective writing to look for when you review your first draft which are subject, audience, form, structure, development, dimensions, and tone. Murray conveys to readers that after you have these seven elements in your writing, you can start seriously editing the piece. Lastly, Murray advises you to read the paper out loud to make sure there is coherence and unity not only in each paragraph but in the entire essay as a whole. I believe Murray offers incredibly useful strategies in his seven elements of writing which I will use while writing and revising my papers in order to make sure my paper achieves its meaning as a whole.


Overall, Lamott and Murray both include useful tips and strategies throughout their articles to help young writers not only get started, but perfect their papers. By writing “shitty” first drafts and using Murray’s seven elements, I will be able to improve my writing in my essays throughout the semester.


  1. Jessica Hui


    I see that you have a good understanding of both articles, and I like how detailed you were in your descriptions. Maybe you could also share what gives you trouble when you’re writing or which part of writing is the most time consuming for you. I know that for me, I try to sound really fancy with my words, especially when it comes to analysis essays or anything that involves me really having to dig deep. I tend to think that bigger and longer words are better because they make me sound more sophisticated. I also have trouble with transitions, so I spend a lot of time focusing on making my words flow smoothly. I think the greatest piece of advice that Lamott gives is to just get all of your thoughts down onto paper because you’re going to be the only one who will ever see it so you shouldn’t worry about others judging what you write.

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