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How to Write 101

Posted on February 11, 2019

There is no such thing as total perfection. Even the things that seem perfect to us did not start out as perfect. They underwent some process that was gruesome in order to make something that is beautiful.

Anne Lamott’s “Shitty First Draft” and Donald Murray’s “The Maker’s Eye” discuss the process of writing something. It all starts off with a first draft. For some reason, people are afraid of the first draft. They are afraid of it being so bad that they feel like they cannot write anymore because they psych themselves out or they are afraid of someone seeing it and exposing them, tarnishing their image. Lamott sees the bad first draft as something that makes the writer authentic. She states, “Not one of them writes elegant first drafts. All right, one of them does, but we do not like her very much. We do not think that she has a rich inner life or that God likes her or can even stand her”. If one’s first draft is “perfect”, then that means that they don’t care about their writing, they don’t bother with trying to make it better. They could even be cocky about their writing. Murray sees the bad first draft as a process. He discusses the seven elements that go into a piece of writing: focus, audience, form, structure, development, description and tone. After writing his first draft, Murray looks out for all of these elements and evaluates where he needs to add more and what he needs to change in order for those things to be obvious to the reader. Murray also likes to read his pieces aloud to see if the way he has put his sentences together makes sense or just sounds right. Thus, the first draft can be the most embarrassing but the most critical part of writing. Without your first draft you do not have a foundation, and without a foundation, you cannot build upon it.

Based on these readings, some strategies that I can use in order to help me in my writing are just to simply put all my thoughts onto a page, writing a little bit about each thought and seeing if I like what I wrote and then looking for the elements of writing that I have in my work.

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