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Write Now and Worry Later

Posted on February 11, 2019

          We all have those moments in which we refrain from starting an essay because we’re worried about whether or not the final product will turn out as glamorous as we had expected it to, but in order to produce a product, we must begin somewhere, and that somewhere is the first draft. Through her comedic “Shitty First Draft”, Lamott emphasizes the idea of free writing in order to generate a plethora of ideas and to unleash one’s inner child because “there may be something great [in those six pages] that you would never have gotten to by more rational, grown-up means” as she writes. Lamott also stresses how because it is only the first draft, “no one is going to see it”. With this in mind, I feel more comfortable because I know that I can write without the fear of censorship or privacy invasion, and this will allow ideas to flow more freely given that a beautiful piece of literature doesn’t simply appear out of thin air.


          While Lamott focuses on putting all of one’s thoughts onto paper, Donald Murray explores the more systematic approach to writing. In “The Maker’s Eye”, Murray describes the seven elements: subject, audience, form, structure, development, dimensions, and tone. A writer usually checks to ensure that there is a former element present before proceeding onto the latter ones. Murray also speaks on word choice and word play. He states that “each word has its own tone, its opportunity for connotation and denotation and nuance” and thus, he encourages us to have some fun and experiment with the words that we use. I especially enjoyed the part in which Murray stresses how writing is “full of potential and alternative, something that can grow beyond its own dream”, so essentially, there will never be a final product because there is always something that can be improved on down the road.


          Both of these writers have different approaches to writing, and they both offer valuable advice. Lamott’s idea of simply pouring out all of your thoughts, no matter how good or bad they are, will help me overcome the fear of not writing perfectly on the first try. Her listening to her friends speak while they were together at a restaurant can motivate me to draw inspiration from my own roommate and suitemates. Murray’s tactic of reading out loud can assist me with the editing process because often times, words, phrases, and sentences often sound better in my head. A lot of the time, I become frustrated over repeating the same word too many times, and I tend to obsess over which word sounds better where. I also get tied up in punctuation and grammar in general because these mistakes can distract the reader and myself. Sounding too cliche or generic is another thing that gets to me because I often question whether or not I sound genuine through my writing. Perhaps the most difficult part of writing for me is starting, but once started, I know that my draft can hold a tremendous amount of power to turn into something greater. The biggest takeaway from this for me is to simply write whatever is coming to my mind and to not be afraid of imperfection because after all, it is only the first draft.


  1. Rev

    I think the hardest part for anyone is always starting their essays because they want to set it up perfectly and draw the reader in. I always thought it was impossible to write a first draft, weak introduction. I feel like the entire flow of the essay relies on the beginning and editing the introduction later on would just ruin it somehow. Often times, I find myself putting 2 hours into the first paragraph and about 30 minutes into the rest of the essay. I’d like to think that I’m perfecting my introduction to set up the rest of me essay, but really I’m just making it good cause often times that’s all teachers in my school read.

  2. nlundahl

    The two articles address that many people have with writing, like the things you mention in your last paragraph, in two different ways. I found it helpful that two articles aren’t written the same, with one article I related to the personal anecdotes of struggling to write and with the other I appreciated being given a systematic approach to editing.

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Jessica Hui

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