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Rethinking the Way we Write

Posted on February 11, 2019

Throughout my entire life, writing has always been a challenge for me. I have never been able to effortlessly convey the words I am trying to say out of my mouth in a way in which makes sense to others. It takes a great deal of time and effort to be able to make an organized, thoughtful, and cohesive piece of literature, double that if you’re like me. In both pieces of literature, “The Maker’s Eye” and “Shitty First Drafts”  by Donald Murray and Anne Lamott respectively, the writing process is broken down in a way not typically seen by non-professional writers. As a reader, I was introduced to an alternative writing process than what I have been typically used to. Initially, I have been accustomed to slowly writing a writing assignment paragraph by paragraph, making sure I finished writing the piece by the due date. However, I have never thought about how that could only be almost an outline for a finished piece.

One of the first pieces of information that reshaped my thinking was the idea that after writing the length of a paper there is still much more of the writing process left. This is because there is a second draft and many more to come. Now just the sound of this is off-putting to even myself, but what also is different is the way that we perceive the first draft. This idea was clearly more touched on by Lamott, however, both these writers make an important note to bring up the idea of a first draft. Essentially, they claim that a first draft is merely a weakly structured chart of ideas. By doing this, it allows you to develop your thoughts and allow them the time of day without disregarding them as simply misplaced. By doing this, you can visualize all your arguments or points and cut from those in which are simply not optimal. From there, you can pull out the pieces that you want and put them together in a more organized way. Personally, this is almost like a life-changing ideology. I typically spend my time typing out my thoughts as I go and then am usually more prone to leaving them in that position because I am not open to other structures that fit better. Interestingly enough, it relieves a lot of stress from the writing process that comes from putting all the steps of writing together into one draft.

Consequently, writing is fluid and the process by which we take can differ from person to person. Essentially, it is important to be open to multiple ways of writing to try and consider more advanced and efficient methods that can help to improve your writing. I will definitely try my “Shitty First Draft” and see how it affects my writing.

Comments

  1. Kristina Lucenko

    Nice, Richard. I think most, if not all, of us have experienced the anxiety around the writing process that you describe in your post. There can be so much resistance around writing. Sometimes it’s because we are perfectionists who don’t like the “messy” nature of the drafting process, or because “we are overwhelmed and don’t know where to begin, or because we are tired or bored or a million other reasons! So we have to come up with strategies and tips to get us started. The concept of the “shitty first draft” is one strategy, and looking at your draft with a “maker’s eye” is another. We’ll talk about more strategies as the semester goes on, too!

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