Anne Lamott’s Shitty First Drafts is an article that tells a story, a story of how past experiences have left her with one main impression: It is perfectly natural to have terrible first drafts, as rather it will only get better. Even the greatest of writers have terrible drafts that only they will see because it is the only way to allow their creative mind to become unclogged and allow them to be the writers that the public knows them to be. Lamott also acknowledges that she herself needs a terrible first draft before being able to write an even better second and third drafts, and she encourages her audience to do the same.
Lamott utilizes a more relaxed tone as to better connect with the reader and therefore is able to easily convey the need for a shity rough draft. Throughout the article, Lamott consistently utilises the tone to better convey the information to her audience. While generally frowned upon for the construction of academic papers, it allows for Lamott to better connect with the reader, as if speaking face to face. It is through this tone that she does not want to look down upon the reader, but rather lift them up to a point in which they can feel more comfortable in their own writing ability. She also peppers in the use of metaphors to illustrate the battle that many writers face whenever they begin to write, comparing external nagging voices to birds that perch on one’s shoulder and whisper negative thoughts into one’s ear, or the dogs that bite and scratch at the cage of the inner mind and are only placated through the act of writing. The idea of her own inner voices acting in such a way help to connect her daily struggle to that of the reader, as they themselves have no doubt felt a similar way when they begin to write, often hearing an outside force critiquing them for the smallest mistake or for not writing as often as they should. Lamott’s style is also helped by the tone, as it seems that she is sitting down with the reader, whom is asking for advice in writing, that could be useful to them in their own careers. One bit that Lamott give is an exercise that a hypnotist gave her, which was to imagine the voices as mice in a jar, and to control the volume at which they were heard, and that allowed her to quiet the voices enough to write better. However, through these aspects, it would seem that the paper itself is a shitty first draft that Lamott used to illustrate her point. This may be because Lamott also calls the first draft the child’s draft, one in which the writers inner child is allowed the freedom to put whatever ideas onto paper since no one else will ever view it besides the author themselves. For most writers, this is a welcome or even novel idea, one that could be used to great extent, especially in the formation of the second and third drafts. For others, it could be seen as a reason to create mediocre papers in the vain attempt to meet specific deadlines in the hopes that the individual that asked for said paper will not notice. Lamott also mentions a practice that many writers often employ: Self editing, where one would go through a paper and edit or revise where they need to, often creating their second draft in the process. For those that can utilize this skill, the intention preaches to the choir as they would view this as common knowledge. For others however, it would be a practice that they could employ in their future, or they could choose to have an impartial third party to look over and edit for them as to save on time or to cover all bases. Despite the usefulness of this information, many writers will often insist on allowing others to edit for them in an attempt to receive unbiased criticism and better ideas to incorporate into consecutive drafts as to strengthen here own writing moving forward. Lamott also uses her own writing process to illustrate what a writer generally feels before they sit down and become serious about their paper or article, as it often includes procrastination and self doubt due to the realization that others will read said paper or article. For most individuals, this deeply resonates with them as they may also go through the same process before putting pen to paper or typing their first sentence. For others however, it would make it seem that many writers are lazy individuals that only manage to create their works while under a strict time limit. Lamott uses a quote from another writer that exemplifies the struggle that many writers face, which is writing itself. She explains that his daily morning mantra is “It’s not like you don’t have a choice…you can either type or kill yourself”. While there are certainly those that can write without this morbid thought, for others the process is similar to pulling teeth, with every idea locked away within the deep recesses of the mind almost impossible to express during the act of writing. Throughout the article, Lamott utilized her own experiences in writing as well as metaphors and other examples to allow her audience to feel comfortable with the idea of terrible first drafts and went onto demonstrate how such a mindset can be extremely helpful to all writer, whether they are beginning or experienced writers.