In the excerpt extracted from the story “Bird by Bird,” Anne Lamott shares some insight about writing. The writer uses her experience and that of her colleagues in the industry to motivate individuals who wish to start writing articles and books but lack confidence. According to her, all writers, including the experienced ones like herself, are not perfect and thus encounter significant challenges in writing. But it all takes putting down the first word, and gradually an individual produces a magnificent piece of writing. The author uses the excerpt to advise individuals who dream of writing to begin by making the ‘down draft,’ which contains all sorts of ideas, re-read the draft while fixing it to produce an ‘up draft,’ and then polish it to create a clear final draft.
As I read the article, I feel the ease in which an excellent essay might be written by scribbling any idea and then improving it gradually to produce a brilliant final copy. I can picture myself, and the trouble students had in writing imaginative essays in my previous classes. I would write a good introduction followed by a few paragraphs only to get stuck or get a better story in mind forcing me to cancel the initial piece and start a new essay. At some point during the writing, I would feel like incorporating an earlier story in the final story. It is interesting to learn that professionals also do the same, only that they retain the rough drafts and integrate all the ideas to produce a better copy.
Lamott passes the message across in a humorous but very informative way. She gives various instances when she wrote what she believed was crazy but consoled herself by the fact that no one would read it. She also states that” they take in a few deep breaths, push back their sleeves, roll their neck a few times to get all the cricks out, and dive in…” As much as it sounds funny, it is true that most people view successful writers as writing machines with a great deal of content and with great typing skills. The author, however, dismisses the theory claiming that writers also start writing with no idea of what they want to write. Instead, they identify the idea as they prepare the first draft and builds on it to end up with an excellent product.
The argument is convincing, given that the author provides practical examples starting with herself who is successful in her career. She narrates how she managed to write numerous food reviews that she began with barely an idea of what she was writing. She describes that after interacting with friends or people, she would sit down and type anything she could remember that sounded funny or interesting. The following day she would write a review from the rough draft she had prepared immediately after the event. And the trend continued even after being in the industry for years. She also mentions a fellow writer who every morning begins writing and believes that he wrote for a lack of alternatives. Lamott’s examples portray an industry with challenges, but whose secret to survival is starting to write anything before identifying a lead from the first draft.
The article works for me because as I am one of the people who looks at the successful writers and think of them as perfect. I feel challenged that all it takes to write a good article is writing what she calls a shitty draft and building it up from there. I also find the author’s advice relevant not only in writing but also in real-life applications. The general rule of venturing into any success path is to make the first step, and like the words of writers, positive results will start developing.
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