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Summary of "Shitty First Drafts" by Anne Lamott from "Bird by Bird"

Rhylee Suyom has hopped in three different worlds: the academe, the corporate, and the media. He enjoys being with nature and his family.

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

Summary of Shitty First Drafts by Anne Lamott from Bird by Bird

1st paragraph: this talks about the importance of having a ‘shitty’ first draft which may lead to better 2nd and great third drafts. The trick according to the author is to just let it all go; write as one pleases then be on with the editing and proofreading for the succeeding drafts. All writers do and all have messy drafts.

2nd paragraph: All writers must go through the process of thinking what they must do to continue their drafts. The articles states that “the right words and sentences just do not come pouring out like ticker tape most of the time” (Lamott, 94). At times, it is really challenging but may also be like a form of dictation as if assisted by God for the things to write about.

3rd paragraph: the writer stresses that writing is not something gives one much happiness, but a struggle and that the only way to have something done is to just write even when the drafts can be really shitty.

4th paragraph: the six pages are basically called the child’s pages as they are the emotion-filled, experience-driven, and imagination-inspired segments based on childhood. Lamott pointed out that getting the best out of a writer in these first draft means allowing the child inside to take control of whatever is needed to be written. No controls, no inhibitions, and no restrictions. Just write what the child inside of you wants done, termed, said, described, or written.


5th paragraph: Anne here stated that writing will never be as easy as what many think it is. She described her previous job as a restaurant/food review writer from which she would “write a lead, but instead I'd write a couple of dreadful sentences, XX them out, try again, XX everything out, and then feel despair and worry settle on my chest like an x-ray apron” (Lamott, 95). She noted that the inspiration to continue writing and the answers to her questions about a topic often occur after being momentarily busy with trivial matters such as checking her teeth in the mirror or spending time gazing at one of her pictures.

6th paragraph: Talks about how Anne manages to fight the inner critic while she struggles to type her way to completing an article. She mentioned about how her inner critic would make whatever she may have written in her first draft seem insignificant or that her writing may have been too harsh for a piece of chicken. No matter how hard she tries to itemize the things she wants to write about, describes them in the most objective manner, her inner critics would still have much to say. However, she also highlighted the importance of the first shitty draft for in nonetheless serves as her guide to pursue the article and be objective with her writing.

7th paragraph: The challenge of getting caught in the already acquired skill of writing is dependent on Anne’s ability to have another inner critic which checks on the length of the first draft, objectivity to the topic of an article, and a listening inner ear as to what real readers and critics might say about her final product.

8th paragraph: With the shitty and lengthy first draft, Anne uses her colored pen to zoom in on the essentials, cross out the junk, find some other lead(s) somewhere in the draft, and eventually have a great second draft. After proofreading and editing, then the final draft may just be good enough for a submission.

9th & 10th paragraphs: After a month, reviews will come out and she hopes that no one finds the first draft for fear of rejection or negative comments. Lastly, the first draft will always serve as the basis and framework of the final draft since it gives direction to the writer no matter how shitty it may seem. Anne summarizes the drafts with the lines: “the first draft is the down draft -- you just get it down. The second draft is the up draft -- you fix it up…And the third draft is the dental draft, where you check every tooth, to see if it's loose or cramped or decayed, or even, God help us, healthy” (Lamott, 96). These go to state the obvious challenges one must face and accept one he or she decides to write. Although many have become rich and successful writers, all who write go through the same process of fears, problems, challenges, and hopes while in and after the process of writing.


Lamott, Anne. "Shitty First Drafts.” Language Awareness: Readings for College Writers. Ed. by Paul Eschholz, Alfred Rosa, and Virginia Clark. 9th ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2005: 93-96. file:///C:/Users/the_r/Downloads/Information%20and%20PDF%20of%20Shitty%20First%20Drafts%20by%20A.%20Lamott(1)%20(3).pdf


Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

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