Anne Lamott could not express my feelings towards rough drafts more perfectly in this excerpt from her book Bird by Bird. It put my shame at ease and I did not feel so much discomfort after reading how a professional writer struggles just as much as I do. Just Lmaott’s first sentence, “…the idea of shitty first drafts. All good writers write them. This is how they end up with good second drafts and terrific third drafts,” (189) depicts that everyone struggles, not just students. Lamott emphasizes in order to get a final product, one has to struggle with the first draft, the second draft, and even the third draft. She reiterates that there is nothing wrong with writing as much down as he/she wants because later, that is what makes up the final product-in a more condensed, put together form. Most of the time I feel like I’m the only one who sits there with a prompt in front of me, maybe even something I got to choose to write about, and I just stare. Keep on staring. And stare some more, at a blank paper that is definitely not going to write itself.
What I have come to find out is I always try to make my first draft the best draft there is. There will be little to no revision or editing needed. I always felt like that was the way I had to do it. Growing up, teachers never told me I could “let this childlike part of [me] channel whatever voices and visions come through and onto the page” (190). I always had to turn in my rough drafts no matter how many of them I wrote. Because of that, I always wanted to sound like I knew what I was writing about. I’d use big words, I’d make my sentences sound so intelligent that I would not even know what it said sometimes. Reading through Shitty First Drafts honestly changes how I will write first drafts from now on. I won’t sit there for an hour questioning if what I want to write down will sound good enough or whether I need to look up a word in a thesaurus so it looks better in the sentence. I have to remind myself that this rough draft could be as shitty as I want it to be as long as I can use bits and pieces to make my second rough draft, or even third and turn it into a final piece.
From that third draft, comes the final piece. The one we all stress about. The one we all question whether its good enough or not. The one we wonder what our teacher is going to think of it…etc. Lamott however, expresses that if “[we] just get it all down on paper…there may be something great in those six crazy pages that [we] would never have gotten to by more rational, grown-up means” (190). In those six crazy pages, unfolds a terrific final piece of work, one that I know I’m grateful I survived through. Heck, this is a shitty first draft of its own even though I revised it over and over again because I know the whole class has to read it…but we are all in the same boat. Reading what Lamott has to share about professionals who struggle with writing should make us all feel better and to know that it is okay to express yourself in writing any way you want during the drafts in order to get the best final product.