A Small Talk On (Shitty) First Draft w/ Anne Lamott

Eric Gao

Professor T.

LHSP 125

September 10th 2013


Lamott: “Good afternoon Mr.Gao.”

Me: “Good afternoon Anne.”

Lamott: “So how’s the first draft of your college essay going?”

Me: “I mean, it feels like the thinking itself took more time than the actual writing, I just want to make everything perfect, or close to perfect in the very beginning so that I would have less work to do when it comes to revising it.”

Lamott: “Understandable, but nothing is perfect, do you know what the largest room on Earth is called?”

Me: “Why such random question? The master bedroom I suppose.”

Lamott: “Room for improvement- don’t be afraid to make mistakes early on. Have confidence in your writing and feel comfortable with letting loose and writing a ton of ridiculous and senseless things, just so you can eventually write that ‘perfect’ piece.”

Me: “That’s deep, and how would I go about that?”

Lamott: “I will get to it, but first, tell me about your thought process when you were writing the first draft.”

Me: “Let’s see… I usually plan it out with an outline, starting with the body paragraphs first then cap them with introduction and conclusion. I feel that introduction and conclusion consume the most time and effort, because they need to summarize what I would, or have, talked about in my paper. I spend a lot of time just thinking about what to write and tend to choose my words very carefully.”

Lamott: “Interesting, it is actually the opposite to what I usually do.

Me: “Really? How so?”

Lamott: “I write down everything that pops up in my head, it’s like thinking as a two-year-old.”

Me: “Tell me if I’m wrong, but I think a two-year-old wouldn’t really have any thinking going on.”

Lamott: “Exactly, children have no filter; being vulnerable like a child will allow you to pour out everything that you are meaning to express. Children usually say whatever is on their mind and what they are exactly feeling inside. Just let out everything and choose the parts you want to keep, because if you weren’t rambling on and pouring everything out, you may never find what you are truly looking for.”

Me: “Well said, I think I emphasize too much on choosing the right sentence while leaving out what my heart tells me to do, but it’s just that having a shitty first draft makes me feel like I’m not giving my hardest into my work.”

Lamott: “Ninety-nine percent of my first draft was shitty, Mr. Gao, that’s why they were called drafts. The truth is, if you are not willing to write down the shitty stuffs, you are never going to get rid of them. Keep your mind open because you are always going to perfect it at the end.”

Me: “Enlightening! Thank you so much for the advice, I better get going. Thanks again Anne, I will pay for the coffee.”

Lamott: “And the bagel and cookies please.”

Me: “Sure thing.”



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