Writing advice from Anne Lamott

Anne Lamott’s bird by bird: some instructions on writing and life is one of those books you finish and release a deep sigh of wellbeing. It makes it all seem possible. It was given to me as a gift by some in-laws and it has been a great book to dip in and out of over the years. Here’s one example of why.

Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft […] perfectionism will ruin your writing, blocking inventiveness and playfulness and life force (these are words we are allowed to use in California). Perfectionism means that you try desperately not to leave so much mess to clean up. But clutter and mess show us that life is being lived. Clutter is wonderfully fertile ground – you can still discover new treasures under all those piles, clean things up, edit things out, fix things, get a grip. Tidiness suggests that something is as good as it’s going to get. Tidiness makes me think of held breath, of suspended animation, while writing needs to breathe and move.

From Anne Lamott – bird by bird. Page 28 and 29.

One thought on “Writing advice from Anne Lamott

  1. Yes! In fact, on days when I find it hard to write, I set out on a mission to irk my readers with terrible prose. That often oils the gears and gets me writing things that actually don’t turn out half bad.


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