I saw Anne Lamott speak in Seattle this year

And then I needed to write up a brief response afterward for one of my MFA classes.   So here it is.  🙂

by Debi

“Elliot Bay Book Company Presents Anne Lamott at Seattle First Baptist Church”

On Wednesday, November 12th, 2014, I went to see Anne Lamott.  She was promoting her latest book, Small Victories: Spotting Improbably Moments of Grace, at Seattle First Baptist Church in conjunction with The Elliot Bay Book Company.  Seeing Anne Lamott in person was a Bucket List type of event for me.  Lamott’s personal essays on life, faith, and writing have been inspirational and encouraging to me for many years.  She mainly spoke about her writing life, and then read several short passages from Small Victories.  The presentation ended with questions and answers with the audience, and then Lamott signed copies of her newest book afterward.

One of the most important things I learned about writing this past week was something actually said at Lamott’s presentation.  She was talking about how she doesn’t believe in the importance of inspiration when it comes to writing.  Instead, she believes in habit.  Building the habit of writing.  Every day.  At the same time.  Inspired or not.  Lamott’s father was a writer and she grew up seeing him get up every day, sitting himself down at his typewriter, and writing for several hours first thing in the morning.  Every morning.  The example of her father’s disciplined writing life seems to have been a lesson well-learned in her own life.

I tend to be one of those folks who waits to get inspired before I sit down to write.  Consequently I don’t write nearly as often as I’d like to. Even my papers for Grad School sometimes get pushed back to the edge of deadlines while I wait to be inspired. But I realized this week that if I just sit down and start the process of getting words out, the content starts taking shape in the midst of the drivel that usually comes out first.

In her popular book, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, Lamott talks about the importance of doing shitty first drafts. Just dump it all out and turn off the internal editor. That’s sometimes difficult for me. My internal editor is a big voiced woman with a pointy finger wagging in my face. I think her name is Ursula. Like the sea witch in the Little Mermaid.

I need to learn to say, “Hush now, Ursula. This is just the first draft. I’ll edit later and then you can come back and wag your finger and shout all you want. But for now, shhhhhhh. I’m writing.”

So. Back to habit. I need to rebuild the daily habit of writing and stop waiting for inspiration or the universe to reach out and embrace me.  I’d really like to say thank you to Anne Lamott for being such an inspiration to me this week. Hey! Wait a minute. Inspiration did strike this week through Lamott’s words.  But she told me not to wait for inspiration.

Hm.

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