Writers Digest has a section themed ‘5-Minute Memoir where they invite writers to do a 600-word reflective essay on the writing life. The September/October edition of the magazine carries a ‘5-Minute Memoir’ by Paul Nicolaus where he recalls the first time he heard Anne Lamott‘s advice for writers to produce ‘shitty first drafts.’
It was over 20 years ago and Nicolaus was in a high school English class when the teacher used the phrase. “I can still hear the collective gasp and stifled laughter when our high school English teacher revered to it [Lamott’s essay on shitty first drafts] over two decades ago…”
The advice didn’t register back then, but years later at college, he came across Lamott again, this time when a professor recommended he read her book, Bird by Bird. And there “in the opening pages, I stumbled upon that famous first draft phrase again.”
Today, Nicolaus works as a freelance writer and makes a living from his words. He says those words of advice from Lamott offer a practical starting point; “When… I struggle to find my daily rhythm, I make a point of reminding myself where all good writing begins…”
On the cover…
The cover of the September-October 2021 issue of Writer’s Digest features National Book Award winner, Elizabeth Acevedo, author of Clap When You Land.