Feb 19, 2008

Getting ahead in writing, by Agatha Christie & Anne Lamott

It’s daunting, starting that article, poem, or book. I know, because I have an article for Reader’s Digest due in a week, and I’m more interested in blogging or writing for Suite or checking out various forums or Googling my name than actually getting down to work.

Are you the same way? Just think how much work we could get done if we actually worked constantly! Since that seems impossible, especially at the beginning of new pieces, here’s some writing advice from Agatha Christie and Anne Lamott to get things moving.

Writing quotations: “The secret of getting ahead is getting started,” said Agatha Christie. That’s good, but let’s hear what Anne Lamott has to say…

“Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere. Start by getting something – anything – down on paper,” says Lamott in Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. “What I’ve learned to do when I sit down to work on a shitty first draft is to quiet the voices in my head.” She suggests various ways to quiet those voices, including putting them one by one in a mason jar and closing the lid.

Then, you write.

Writing tip: Agatha Christie says you need only get started in order to get ahead. Why? Because getting started will build momentum, and before you know it the article or poem is half written, or the book outline is finished. Just get started, even if you only have 15 minutes.

Okay, I’ll go work on my article. You write your stuff. And we’ll both get ahead...

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