I’m reading Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. I’m 6 chapters in, and I think they’ve done more to help me accept the “shitty first draft” and the “just write every day” mantras better than the tens of other books and hundreds of other articles that tried to beat me over the head with them. Her opening paragraph in the “Perfectionism” chapter may have actually changed my entire life.
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. I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won’t have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren’t even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they’re doing it.
– Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
Look, I don’t know where “I just want to write” ends and “I feel like I can’t prove my worth in any way other than writing” begins. I can’t imagine how much therapy and self-exploration I’m gonna have to go through to get to the bottom of that can of worms. All I know is that when I mix metaphors for shits and giggles 1 I feel like maybe I’m not a complete waste of space.
Regardless of what the reason is, writing helps me, I like it, and so any contribution that makes it easier to do is great. And if you relate to this even a little bit, I highly recommend you dish out $10-20 for this book.
Although, let’s be real, it’s funny to me and at most one other person.↩