“The difference between a writer who toughs it out and one who doesn’t is that you push through the parts where you know that you’ve just written seven pages when all you’re looking for is one paragraph.”
Question: When did yournfirst learn to write seriously?rnrn
Anne Lamott: Myrnfather was a writer, so I grew up writing and reading and I was reallyrnencouraged by him. I had some sortrnof gift and when it came time to try to find a publisher I had a little rnbit ofrnan “in” because I had his agent I could turn to, to at least read my rninitialrnofferings when I was about 20. Butrnthe only problem was that they were just awful, they were just terrible rnstoriesrnand my agent, who ended up being my agent, was very, very sweet about rnit, butrnit took about four years until I actually had something worth trying to rnsell.rnrn
Question: What is yourrnworking method like?rnrn
Anne Lamott: Forrnthe last 35 years, since I was full-time, since about the age of 20—evenrnthough 15 of those years I was also doing other jobs to support my rnwriting,rnlike cleaning house and teaching tennis, and what not—my father really rntaughtrnme that you really develop the habit of writing and you sit down at the rnsame timernevery day, you don’t wait for inspiration. You rnsit down, it helps your subconscious understand that it’srntime to start writing and to relax down into that well of dream materialrn andrnmemory and imagination. So, I sitrndown at the exact same time every day. rnAnd I let myself write really awful first drafts of things. I take very short assignments; I willrncapture for myself in a few words what I’m going to be trying to do thatrnmorning, or in that hour. Maybe I’mrngoing to write a description of the lake out in Inverness in West Marin,rn wherernI live. And so I try to keeprnthings really small and manageable. rnI have a one-inch picture frame on my desk so I can remember thatrn that’srnall I’m going to be able to see in the course of an hour or two, and rnthen Irnjust let myself start and it goes really badly most mornings; as it doesrn forrnmost writers.rnrn
And the difference between a writer who toughs it rnout andrnone who doesn’t is that you push through the parts where you know that rnyou’vernjust written seven pages when all you’re looking for is one paragraph.
Recorded April 6, 2010
rnInterviewed by Austin Allenrn