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Autism and “Shitty First Drafts”

I’ve read Anne Lamott’s ever-handed-out chapter from Bird by Bird called “Shitty First Drafts” many times and also read the entire book.  They throw it at you constantly when you’re learning writing.  Before I realized I was Autistic, I nodded and smiled and figured I was supposed to accept this as sage advice.

But…the problem is, I didn’t need it.

Let me stop you before you think: oh, she thinks her writing is somehow perfect the first time.

I don’t think that.  But I’ve noticed I come to accept “good enough for this project” a lot more than most people.  That said, before I was Autistic, I worked on a novel for over a decade.  Same one.  Taking it apart, redoing it constantly.  I realized I was Autistic this year, and finished it up fully and I am reasonably satisfied I can now revise it.  Not take it apart a million times for another decade, but revise it.  It’s in the drawer now because I’ll have to polish the first 50 pages of it for my “thesis” (final project) in the spring of 2017, but to polish it, I need to have it DONE now, and I do.  I can move onto something else while that rests.  I’m being somewhat pragmatic; I know I have risk of melt-down or being overwhelmed at some point, but I accept that it must be done.  I have gotten used to planning around my husband and son, who both have unusual times where they need help (like any Autistic family) and I know now that I’ll have my own times when I’m not productive, so while the productivity strikes, I gotta work.

Anyway, If you’re not familiar with the “Shitty First Drafts” piece, it goes over how Anne Lamott truly struggles to write.  Yes, a published author struggles.  Yes, it is hard.  We are meant to feel better.

I don’t, though.

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