#STORY2012 :: Anne Lamott – Find a Pen


Anne Lamott writes and speaks about subjects that begin with capital letters: Alcoholism, Motherhood, Jesus.  But armed with self-effacing humor – she is laugh-out-loud funny – and ruthless honesty, Lamott converts her subjects into enchantment.  Actually, she writes about what most of us don’t like to think about.  She wrote her first novel for her father, the writer Kenneth Lamott, when he was diagnosed with brain cancer.  She has said that the book was “a present to someone I loved who was going to die.”  In all her novels, she writes about loss – loss of loved ones and loss of personal control.  She doesn’t try to sugar-coat the sadness, frustration and disappointment, but tells her stories with honesty, compassion and a pureness of voice.  As she says, “I have a lot of hope and a lot of faith and I struggle to communicate that.”  Anne Lamott does communicate her faith; in her books and in person, she lifts, comforts, and inspires, all the while keeping us laughing.

 If you want to find a voice, find a pen.

  • Everything I know about Jesus applies to writing.
  • The enemy is within. It’s the voices that you’ve internalized you’re entire life. People didn’t get what you did, and needed you to be different than you were.
  • The voices of the world are so materialistic and seductive and distracting.
  • But the voices inside your head will be probably partly self-loathing and self-doubt, and wounded cry of the ego.
  • It’s hard to get work done in the middle of those things.
  • Everyday I say a prayer “God help me to get out of the way so I can write what I should write.”
  • I know who I am spiritually, but most of the time my challenge is mental, and its about getting out of my own way.
  • The way that I have been able to grind down those voices of low self-esteem is I take the action.
  • For most of us there’s not a code that we break that sets us free. We take action in love. We want freedom, we practice discipline.
  • The truth of who you are longs for freedom and it’s only gonna happen through discipline.
  • I don’t sit around and wait for inspiration. It’s part of the craziness. I take action.
  • This is a very scare place to live, and if you think of something, get a pen and write it down. You won’t remember if you don’t.
  • The person who has been saved by the written word, almost like we were saved by God.
  • For me to write or read what you’ve written is communication, like being a part of something bigger.
  • I want to be someone who has some medicine to offer.
  • I give myself really short assignments.
  • To be an artist is to find your way as you go. 
  • Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor. 
  • We’re all in the same boat.
  • No one knows what they’re doing most of the time. We figure it out as we go, and we figure it out together.
  • We mess up and pray for forgiveness, and we’re washed clean.
  • If you can put aside 4 hours, twice per week that will be 3.5 hours.
  • Sit down at the same time everyday and take 90 minutes to write.
  • If you think you don’t have time, then you need to figure out what your life is all about. Because if you don’t think you have time now, you won’t have time later.
  • You don’t want to be a person of regret, you want to be a person of wild spirit. That means messes and mistakes.
  • Just do it, if you want to be an artist, or a writer.
  • You will write awful awful awful first drafts.
  • The way to write a really great draft is to write a really terrible first draft.
  • The grace of age is this radical self-care and self-acceptance. I know I’m not going to look like Kim Kardashian. Because of my church, and my friends, and grace, I celebrate that I am made in the image of God.
  • God’s not your executive assistant. You have to write down your idea. If you can’t do that then you’re not going to be a great writer.
  • If you want to find a voice, find a pen. 

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