Megan Shepherd
April 10, 2015 11:10 am

In case you forgot to wish her all the joy in the world, today is Anne Lamott’s birthday! It’s also Encourage a Young Writer Day. So the literary maven and overall queen of wisdom is actually giving us a gift on her special day. She penned a moving Facebook post power-packed with advice for writers.

But first, let me back up. I’ve loved Anne Lamott for a while now, as I’m sure many folks have (writers and otherwise). She’s a compelling novelist, memoirist, and essayist, an impassioned political activist, a keenly observational teacher, and the purveyor of absolute truisms, such as:

Through flipped pages skimmed with pen in mouth, I’ve been devouring Anne’s teachings for years. Her insights on writing, life, friendship and self-care have ushered me through premature and wholly unnecessary life crises, failed drafts, ego checks, creative droughts and spiritual deserts, and her musings on the poison of perfectionism and the perilous worries of humanity (everything from a fear of death to a bad dinner party) have forced me to re-examine the most important question of all–the why? Why does this matter, why am I feeling this way, why are we all making it so much harder than it needs to be?

Her truth, grace and candor have solidified her as a timeless voice in the modern literary landscape, and in honor of her 61st birthday today, she’s shared with us on Facebook everything she knows at this point in time. You should absolutely read the full post, but here are some nuggets of wisdom she included that every young writer should read.

“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.”

“Writing: sh-tty first drafts. Butt in chair. Just do it. You own everything that happened to you. You are going to feel like hell if you never write the stuff that is tugging on the sleeves in your heart—your stories, visions, memories, songs: your truth, your version of things, in your voice. That is really all you have to offer us, and it’s why you were born.”

“Publication and temporary creative successes are something you have to recover from. They kill as many people as not. They will hurt, damage and change you in ways you cannot imagine. . .Yet, it is also a miracle to get your work published . . . Just try to bust yourself gently of the fantasy that publication will heal you, will fill the Swiss cheesey holes. It won’t, it can’t. But writing can. So can singing.”

She finishes the post with a quote from another writer she admires.

“I wish I had shoe-horned in what E.L. Doctorow said about writing: ‘It’s like driving at night with the headlights on. You can only see a little aways ahead of you, but you can make the whole journey that way.'”

Happy birthday, Anne! We love you, and can’t wait to celebrate another year of you.

Images via here, here,  here.

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