Lamott’s shitty first drafts (PDF) are a good approach to writing, but they don’t work quite as well when, instead of writing one bad thing quickly and then improving upon it, you write one bad thing after another, four or five or six in a row, put ‘em in a little pile, and set them on fire. I know this because it’s how I’ve spent the last several hours.
I mean overall, yes, my little bonfire — this writing labor — has been good for my craft. Writing is writing, especially intentional writing, and it’s better to do it than think about doing it. But it was good in the way that an afternoon at the gym is good for my figure; I might be stronger than I was before, but the experience did not, in and of itself, get me laid. (Getting laid being the only motivation I am aware of to exercise voluntarily.)
A more productive and organized man than I might pick a theme early in the week, muse upon it reflectively through so many walks and meals and showers, capture notes here and there, even do a bit of research, and then treat his writing time as an opportunity to synthesize and improve upon his musings and notes. And sometimes I am that man. But not usually. Usually, I am the man that I am, a man who was once a boy who would start assignments with a borrowed pencil on the bus to school, and finish them in the hall before the day’s first bell. (And, perhaps most destructively, still get an ‘A’.)