Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

Bird by Bird Some Instructions on Writing and Life Thirty years ago my older brother who was ten years old at the time was trying to get a report on birds written that he d had three months to write It was due the next day We were out at our family

Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he d had three months to write It was due the next day We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the t Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he d had three months to write It was due the next day We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother s shoulder, and said Bird by bird, buddy Just take it bird by bird With this basic instruction always in mind, Anne Lamott returns to offer us a new gift a step by step guide on how to write and on how to manage the writer s life From Getting Started, with Short Assignments, through Shitty First Drafts, Character, Plot, Dialogue all the way from False Starts to How Do You Know When You re Done Lamott encourages, instructs, and inspires She discusses Writers Block, Writing Groups, and Publication Bracingly honest, she is also one of the funniest people alive.If you have ever wondered what it takes to be a writer, what it means to be a writer, what the contents of your school lunches said about what your parents were really like, this book is for you From faith, love, and grace to pain, jealousy, and fear, Lamott insists that you keep your eyes open, and then shows you how to survive And always, from the life of the artist she turns to the art of life.

  • ✓ Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life ☆ Anne Lamott
    355 Anne Lamott
Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

  1. Anne Lamott is an author of several novels and works of non fiction Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, her non fiction works are largely autobiographical, with strong doses of self deprecating humor and covering such subjects as alcoholism, single motherhood, and Christianity She appeals to her fans because of her sense of humor, her deeply felt insights, and her outspoken views on topics such as her left of center politics and her unconventional Christian faith She is a graduate of Drew College Preparatory School in San Francisco, California Her father, Kenneth Lamott, was also a writer and was the basis of her first novel Hard Laughter.Lamott s life is documented in Freida Lee Mock s 1999 documentary Bird by Bird A Film Portrait of Writer Anne Lamott.

513 Reply to “Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life”

  1. Where I got the book purchased from.Perhaps I m reading this, one of the writing community s most referred to books, too late in life Perhaps as a 20 year old English major which I never was I would have loved this book That could explain its popularity it seems like the kind of writing advice book that will be invariably set as a mandatory read in an MFA program And that, in turn, could explain why a certain type of writer will, if asked to give writing advice, sound exactly like Anne Lamott.Ma [...]

  2. There is nothing to writing All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed Ernest HemingwayOne writer I know tells me that he sits down every morning and says to himself nicely, It s not like you don t have a choice, because you do you can either type or kill yourself Ann LamottI have not always felt much like writing My writer s block, if that is what it was, and not merely the tardy development of some creative muscles, occupied a large portion of my youth Writing papers for school was not m [...]

  3. I m getting to the point where I ve read a handful of books on the writing life by authors and I found this one to be particularly resonant at this point in my writing career I actually found myself underlining things that Anne Lamott wrote and thinking, I need to reread this so that I can absorb its message better Perhaps the one thing that I d like to pass along from her book that I wholeheartedly believe is her assertion that novels should have hope in them I ve spent several years thinking a [...]

  4. Ugh I used to write and then I took some time away from it, and someone suggested this book to me to inspire me It did exactly the opposite Lamott makes writing sound like passing a kidney stone, and it doesn t have to be that way.

  5. I love that she doesn t shy away from the dark stuff, all the shitty feelings, angry rants, and suicidal episodes I also love that she s funny Not just amusing, but actually funny I love that she curses I love that she can be and seems to enjoy being spiteful and sarcastic I love her and wish I could call her up when I m feeling miserable Luckily, I have this book.

  6. Not new agey, hippie esque or nearly as self help guide like as I feared it would be when I started listening to the audiobook version as read by its author Anne Lamott s monotone voice set off the OH NO SHE S TRYING TO HYPNOTIZE ME alarms in my head, while her occasional allusions to faith had me ready with my own form of holy water urine to dash upon any self righteous pulpits However, Lamott is grounded than that, and her dry delivery provides the perfect vehicle for her Tina Fey styled, koo [...]

  7. I recommend this book to everyone, writer or not It is Anne s most classic, I think You will laugh and maybe even cry.I pull it off the shelf now and then and read whatever page I land on and always find my way back to my own writing.

  8. After so many books about how fun and easy writing can be, it s great to have a book that shows how painful and difficult it really is Lamott puts a premium on discipline, the discipline of writing every day at a set time and trying hard to get the first draft out, no matter how bad it may be This message may not be news to most, but along with the added info that neurosis and writing go hand in hand, Lamott is not here to inform, she s here to encourage She s a real teacher, someone who isn t j [...]

  9. This was fantastic, and I wrote a million notes For example I love the description of throwing rats in a jar and watching them scratch This was a tool for the mind to silence distractors in your life that block you from writing Also having an acre of land with a fence, and if people come in and mess it up you simply kick them off I like the idea of creating a book from characters, and letting the plot follow what the characters desire I liked the idea of moving forward bird by bird, reading the [...]

  10. Swell Songs Sung So WellThis little book sings so sweetly You ve probably read in other books some version of the optimism, pointers and warnings that are covered here Yet, you ve probably not read one as practical or as well written as this Anne Lamott s book is a virtuosic Best of LP, for writers and other creative artists, from which one may choose among many tracks of anecdotes, experience and hope It s something you can pull out from time to time to put you on the right track, get you unstu [...]

  11. A surprisingly hysterical book about writing and, as the title implies, life The hype surrounding Lamott s book is definitely well earned and I can t wait to read of her work Much of her advice on writing is practical and no nonsense as she addresses the difficulties of writing and getting published If I had one complaint it would be that I wasn t as inspired to write by the end of the book as I was to be Anne s see I m already calling her by her first name as if I know her friend I definitely [...]

  12. I read this to try to understand and learn the craft of writing With great apprehension, I m trying to figure out if this is something I want to do I ve been a musician and songwriter for many years, so it s not like it s a stretch I think I m mostly intimidated by the sheer volume of work by so many great writers before me, writers that have given their entire lives to the craft and some sacrificing even What do I have to add Who am I to swagger into the Sistine Chapel readied with paint Anne [...]

  13. Anne Lamott has made me finally feel like it is all going to be okay This is less of an instructional guide to the craft of writing and of an extended pep talk about living life creatively This book will not necessarily guide you in how to create stellar characters or how to merge your sub plot with your main plot line, but it will aid you in going into your writing endeavors with a sound mind and a better expectation of what the creative process holds It is profound, anecdotal and full of wry [...]

  14. Bird By Bird is less a book about writing techniques and a writer speaking to other writers and telling them that it s okay All of it All their neuroses and hang ups and setbacks It s okay Just take it word by word bird by bird I don t think I learned much from it, but just having someone say it s okay to me for two hundred and thirty seven pages was good There is some good advice in there about how to start writing a scene you don t know about, how to let your characters develop, how to deal w [...]

  15. I don t necessarily aspire to write fiction, but I loved this book all the same Along with step by step advice on dialogue, plot, characterization, etc it has Lamott s trademark wry observations about living life somewhere between faith and failure.If you feel compelled to write, write, Lamott urges I don t think you have time to waste not writing because you are afraid you won t be good enough at it Accept that you ll produce really shitty first drafts, and move on from there At its worst, writ [...]

  16. Bird by Bird is my new bible Not just for writing, but for life it is my favorite work of nonfiction so far Stephen King s On Writing impressed me, but Anne Lamott s book had me tearing up and laughing at the same time Her self deprecating sense of humor and her harsh yet realistic approach to writing won me over If I could, I would throw this book at every student at my college studying English or Creative Writing Lamott tackles topics ranging from the neurotic mentality of writing to the woes [...]

  17. I didn t enjoy this book, simply because it didn t inspire me to write I got the strong impression that Ms Lamott has horrible self esteem issues, and her overusage of self deprecating humor really wore on me after the first chapter or two She didn t give the reader the inspiration to go out and achieve the greatest thing possible in their writing lives, but instead said basically it s okay to suck, and you shouldn t worry about never getting better Maybe that s a message some people need to hea [...]

  18. This is an enjoyable read and a lovely book Anne Lamott is a very engaging writer and she is very funny, honest, and heartfelt Although I don t desire to be a writer, like most readers I ve wanted to be a writer at times in my life I took to heart her advice that at some point one has to decide whether to be a reader or a writer, a choice I d made but it solidified my decision for me The bird by bird philosophy espoused in this book can apply to all endeavors, not just the one of writing.

  19. It is a great book Works like guideline and a plan for new writers It is also inspiring Especially the last class chapter It was a nice chapter from a great book

  20. This book offered an interesting perspective on life and writing fiction She was preaching to the converted, however didn t really open my eyes to anything I wouldn t expect already know I happen to think jealousy is the ugliest human emotion Kudos to her for shamelessly admitting to her shortcomings, but I honestly wanted to close the book during this chapter I m glad I toughed it out though because it was decent well laid out writing advice, nonetheless Can t hurt for beginners Lamott comes of [...]

  21. This book is like a friend to me Anne Lamott advises and encourages towards writing as a way of life She helps the reader understand the various aspects of writing and also in introspecting and finding one s own voice This is a book that I m gonna read over and over again I love it.

  22. I can see why this is a popular book Lamott is funny, self deprecating, and encouraging even in the face of cold, hard realities She means what she says in the title, too It really does set out to be instructions on writing and life There are undoubtedly better books covering particulars of the craft, but this may be one of the best at construing a writer s perspective I liked her advice about making incremental progress the meaning of bird by bird , about getting something anything down that ca [...]

  23. I deeply dislike Anne Lammott and all her idiotic statements on writing This book was torture to read and I cannot figure out how my English teacher could have possibly assigned it This woman, with all her lengthy words, does not seem to have any sort of understanding about writing at all.I ll even use a quote from her own book to explain exactly why this book was so awful One thing I haven t told you about my famous short story Arnold is that besides sending it off every few months to my father [...]

  24. OK, now I get it.I finally understand why so many people LOVE Anne Lamott It s because of this book, because she is self deprecating, funny and full of compassionate advice in this book.She still gets on my nerves, though, especially when she starts talking about God and she mentions God quite a bit and her church and her priest friends She also has an upper class life, which always rubs me the wrong way when I pick up on that in a writer s memoir And when I say upper class, I mean the educated [...]

  25. So with this one I m going against the grain I think I understand why this is a writing classic It has practical advice with a lot of examples and metaphors and analogies to help you understand it However, it didn t teach me anything Maybe the lessons it imparts have become so ingrained that the original becomes superfluous The writing seemed overwritten to me The many examples and metaphors and analogies really started to irk me Tell me in the simplest way I don t need you to write me multiple [...]

  26. There was a time when I used to consume books like this in the hope that I might learn to write through osmosis What saves this from being just another writing guide is Anne Lamott s irreverent humour, and self deprecation I loved lines like I worry that Jesus drinks himself to sleep when he hears me talk like this For the most part, however, it s hard to even quote her, since she takes off on long comedic runs of writing tuition The book is pretty well pitched at the beginning writer but there [...]

  27. 5 31 09 This may be the single best book I have ever read in my entire life It is helping me get my work done, on a daily basis it helped me see where I do fit in life my niche and it helped me see how utterly not alone I am It s a wonderful thing.All of which I had inklings of prior to reading this book, but Lamott confirmed it Validation is such a sweet quality.If you want to understand me, read this book, and then you will Seriously.I usually write favorite quotations from a book in a journal [...]

  28. Anne Lamott is both wise and self deprecating She approaches writing with humor and a hearty dose of practicality I loved how she blends life lessons with writing advice No wonder this is a classic Now why did I wait so long to read it I enjoyed this on audio, but will reread in my print copy to make notations Full review at TheBibliophage.

  29. As I am not an aspiring novelist or creative writer of any kind it seems only fair to admit upfront that I might not exactly be Lamott s ideal audience, though I am interested in other forms of writing and hey, the title itself claims that this is as much about life as writing, right And there were sections and even whole chapters that I will continue to carry with me, that inspired me or made me pause for a moment in consideration or even made me guffaw out loud no easy feat I took this up in t [...]

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