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Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life [Library Binding]

by Anne Lamott
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (658 customer reviews)

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Book Description

October 4, 2008 1439558167 978-1439558164 Reprint
If you have ever wondered what it takes to be a writer, what it means to live a writer's life, this audio is for you. Ranging through all aspects of writing--from faith, love and grace to pain, jealousy and fear--Anne Lamott shows you how to keep your eyes open and write about what you see. Then she shows you how to survive by turning to the art of life with bracingly honest humor. 2 cassettes.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life + On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft (Scribner Classics)
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Editorial Reviews Review

Think you've got a book inside of you? Anne Lamott isn't afraid to help you let it out. She'll help you find your passion and your voice, beginning from the first really crummy draft to the peculiar letdown of publication. Readers will be reminded of the energizing books of writer Natalie Goldberg and will be seduced by Lamott's witty take on the reality of a writer's life, which has little to do with literary parties and a lot to do with jealousy, writer's block and going for broke with each paragraph. Marvelously wise and best of all, great reading. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Lamott's ( Operating Instructions ) miscellany of guidance and reflection should appeal to writers struggling with demons large and slight. Among the pearls she offers is to start small, as their father once advised her 10-year-old brother, who was agonizing over a book report on birds: "Just take it bird by bird." Lamott's suggestion on the craft of fiction is down-to-earth: worry about the characters, not the plot. But she's even better on psychological questions. She has learned that writing is more rewarding than publication, but that even writing's rewards may not lead to contentment. As a former "Leona Helmsley of jealousy," she's come to will herself past pettiness and to fight writer's block by living "as if I am dying." She counsels writers to form support groups and wisely observes that, even if your audience is small, "to have written your version is an honorable thing."
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Library Binding: 239 pages
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439558167
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439558164
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.2 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (658 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #307,071 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Anne Lamott is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Grace (Eventually), Plan B, Traveling Mercies, and Operating Instructions, as well as seven novels, including Rosie and Crooked Little Heart. She is a past recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
463 of 482 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Laughs and Lifelines! December 27, 2000
This is not a how-to book. This is not a New Age manual for freeing your creativity in ethereal ways. This is Anne Lamott, for heaven's sake...and that means it's funny! As in, laugh- till-you-can't-read-the-words-through-the-tears-in-your-eyes funny. (Some call this therapy, and I'm inclined to agree.)
Though aimed at writers, this book is full of sage advice and razor-edged honesty for the average joe. If you're a writer--and I claim to be one--it's more than a few anecdotes and good advice; it's a lifeline in the thrashing seas of rough-draftdom, a foothold on the sands of jealousy and vain ambition. Anne makes it clear that writing must be pursued for something other than mere publication. (Though, to be honest, I know she's just trying to let the majority of us down easy.) Writing is about letting go, growing, facing truths, and holding on.
I'm hooked on Lamott. She slaps me in the face with her startling revelations, nudges me in the ribs with her unpredictable humor, and prods my frozen little writer's hands back into action with warm compassion. This book won't solve the mechanical aspects of my writing, or lead me on the path of structural excellence, but it will spark my creativity, free my characters to be true to themselves, and, ultimately, shake me from my doldrums back into the writing mode.
In a society addicted to mindless facts and information, "Bird by Bird" reminds us--writers or otherwise--that it's all about heart. Heart and mind and soul dancing together, even if they step all over each other's feet.
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175 of 182 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
If there's a better book to read when you're doubting yourselfand your writing ability, I don't know what it is. IF YOU WANT TOWRITE by Brenda Ueland may be more profound, but it's not as funny... I don't think Lamott copied Ueland at all. Both books are wonders, Ueland's more spiritual or mystical--i.e. how to express your own unique self and write your truth--and Lamott's more worldy--how to get your rear in gear and start producing copy. Lamott's chapter on crumby first drafts lets you know you must start somewhere and can't do that if you're constantly criticizng and editing yourself. And she is so right--once you have a beginning, you can make it better..and better...and better. She doesn't really tell you how to do that in very specific terms, but for that there's great sourcebooks like SELF EDITING FOR FICTON WRITERS and ON WRITING WELL, which more than cover the job. Bird by Bird may be short on craft, but it's long on motivation, humor, and practical ways to get yourself writing.
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114 of 123 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Expert writing advice with a funny and easy style. April 26, 2001
This author is a new find for me, but I will surely read much more of her. She is fabulously funny, incredibly informative, and absolutely generous with her thoughts and feelings and expertise on writing. The book warmed me, and made me feel that I could continue my writing with a stronger and better perspective. For aspiring writer's everywhere, and for writers published and not, this book will take you on a journey and offer invaluable advice for your hard work. It will help you revive that natural urge to write and keep you plugging away at the keyboard during the very worst of slumps. You will also laugh with Anne Lamott, the author, who is hilarious and honest and very witty. The practical and real life advice will stay with you as you struggle to become the writer you already are.
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60 of 63 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A lovely experience of a painful process January 30, 2006
BIRD BY BIRD: SOME INSTRUCTIONS ON WRITING AND LIFE by Anne Lamott is a lovely, lovely, lovely book! Of course it is about writing, but it is also about any kind of longterm endeavor that is challenging, that creates self-doubt, and that is a channel for self _expression and self actualization. Lamott's Christianity and general spirituality, which is expressed in this book as a side note to her writing focus, is warm and friendly, and her personality, humorous and inclusive and confident, is wonderful for the reader to share. I LOVED the process of reading this book, of being with it.

This book has a charming and engaging introduction and then is divided into parts on Writing (which includes chapters called "Getting Started," "Short Assignments," "Perfectionism," "False Starts," "Plot Treatment," and "How Do You Know When You're Done?"), The Writing Frame of Mind (with chapters like "The Moral Point of View," "Broccoli," "Radio Station KFKD," and "Jealousy"), Help Along the Way ("Index Cards," Calling Around," "Writing Groups," and "Someone to Read Your Drafts" and "Writer's Block"), and final sections called "Publication -- and Other Reasons to Write" and "The Last Class."

While I actually think the writing lessons of this book are secondary to the wonderful life lessons this book contains, I have found myself using these lessons. I love the idea that first drafts can be BAAAAAAAAAAD with no harm to anyone! It's incredibly liberating and freeing, and allows one to write whatever one has to write with self-permission to do a bad job the first time round because you know you'll correct it later on. If you write ANYTHING this book will give you practical, helpful advice to advance and improve.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars meta show and tell, '90s writer version: a memoir
self-indulgent fiction writer with startlingly ethnocentric tunnel-vision follows her own advice... in the '90s. remember the '90s? i was there. Read more
Published 3 days ago by banonymous
5.0 out of 5 stars A unique and funny view of the writing life
I have loved everything I have read by Lamott, so this is no exception. She is funny, engaging, and spot on in her views on absurdities of life. Read more
Published 8 days ago by Julia Grant
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun stuff, some helpful.
I very much enjoy Anne Lamott's writing and most of this book. Some parts were more relevant to me than others, but all enjoyable.
Published 10 days ago by Patty Ellen
4.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring
This book provided relevant advice and validation for writer I hope to become some day. I love her light companionable style and found her honesty regarding the process and angst... Read more
Published 11 days ago by Kathryn Guthrie
5.0 out of 5 stars I love Lamott's writing...about writing!
I love Lamott's honesty and quirky humor and sweet crankiness. I like it that she's willing to be that self-revealing. Read more
Published 12 days ago by Bluestocking
5.0 out of 5 stars Not what I expected, but I loved it.
I loved this book, even though it's not at all what I expected when I picked it up. More of a memoir than an instructional guide, Anne Lamott tells the story of how she became a... Read more
Published 13 days ago by Diana Urban
5.0 out of 5 stars delightful read
When I consider getting copies for my friends,I must give a book the highest rating....Couldn't put it down, the book was recommended reading for a writing/ art group I am in.
Published 14 days ago by Sylvia B.
5.0 out of 5 stars If you have a desire to write......
Outstanding book. Written in a very informative, interesting & humorous manner. Keeps your attention from beginning to end. Read more
Published 15 days ago by suzie davis
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent writing guide and tips for an aspiring author
Anne Lammot is precise and doesn't try to make writing and publishing an easy path. She exposes all the tests that yoy must pass in order to become an author. Read more
Published 16 days ago by Leonel Garcia
5.0 out of 5 stars Super Funny
Anne Lamott is super funny in this book. I have been reading it over the course of the last 2 years (I just keep getting busy which is why I haven't finished it) and every time I... Read more
Published 26 days ago by Hannah Dalton
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