- Paperback: 272 pages
- Publisher: Anchor; 1 edition (September 1, 1995)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0385480016
- ISBN-13: 978-0385480017
- Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.6 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 1,240 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #876 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life 1st Edition
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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.
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 the Library Binding edition.
Top customer reviews
I recommend this book to writers and non-writers. I bet if you are a non-writer, you will want to write after reading this book.
While not discouraging people from following their dreams she reinforces that writing is its own reward and that exploring your own dark places and having the courage to write your truth can be incredibly enriching and empowering on its own. I learnt so much about writing and life from this book and my Kindle highlighter went into overdrive. This is a book I see myself returning to for years to come for its great wisdom and inspiration. Oh, and did I also mention it's very funny with lots of LOL moments?
Here are just a few of my favourite quotes:
On lacking drive: "If you find that you start a number of stories or pieces that you don't even bother finishing, that you lose interest or faith in them along the way, it may be that there is nothing at their centre about which you care passionately. You need to put yourself at their centre, you and what you believe to be true or right. The core ethical concepts in which you most passionately believe are the language in which you are writing"
On writer's block: "The word block suggests you are constipated or stuck, when the truth is you are empty....If you accept the reality that you have been given - that you are not in a productive creative period - you free yourself to begin filling up again."
On truth: "The great writers keep writing about the cold dark place within, the water under a frozen lake or the secluded, camouflaged hole.....Your anger and damage and grief are the way to the truth. We don't have much truth to express unless we have gone into those rooms and closets and woods and abysses that we were told not to go into....Tell the truth as you understand it. If you're a writer, you have a moral obligation to do this. And it is a revolutionary act - truth is always subversive."
On giving: "You have to give from the deepest part of yourself and you are going to have to go on giving, and the giving is going to have to be its own reward. There is no cosmic importance to your getting something published, but there is in learning to be a giver....What your giving can do is to help your readers be braver, be better than they are, be open to the world again."
On bad reviews: "I have gotten prepub reviews that said I was a treadmark on the underpants of life.....if you are a writer, it is going to happen to you."
On writing as its own reward: "As a writer, one will have over the years many experiences that stimulate and nourish the spirit. These will be quiet and deep inside, however, unaccompanied by thunder or tremulous angels."
If you don't know where to start, or if you feel oppressed by perfectionism or the infamous writer's block, this book has some advice for you. You will learn to treat your characters as living (ficticious) beings, and that they dictate the plot.
Bird by Bird is not a rulebook, but it reads more like a friendly conversation. I recommend it to all kinds of writers.
1) Connecting the Dots - backwards : you dont know the dots will connect in the future, only backwards, only your intuition, faith, trusting your gut that your story will make sense somehow, someday - Keep Looking, Dont Settle
2) Death is Inevitable, the greatest change agent of life - dont waste limited time living someone else's life - we are all naked, so be brave and be who you want to be, say what you want to say
3) Stay Hungry Stay foolish