- Paperback: 272 pages
- Publisher: Anchor; 1 edition (September 1, 1995)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0385480016
- ISBN-13: 978-0385480017
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 1,263 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,602 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 an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
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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.
My personal point of view is that she passes her message with excellence. I am a freshman college student now, and this was the year that I was required the most to have a good background in terms of writing. I assume this happens with every freshman student. Gladly, my professor is a big fan of her work and methods (which I highly recommend to be followed) and gave the class her book as a textbook.
She organized her content so well, that readers can easily notice the steps of writing. The most helpful tool she used in this book was making herself a character, making this book sound like a story (with a lot of content) and not a textbook that is boring to be read. Besides, I can assume that most of young students struggle very hard when it comes to the time to decide the project genre and begin with the work. Anne Lamotte does a good job on this too; she tells the audience the details of the times she felt this way to, making the reader (in this case, me) feel safe and more calm.
I highly recommend this book for college students and even high school students. Regular textbooks may have the same writing content her book has, but the WAY she develops to express this content made this book one of the best I've had to learn.
One reason I believe this book is so successful as a teaching tool is that its style and content embody the lessons taught. The tone is intimate, the pacing brisk, and the “lessons” mercifully non-academic. It’s funny too. My first sentence of this review could be seen as dismissive, or critical, but I don’t intend it that way. Lamott expands upon those bits of advice, making a convincing case of their wisdom. Her vision is one of just get on with it, don’t panic, write every day, keep going, good things will happen. If you are unsuccessful writing privately, as she espouses, then you are probably not a writer.
She has great stuff about what happens when you show your drafts and try to get published. She even has a chapter about the agony of watching fellow writer friends becoming successful.
This book is not a textbook on how to structure a novel, or whether or not to outline, but rather a non-fiction roman à clef about becoming a writer. It taught me some important lessons, it was fun, and the instruction just might stick, which is all you can really ask for from such a book.