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on October 12, 2017
This is a lovely book about "how to write." It is full of good humor and good advice. After the introduction I was laughing out loud and after the first few chapters, I was invigorated to go write fiction as fast as possible for the rest of my life. If there are any real downers in this book they are that not enough attention has been given to Scribl and Smashwords and (yes) Amazon self-publishing (however, this is totally forgivable, since the book was published in 1995, still, an addendum would be nice), and that the author is so brutally frank about the realities of being a professional author (seems you need more than a couple of New York Times Bestsellers under your belt before you can even be confident of paying the rent on time every month -- who knew? -- maybe this "write fiction forevermore" idea I had is not economically the wisest). Lamott never condescends or minces, she writes to us in the voice of an established beginner addressing slightly less experienced beginners with encouragement but also with hard facts. The language is for grown-ups, but the message is clear (and could probably be paraphrased helpfully even for grade schoolers, as long as we leave out some of the cancer-paranoia and the wonderful story about the effing keys). Whether or not I ever really get published, I am grateful to Lamott for giving me this view of the landscape without talking down to me or filling it full of fluffy rainbows.
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on October 10, 2017
I enjoyed reading Bird by Bird. It was recommended to me by a fantastic blogger I follow. I thought it would read like a textbook, but I was pleasantly surprised. It reads like a nonfiction book with amazing advice sprinkled through the pages. The author has a unique way of mixing humor with useful information that is relevant to both everyday life and writing. I have found the book to be helpful in both manners and find myself recalling tidbits throughout my day. Furthermore, I am taking a creative writing class and have been able to refer to Bird by Bird many times during my college class.
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on November 15, 2015
Right at the start, Lamott tells us that "good writing is about telling the truth." The writing life is a tough road, but Bird by Bird is a wonderful guide that shines a warm light over it.

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.
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on December 1, 2013
When I started reading this book, I thought it would be one of those conventional boring textbooks that teach students the right way to produce a piece of writing. I was wrong. Anne Lamotte puts a lot of her previous personal experiences onto the book. She enhances this feeling by using metaphors, sarcasm and irony throughout her passages, passing a feeling that she started from the bottom just like any other student. The way she uses personal examples and even tells stories about her family (most about her father, who was a writer), makes this book really easy to read.
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.
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on May 2, 2017
Anne Lamott is hilarious - anyone who is a writer should read this.
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on February 25, 2017
I write memoirs for clients for a living, and found this book helpful. Ms. Lamott is a beautiful writer and this makes me want to work harder, yet also leaves me with a sinking fear that I’ll never in a million years be as good as she is. That happens whenever I read great writing. (Don't all creative people battle this self-doubt?) Lamont is a bestselling memoir author and she tells stories from her own life and her personal rules for writing memoir. One example: Tell the Truth. That sounds obvious, but she discusses some of the nuances of what that means when writing about a person’s life. The book is a how-to guide, peppered with personal vignettes. I liked this book enough to include it in my personal top 10 list of favorite books on memoir and creativity.
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on July 20, 2017
Every budding writer needs to own a copy of this book. It will inspire you to keep at it when times get tough. It doesn't so much teach how to write as it teaches writer's how to stay sane.
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on November 15, 2015
Short assignments, s***ty first drafts, 300 words a day minimum, and let nobody read your first draft. That, in a nutshell, is the advice offered by this book. Is this an advice book? Not really. It is more a life example by a successful writer, an open kimono showing what works for her (and might work for us).

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.
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on June 14, 2017
I've read this book so many times, I've lost count! It's such a treasure, as is Anne Lamott. I don't know how many people I've given it to anymore, but every time I do, I feel like I'm sharing something incredibly special. Can't recommend this book enough, whether you're a writer, or a human of any kind :)
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on January 19, 2016
There's a reason this book is a modern classic: it's real, raw, practical yet transcendent. Lamott makes it look so easy, but what she's done here is tremendously difficult: made a practical guide into something more like a spiritual text. And I don't mean spiritual, like preachy or religious, I mean spiritual as in the evocation of wonder, mystery, doubt, faith in all the seasons of our little lives. This is about the tenth time I've read the book, but the first time I've taken a moment to review it. If you are a creative at all - an artist of any stripe - do yourself a favor and sit down with this book. Here you will find the validation that will keep you going, keep you creating, keep you making art.
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