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Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life Paperback – Sep 1 1995

4.5 out of 5 stars 217 customer reviews

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Frequently Bought Together

  • Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life
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  • On Writing: 10th Anniversary Edition: A Memoir of the Craft
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  • On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor; 1 edition (Sept. 1 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385480016
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385480017
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 1.5 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 136 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars 217 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #579 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Amazon

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.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have read Anne's books for years but never thought to read her book on how to be a writer. That was a big mistake. As someone who loves to write myself I am once again humbled by the simplicity with with Anne makes things.

If you have even a small desire to write, buy this book. Buy it now and then get started on writing your s***ty first draft.
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Format: Paperback
The writer's life isn't always glamorous, but there is usually never a dull moment(OK maybe a few). LaMott tells it like it is. I got this book from my sister Sarah, who knew I was writing my first book. It turned out to be one of my favorite books of all time.
It was interesting to eavesdrop on different strategies she employed to keep her writing fresh and creative. The book was so well written, I felt like I was talking to a good friend. Well Done Anne!!
Jeffrey McAndrew
author of "Our Brown Eyed Boy"
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By Debra Purdy Kong TOP 500 REVIEWER on Aug. 21 2015
Format: Paperback
Regardless of the many years I’ve been writing, it’s always worthwhile to pick up a recommended book on the topic. I’d heard great things about Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird from colleagues for years, but only bought a copy last month. To put it succinctly, the book blew me away.

Lamott personalizes her journey as an author, mother, and teacher. By sharing her experiences, she’s made the writer’s many ups and downs instantly relatable. It was like combining a distance education class with a candid discussion over a glass of wine. Lamott’s chapters on getting started were especially useful to me, as was the section on the importance of characters driving the plot.

You’ll want to refer to Bird by Bird often. In fact, it’s one of the best books on writing I’ve ever read, and trust me, I’ve read more than a few. Oh, and one more point: read the introduction. It’s an absolute delight and provides interesting backstory about Lamott’s life. Even if you’re not a writer, you’ll find her insights to the uncertain and all-too-often agonizing process an eye opener.
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Format: Paperback
In the world of writing there are many different books that one can check out to find guidance and inspiration. This book explains how to write in a down to earth way. Writing is like walking, taking one step at a time until you end up where you want to be. Oferring everything from she has ever learned about writing Anne Lamott presents it in a way that is humorous, inspirational and can help any writer who is having trouble. After you finish reading this book you will be motivated to want to write for hours upon hours.
The first part of the book is a basic overview of how to write a work of literature. The number one rule of writing is to tell the truth. The reader does not want to read a story from an unrealiable source. After the writer swears to write the truth Lamott says to start from the very beginning of your life. Write down everything: where you went to school? who your friends and teachers were? What clothes you wore? things like that. Then expand the details, write the fine points and then just keep going. Writing is observing what is around you and putting that on paper. To get into the mood for writing, make it a habit, sit down at the same time, and just write. The only way to get better at something is to practice, so practice writing. This process is the same for everyone.
Once you start the writing, the characters need to come into play. What are the different personalities of these people? Are they good with morals? Or are they bad to the bone? Now ask yourself different uestions and think of an answer that the character might respond with. Get to know your characters personally and let there be something at stake or else the story will be very boring. One way to familiarize yourself with the characters is to base them on people you know.
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As some of the other reviewers have said, the actual writing advice in this book is slight and conceptual. I also found it inspirational, to a point.
The book's failing is in assuming that the author's reason for writing--to uncover the truth in her life experience--is the only important one. Lamott dismisses other writing (presumably commercial fiction) as "making candy."
This stance is elitist and annoying (it's the same one you get from most college writing instructors). The argument goes like this: you must aspire to uncover the Truth, because that is what literature is for. Writing that doesn't do this--writing that merely entertains, for example--is less than worthy (it's just "making candy," and candy rots your teeth). Lamott at least tells you that you probably won't be good enough, and probably won't make any money even if you are--but she still insists that you pursue Truth.
I don't buy it. Humans have a fundamental need for stories of all kinds. Creating a story and telling it well enough to be published is noble enough, without burdening yourself with the fear that you're not writing "truth," or that your writing is somehow less important than any other.
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Format: Paperback
Writing can be magical -- to be a conduit of the voices, to be merely the typist, to get out of the way of your characters, and to see the story develope like a Polaroid. Anne Lamott's book is practical, entertaining, insightful, amusing, and right on. I'm reading it for about the third time along with Julia Cameron's "An Artist's Way". I'm just starting to accept that the important thing, as Lamott points out, is the process of writing not the product. This book is good for beginners but a reminder for us who write and put our poems, short stories, novels in boxes within boxes in file cabinets in the basement. Anne Lamott reminds us that writing is a very human activity. It is humbling and exhilerating. And when we feel so alone in the process, Anne Lamott reminds us we're not alone in the things we confront or experience in the process. Writing is messy . . . is art. The magic, the secrets of the art come from ordinary experiences in the process. So, holy grail? Everybody has their own experience in salvation. Anne Lamott just reminds us common people who have to write to remain sane that we're not alone.
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