Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life Paperback – Sep 1 1995
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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.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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!!
author of "Our Brown Eyed Boy"
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.
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.Read more ›
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.
Most recent customer reviews
Whimsical, inspiring and hard to put down. The writer goes off on tangents and seems to ramble but surprisingly makes her point at the end.Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
It has been a tool in motivating and encouraging me to write... it is realistic and I like that no sugar coting...Published 4 months ago by Miss Anita G
Simply amazing. Every one who even thinks about writing needs this book!Published 9 months ago by Pamela Burke
I absolutely love Anne Lamott. I love her wit, her humour, and her wonderfully real walk in faith. She is at once, irreverent and deeply, spiritually grounded. Read morePublished 21 months ago by S A Warrington
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