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Paperback Bird by Bird : Some Instructions on Writing and Life Book

ISBN: 0385480016

ISBN13: 9780385480017

Bird by Bird : Some Instructions on Writing and Life

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Book Overview

"A warm, generous and hilarious guide through the writer's world and its treacherous swamps." -- Los Angeles Times Advice on writing and on life from an acclaimed bestselling author: "Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he'd had three months to write. It was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears,...

Customer Reviews

7 ratings

this book will ground the most overzealous writer in a good way while still encouraging progress

this book just speaks about the day in the life of the writer full time. We all have our ups and downs and this book illustrates that in-depth with coping strategies.

Book not as promised

The book was listed as "Like New." The front cover was dirty and stained. Inside there was heavy underlining in ink.

A lovely experience of a painful process

BIRD BY BIRD: SOME INSTRUCTIONS ON WRITING AND LIFE by Anne Lamott is a lovely, lovely, lovely book! Of course it is about writing, but it is also about any kind of longterm endeavor that is challenging, that creates self-doubt, and that is a channel for self _expression and self actualization. Lamott's Christianity and general spirituality, which is expressed in this book as a side note to her writing focus, is warm and friendly, and her personality, humorous and inclusive and confident, is wonderful for the reader to share. I LOVED the process of reading this book, of being with it. This book has a charming and engaging introduction and then is divided into parts on Writing (which includes chapters called "Getting Started," "Short Assignments," "Perfectionism," "False Starts," "Plot Treatment," and "How Do You Know When You're Done?"), The Writing Frame of Mind (with chapters like "The Moral Point of View," "Broccoli," "Radio Station KFKD," and "Jealousy"), Help Along the Way ("Index Cards," Calling Around," "Writing Groups," and "Someone to Read Your Drafts" and "Writer's Block"), and final sections called "Publication -- and Other Reasons to Write" and "The Last Class." While I actually think the writing lessons of this book are secondary to the wonderful life lessons this book contains, I have found myself using these lessons. I love the idea that first drafts can be BAAAAAAAAAAD with no harm to anyone! It's incredibly liberating and freeing, and allows one to write whatever one has to write with self-permission to do a bad job the first time round because you know you'll correct it later on. If you write ANYTHING this book will give you practical, helpful advice to advance and improve. I underlined in this book, which is something that as a librarian's daughter, I almost never do, but this book feels like a reference, a guide, in a way that other works do not. I underlined things like, "Hope is a revolutionary patience" on page xxiii and "Because for some of us, books are as important as almost anything on earth" on page 15. Lamott quotes from other wondrous writers, she writes about events in her own life that elevate her and that enervate her. But everything she writes is about taking lots of small steps in one direction. I literally laughed and cried while reading this wonderful and wondrous memoir about the process of writing and how life's pains and joys illustrate this process for Lamott ... I nearly wished I still taught freshman composition so I could use it as a text book. It is the most honest, charming, personable and true description of the painful and rewarding act of writing that I have ever read. I recommend it to anyone, writer or not, who is engaged in a longterm, or even lifelong endeavor. Anne Lamott will simultaneously soothe and inspire any reader of BIRD BY BIRD.

Funny, poignant, and powerful

I can honestly say that this is the best book on writing that I've ever read, and yes, it's also the only book on writing that I've ever read. But what a way to start. I've avoided the genre because I've wanted to figure things out on my own, but this book is more like a conversation with a writer than a tome on how to write. She's talks about how she started, what keeps her motivated, what she does when she gets stuck, and how she deals with various writer anxieties (re: publication, rejection, validation). Above all, this is a very funny, laugh-out-loud book. Lamott has a quirky sense of humor and a refreshing, spot on ability to create memorable pictures. Despite writing of her own spirituality, Lamott doesn't get preachy or smug or self-righteous, and so her stories end up being truly inspiring. She talks about giving as a writer, and I found in her stories many gifts. A couple of gems that I've tucked away: * One-inch picture frames: big ideas can engulf you; write about a moment in time, one short scene, something that would fit into a one-inch picture frame. * Writing is putting down one word after another (the best advice for a writer is to...write).* You have to give your best stuff to your current project (she references Annie Dillard for this idea) and not try to save it or hoard it; sort of a 'use it or lose it' attitude. * The myth of publication: if you weren't enough before publication, you're not going to be enough after publication. Lots to digest, and worth rereading.

Expert writing advice with a funny and easy style.

This author is a new find for me, but I will surely read much more of her. She is fabulously funny, incredibly informative, and absolutely generous with her thoughts and feelings and expertise on writing. The book warmed me, and made me feel that I could continue my writing with a stronger and better perspective. For aspiring writer's everywhere, and for writers published and not, this book will take you on a journey and offer invaluable advice for your hard work. It will help you revive that natural urge to write and keep you plugging away at the keyboard during the very worst of slumps. You will also laugh with Anne Lamott, the author, who is hilarious and honest and very witty. The practical and real life advice will stay with you as you struggle to become the writer you already are.

Laughs and Lifelines!

This is not a how-to book. This is not a New Age manual for freeing your creativity in ethereal ways. This is Anne Lamott, for heaven's sake...and that means it's funny! As in, laugh- till-you-can't-read-the-words-through-the-tears-in-your-eyes funny. (Some call this therapy, and I'm inclined to agree.)Though aimed at writers, this book is full of sage advice and razor-edged honesty for the average joe. If you're a writer--and I claim to be one--it's more than a few anecdotes and good advice; it's a lifeline in the thrashing seas of rough-draftdom, a foothold on the sands of jealousy and vain ambition. Anne makes it clear that writing must be pursued for something other than mere publication. (Though, to be honest, I know she's just trying to let the majority of us down easy.) Writing is about letting go, growing, facing truths, and holding on. I'm hooked on Lamott. She slaps me in the face with her startling revelations, nudges me in the ribs with her unpredictable humor, and prods my frozen little writer's hands back into action with warm compassion. This book won't solve the mechanical aspects of my writing, or lead me on the path of structural excellence, but it will spark my creativity, free my characters to be true to themselves, and, ultimately, shake me from my doldrums back into the writing mode.In a society addicted to mindless facts and information, "Bird by Bird" reminds us--writers or otherwise--that it's all about heart. Heart and mind and soul dancing together, even if they step all over each other's feet.

Funny, inspiring, & wise--but get your craft elsewhere

If there's a better book to read when you're doubting yourselfand your writing ability, I don't know what it is. IF YOU WANT TOWRITE by Brenda Ueland may be more profound, but it's not as funny... I don't think Lamott copied Ueland at all. Both books are wonders, Ueland's more spiritual or mystical--i.e. how to express your own unique self and write your truth--and Lamott's more worldy--how to get your rear in gear and start producing copy. Lamott's chapter on crumby first drafts lets you know you must start somewhere and can't do that if you're constantly criticizng and editing yourself. And she is so right--once you have a beginning, you can make it better..and better...and better. She doesn't really tell you how to do that in very specific terms, but for that there's great sourcebooks like SELF EDITING FOR FICTON WRITERS and ON WRITING WELL, which more than cover the job. Bird by Bird may be short on craft, but it's long on motivation, humor, and practical ways to get yourself writing.

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