Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

by Anne Lamott

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780385480017
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/28/1995
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 11,491
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Anne Lamott is the New York Times bestselling author of Help, Thanks, Wow; Small Victories; StitchesSome Assembly RequiredGrace (Eventually)Plan BTraveling Mercies; Bird by BirdOperating Instructions, and the forthcoming Hallelujah Anyway. She is also the author of several novels, including Imperfect Birds and Rosie. A past recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and an inductee to the California Hall of Fame, she lives in Northern California.

Hometown:

Fairfax, California

Date of Birth:

1954

Place of Birth:

San Francisco, California

Education:

Attended Goucher College in Maryland before dropping out to write

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Bird by Bird (SparkNotes Literature Guide Series) 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 180 reviews.
Angela2932ND More than 1 year ago
Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird initial appeal to me was that it looked like a little book that would be an enjoyable guide for writing. And it IS a very enjoyable read that made me want to grab a pen, or computer, and start writing away. She's wonderful at consoling us all for being regular human beings with all our foibles and quirks, and she has an excellent way of making me feel not quite so neurotic after all. But what she doesn't offer is any particular really helpful writing advice. She's creative and clever, and made me laugh a lot. . . and gave me something to do INSTEAD OF writing. But then, at the end of the book, when I tried to grasp hold of exactly what the solid advice, what the actual recommended writing information might have been. . . . I had nothing. But it sure was fun to read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am a college student reading this book for a writing class, and I can honestly say this is one of the best books about writing I have ever read. My entire class loves this book, and we are quoting from it all the time! Lamott does a great job balancing humor and personal advice about the writing process. Experienced writers will be able to relate to the author's opinions about writing, while beginner writers will pick up some great tips on how to improve their writing skills. This is an awesome book for writers at any level, and I highly recommend it!
a_heart-writer More than 1 year ago
Whether you are an aspiring writer, a published professional, or someone with a sense of humor, Lamott's playful wit will entertain you as she vividly and accurately illustrates the inner workings of a writer's mind. If you are not a writer, yourself, you will identify with the nuggets of wisdom Lamott has weaved into her constructive description of an approach to writing fiction. The main nugget of wisdom - to face overwhelming tasks one step at a time or "bird by bird" - is exemplary of how she takes real life examples and applies her concepts not only to the craft of writing, but also to the art of living.
SW-RALCC More than 1 year ago
The book is about a girl named Anne who grow up living with her mother and father. Her father was a wrtier for a long time and then he developed brain cancer and told her to take notes so that she was able to write about his cancer and what she went through while he had brain cancer. When she became a writer she started helping younger people how to write and told them her experinces on writing. i thought this book was boring in the beginning but then it got better in the middle of the book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Concerned that my review of Ann Lamott's 1994 book bird by bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life could not begin to do it justice, I kept putting it off. In fact, this book's advice is so excellent and comprehensive, that I sent a copy of it to an actress friend who is facing severe emotional trauma, with none of it having anything to do with writer's block. By page two of the introduction Ann already had me laughing. She claims it was predicted she'd grow up to be a serial killer, while I had a police officer declare that I would surely attain adulthood as either a murderer, or an actor playing a murderer. At page 205 of this 236-paged paperback, she mentions how a writer must be innocent, of which I certainly am. Only after I am once again blindsided I typically label my actions either naive or ignorant and only sometimes innocent. Like me, the 1950s born Ms.Lamott, also felt different from the other kids and also found her refuge in books. While using less precise and far more esoteric thoughts and words, bird by bird, like Making a Literary Life steps the reader through exactly what must be done if she wishes to become a published author. In her book, Ms. Lamott goes from the actual steps of writing the book, to the writer's mindset, to finding free help, to getting published and indeed, why to even write at all. Speaking as a successful, published author, she thoroughly covers the writer's life in both a humble and humorous fashion. In point of fact, I enjoyed this book so much that I transported out of my usual science fiction genre and went and paid full price for one of her down to Earth novels.
DearReader More than 1 year ago
This book gives real advice to real people trying to get some air under the wings of their writing. It is not intended as a practical how-to-write-a-novel instruction book. It is a advice and encouragement, and an inside look at the habits and approaches she herself takes to sitting down to a blank piece of paper and getting going.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book for my senior year required reading, and I am honestly grateful that my teacher included it on the list. Bird by Bird is full of little jewels of advice that help not only aspiring authors but also the non-writer. Lamott punctuates her points with anecdotes both comical and sobering, relevant analogies, and wonderfully quotable lines, all while injecting humor into a topic that sorely needed it. I even used her ideas about perfectionism to write my college essay. This is one book that I truly think everyone should pick up.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lamott offers little help for practical technical problesm of writing. I was looking for help putting the pieces of a complex novel together into a coherent whole. She gives you a little boost if you have a discouraged attitude. That's about it.
amyfaerie on LibraryThing 10 months ago
A nurturing, inspiring book on being a writer. I'm a sucker for this sort of book, but this is one of the best.
beau.p.laurence on LibraryThing 10 months ago
WONDERFUL book on patience -- in writing and in life
lexly87 on LibraryThing 10 months ago
I read this book in two days during Memorial weekend 2006
RajivC on LibraryThing 11 months ago
This is an excellent book for the budding writer. It does not matter whether or not you wish to be published, or whether or not you want to write a blog for yourself; the book is full of little gems and little tips from which you can profit. The style of writing is elegant and simple, and Anne Lamont talks to the reader, not at the reader. This is a book that I highly recommend to anyone who wants to write. Keep it, and refer to it from time to time.
RandyMetcalfe on LibraryThing 11 months ago
Writers write, as they say. That is about the only certain advice one can receive from a book on writing and life and the writing life. With a wry, self-deprecating, brutally honest demeanour, Anne Lamott informs her students that the way to become a writer is to sit down every day at the same time with a clean piece of paper or the file on your computer you¿ve been slaving over for more than a year¿and write. Only those who have actually attempted this will appreciate, along with Lamott, just how difficult it may be to fulfil that simple injunction. She is well aware that you will stare at the page or the screen sometimes for hours on end; that you will reconsider your decision to post-pone the fun you could have had working on your taxes; that the corner of your desk will become endlessly fascinating and just may be the grain of sand in which you will perceive the whole¿yes, just about anything is more enticing, at times, than writing.This book shares a few useful techniques to help your writing process, which I¿ll get to in a moment, but what makes it one of the best books on writing that I have read is Lamott¿s compassion for others in her situation. Because more than anything else, this is a book about compassion. Compassion for others, certainly, but also compassion for oneself. That, and learning the value of producing an SFD: a ¿shitty first draft¿.Lamott has a strong belief in the power of writing per se. If you press on, word after damn word, reaching a certain number of words per day (she suggests three hundred as a target), eventually you will complete your SFD. And here is an important tip: don¿t show your SFD to anyone. The embarrassment of riches (and the stink) of an SFD should be yours alone. Fortunately, once you¿ve got an SFD you can move on to the rewriting stage¿because having made something, your job as a writer is to make it better. Of course making it better can take a long time. It may involve sharing your current versions with your writing group, with a trusted but critical colleague, with an editor or your agent, if you have one. The good news is that no matter how bad they think your writing is or how much further you¿ve got to go with it, at least you can rest easy that they didn¿t see your SFD.By all means borrow this book from your local public library. And when you¿ve finished reading it, go out and find it in a bookshop somewhere. Because you¿ll want to have it on the shelf in your office to glance at when you are staring at that blank page (or screen) to remind you that, well, writers write. (P.S. If you think this review is bad, you should have seen my SFD.) Recommended.
JosephJ on LibraryThing 11 months ago
Lamott¿s witty, entertaining and honest voice illuminate both the ups and the downs of the writing life. Her musings on everything from plot to perfectionism to publication are carefully worded wake-up calls for new (and continuing) writers. One my favorite lines speaks indirectly to many insecurities of many writersl: ¿You are not going to be able to give us the plans to the submarine. Life is not a submarine.¿
JacobsBeloved on LibraryThing 11 months ago
I loved, loved, LOVED this book! Anne Lamott wrote this book as if she were teaching a writing class, but that description only covers about half of what the book is about, as the subtitle hints at with the word "Life." I would consider this book somewhat autobiographical in nature, since Lamott uses her own life experiences to demonstrate how she writes. The descriptions and metaphors were so vivid and on point that they had me at times laughing out loud, in tears, or having to put the book down just so I could contemplate what I had just read. The tips that she gave regarding the writing process were things that any person could both understand and use, whether or not he had any experience or formal education as a writer. Her tips ranged from tell the truth and write about your childhood to find a partner and use index cards to record ideas. She gives wonderful advice about the life of a writer, such as if your life is not enough before publication, then it won't be enough after publication. I know that I will read this book again and again, gleaning her tips, stories, and metaphors like a prospector sifting for gold flecks. I can't recommend this book enough for any would-be writer or even any aficionado of the written word.
AmyLiz on LibraryThing 11 months ago
One of the best books on writing, ever.
g0ldenboy on LibraryThing 11 months ago
There's a lot of practical, common sense advice here. There's also a lot of fluff. This is a good book of suggestions for the lost writer, but far from an absolutely true guide for every writer.
writergirl on LibraryThing 11 months ago
A must read for writers of all stripes.
wktarin on LibraryThing 11 months ago
Engaging, if not always inspiring.
rboyechko on LibraryThing 11 months ago
The book is funny, that's for sure. There were many a time that I shared some passage or other with my wife, who also thought it was funny. As far as writing advice is concerned, it wasn't that profound for me. Yes, I do need to write daily, I do need to write small chunks so that it's not so overwhelming, I need to enjoy writing, I need to observe the world around me, and I have to lock the hope of being published somewhere deep in side. That's what everybody says, more or less. Again, though, funny, full of personal anecdotes and quotes.
SLuce on LibraryThing 11 months ago
Read based on suggestion of So Many Books. Enjoyed
ilovebooksdlk on LibraryThing 11 months ago
I just love Anne Lamott and her instructions to writers in this book is positively priceless. Rather than writing a how-to writing tome, she guides us through some of the activities that inform her own writing, many of them now part of my own repetoire as a writer.She's funny, honest, and her advice is spot on.
clparson on LibraryThing 11 months ago
I received this book as a Christmas gift from my parents. I found this book very helpful in the sense that the author shares her successes and failures. Though it does not go in depth in regards to grammar, plot developement, character developement, the author did share some helpful tips. One of her tips is to carry note cards everywhere. You never know when an idea will strike. I tend to lose note cards so I opted for a digital recorder. This book showed me that every other writer goes through the same torture when starting his/her career. I will be sure to read this book again.
SqueakyChu on LibraryThing 11 months ago
I picked up this book because I thought it was about birds. Its title and cover art were certainly deceiving. Nevertheless, when I found out it was about writing, I was pleased. I figured I could always use more advice in that realm. Each of us might not have the talent to write well, but we do have the ability to improve our writing. For those of us who want to try our hand at writing, this is an excellent book with which to begin. Bird by Bird is organized in such a way that it is possible to dip into an appropriate chapter based on whatever topic is most pertinent at a particular time. Very easy to read, it dispenses advice in a friendly and humorous manner. The book deals more with the psychology of writing than with its technical aspects, but this is what many people need to even begin.I¿d recommend this book for anyone who wishes to write, is uncertain about his or her writing ability, or has writer's block. It has inspired me to try to improve my writing. I¿ll now be passing this book along to a friend whom I hope to encourage to begin writing once again.
miriamparker on LibraryThing 11 months ago
Essentially worthless, except there is a good exercise about elementary school lunch.