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Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

by Anne Lamott

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
9,094223698 (4.15)265
The author of five books, including the novels Hard Laughter, Rosie and Joe Jones, offers an "inspiring book about writing as a way of finding truth" (San Francisco Chronicle). "A reveille to get off our duffs and start writing now, while we still can".--Seattle Times. "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, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother's shoulder, and said, 'Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.'"… (more)
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» See also 265 mentions

English (221)  Dutch (1)  All languages (222)
Showing 1-5 of 221 (next | show all)
An excellent book about writing, nearly thirty years old now but I hadn't previously come across it. Plenty of advice that isn't new, but is expressed in rather different ways, using hyperbole at times, personal anecdotes, and reminders that we should write, and not worry about first drafts.

Although the author is a Christian believer, she's not a fundamentalist, nor does she write about 'Christian writing'. And some of the language used is much stronger than I'm entirely comfortable with. I found some of the American references, particularly to sports, went right over my head.

But even with all that, I thought it one of the best books I've read on the topic - and there are many! - and would recommend it to anyone wanting a balanced and very honest view of life as a writer.

Longer review here: https://suesbookreviews.blogspot.com/2022/05/bird-by-bird-by-anne-lamott.html ( )
  SueinCyprus | May 22, 2022 |
Bird by Bird : Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott (1995)
  sharibillops | May 20, 2022 |
It's amazing how little has changed about the writing life since this book was published in the mid 1990s. Well said, at every turn. ( )
  Musscle | Mar 28, 2022 |
Very entertaining and heart-warming.

The advice was mostly common sense for me at this point, perhaps also related to its age and the plethora of writing advice books and blogs that have followed it. In spite of this, it was still an inspiring read that is a useful antidote to the isolation of writing in a vacuum.

In terms of practical value, this book is most relevant for someone just beginning to write. For example my mother, who is interested in writing memoirs (which is what the author mostly writes), found it very insightful and revelatory. ( )
  zennkat | Feb 9, 2022 |
I reread this book—nearly 14 years after my first reading—on the recommendation of author Daniel Pink. Do you have any influencers whose recommendations you often follow? Read my full review here. ( )
  joyblue | Feb 2, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 221 (next | show all)
A gift to all of us mortals who write or ever wanted to write...sidesplittingly funny, patiently wise and alternately cranky and kind--a reveille to get off our duffs and start writing now, while we still can.
added by ArrowStead | editSeattle Times
 
Superb writing advice...hilarious, helpful and provocative.
added by ArrowStead | editNew York Times Book Review
 
A warm, generous, and hilarious guide through the writer's world and its treacherous swamps.
added by ArrowStead | editLos Angeles Times
 

» Add other authors (15 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Anne Lamottprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bennett, SusanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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I grew up around a father and a mother who read every chance they got, who took us to the library every Thursday night to load up on books for the coming week.
Quotations
…getting all of one’s addictions under control is a little like putting an octopus to bed.
...perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor.
I understood immediately the thrill of seeing oneself in print. It provides some sort of primal verifications. You are; therefore you exist.
If you find that you start a number of stories or pieces that you don't even bother finishing, that you lose interest or faith in them along the way, it may be that there is nothing at their center about which you care passionately.
…if you are writing the clearest, truest words you can find and doing the best you can to understand and communicate, this will shine on paper like its own little lighthouse.”
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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The author of five books, including the novels Hard Laughter, Rosie and Joe Jones, offers an "inspiring book about writing as a way of finding truth" (San Francisco Chronicle). "A reveille to get off our duffs and start writing now, while we still can".--Seattle Times. "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, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother's shoulder, and said, 'Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.'"

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Book description
I found this book in a library after my life fell apart one rainy day in California. I thought the writing was so clean and simple and straight forward and funny that I almost cried with happiness. Telling the truth is really hard, but writing the truth is almost impossible. After that day, I went back to college for a few decades...so glad I did.
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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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Recorded Books

An edition of this book was published by Recorded Books.

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