Today I want to talk about Anne Lamott’s book Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. Imagine taking a writing workshop with an author who has published several well-know books but is still relatable, with a self-deprecating sense of humor. This author will walk you through the insanity that is the writing life. That’s what reading this book is like.
This book gets its title from a story Lamott tells about her brother when they were children. Her brother had waited until the last minute to write a long report on birds, and the task seemed overwhelming. Her father gave this advice: “Just take it bird by bird.”
That story exemplifies Lamott’s approach to writing. Throughout the book, she encourages her readers to write the terrible first drafts that they must write in order to find the stories they have to tell, taking it in small chunks and later editing out the parts that don’t ring true.
Lamott offers a lot of practical advice and encouragement, along with plenty of anecdotes from her own life. Her honesty is refreshing as well. Although at times she may come across as a bit neurotic, I wish she were my writing teacher.
This book is chock-full of quotable thoughts about writing. If you’ve never read anything by Lamott, this book is a good place to start!