Katsuya, December 27, 2012 (view all comments by Katsuya)
After so many books about how fun and easy writing can be, it's great to have a book that shows how painful and difficult it really is. Lamott puts a premium on discipline, the discipline of writing every day at a set time and trying hard to get the first draft out, no matter how bad it may be. This message may not be news to most, but along with the added info that neurosis and writing go hand in hand, Lamott is not here to inform, she's here to encourage. She's a real teacher, someone who isn't just trying to show you how to get to where you're going, but also to help you restart if you've missed a step. She's also very funny and a good writer to boot so the book was an absolute pleasure to read. Pick it up when you're feeling down
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Kelly L, August 5, 2012 (view all comments by Kelly L)
Instead of paying for an MFA or a writing degree, read Anne Lamott's priceless book. She gives some of the best and liveliest advice on how to write and how to live. It's a book worth reading every year.
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Thomas Chandler, October 22, 2011 (view all comments by Thomas Chandler)
More inspirational that instructional, Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird is a witty, entertaining look at her life as a writer, and while I would warn other writers against blindly emulating any writer's process, there's certainly plenty here worth stealing.
Most interesting is her approach to teaching the craft; if you're writing for money, fame, approval or other forms of validation, Lamott suggests you're probably already in trouble.
In one sense, she's probably right; writing is a tough way to make a living unless something in the writing process feeds you (the writing world is filled with people more interested in the lifestyle than the work itself, and for them, Lamott's book should serve as a wakeup call).
Most of her specific advice isn't exactly new (notice things, take notes, use what you know in your stories, your first draft probably bites), yet when told in the context of her career, her advice is compelling -- especially to those without fully formed reasons for entering the business.
Don't expect bullet points or any of that comically oversimplified "1. Write Book; 2. Get Agent..." crap. Lamott's all about writing for the sake of writing, and this book focuses on her processes -- including a chapter on dealing with jealousy.
That's not exactly normal "how to" fare, but at the very least -- to a writer with plenty of experience in copywriting but little in Lamott's part of the writing universe -- it's amusing stuff.
A few lucky writers find the resources they need at critical parts of their career (I stumbled on Ogilvy On Advertising when I was starting to wonder about making a living in the advertising world), and given the kind of grounded, real-world inspiration it offers, I think "Bird by Bird" should probably be handed to every college student captured by the thought of arranging words for a living.
Lamott's a witty and revealing writer, and though I'm not a memoirist or fiction writer, it's hard not to be inspired by this book.
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nanababy5, June 28, 2011 (view all comments by nanababy5)
With wry humor Anne Lamott dismantles the misconceptions about the writing life, sharing with piercing honesty her own creative journey. This is not the typical How To book on writing; it is part biography, and at times has the intimate feel of a memoir.
Reading this book, I could easily imagine Anne seated across my kitchen table with a mug of coffee or tea, and the spontaneous bouts of humor which would burst forth from both of us as we shared our writing debacles and mishaps.
It takes courage to write with such transparency, and this Annie does to perfection. If I could own only one book on writing, this is it. Bird by Bird will satisfy any natural born writer whose passion for the written word outshines the tedium of ordinary life.
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by Publishers Weekly,
"Lamott's miscellany of guidance and reflection should appeal to writers struggling with demons large and slight....Lamott's suggestion on the craft of fiction is down-to-earth: worry about the characters, not the plot."
by Kirkus Reviews,
"Paragraph by paragraph, this humorous, insightful, no-nonsense approach will remind novices why they are writing: to tell the truth, to live from the heart, and to share their gift with others. A writer's guide that is bound to teach and inspire by example."
by Library Journal,
"An honest appraisal of what it takes to be a writer and why it matters so much."
by New York Times Book Review,
"Superb writing advice... hilarious, helpful and provocative."
by Los Angeles Times,
"A warm, generous and hilarious guide through the writer's world and its treacherous swamps."
by Seattle Times,
"A gift to all of us mortals who write or ever wanted to write...[S]idesplittingly funny, patiently wise and alternately cranky and kind — a reveille to get off our duffs and start writing now, while we still can."
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