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Bird by Bird: Instructions on Writing and Life Paperback – 1 Jan 1980

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Product details

  • Paperback: 239 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group; Anchor Books ed edition (1 Jan. 1980)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385480016
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385480017
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 1.5 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (83 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,301 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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The very first thing I tell my new students on the first day of a workshop is that good writing is about telling the truth. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

40 of 42 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 7 Feb. 1999
Format: Paperback
When writing my first book, I hit an all too familiar wall which was a lifetime of writer's block that had paralyzed me many times before. A friend recommended I read Bird By Bird. I did, and through reading Ann's words, with all her wisdom and practical advice, a door to my inner voice opened up and the book flowed. Not only did I complete the book (on deadline!) and get it published, but people tell me the book reads like a novel, with the sound of my voice warm, clear and engaging throughout. This is the greatest reward ---a non-fiction book that came from my soul and that people can connect with. (ORGANIZING FROM THE INSIDE OUT, 1998) Thank you, Ann LaMott, and thank you Bird by Bird. I highly recommend this book to anyone who struggles with writing.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 4 Aug. 1998
Format: Paperback
I picked this book up after hearing an audiotape of Anne Lamott talking about creativity and writing. I am not a writer or writter wannabe; I just liked her story telling. In reading "Bird by Bird," I discovered the same entertaining, laugh-out-loud story telling, used to teach her own particular brand of "how to write." It also became clear to me that the principles and techniques she was presenting are universal - they apply not only to writing, but to any pursuit or activity in life. The book is, in fact, a guide to living (intended? unintended? who knows, and who cares...). So whether you're looking for specific techniques for writing (in particular, fiction), looking for an entertaining read, or want to have your thinking provoked, I highly recommend "Bird by Bird." (Incidentally, as a result of reading the book, I was inspired to do some recreational writing...)
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 18 Jun. 1997
Format: Paperback
Reading Anne Lamott is like sitting
down with a close friend who shares all of your idiosyncracies and insanities, as well as
your warped sense of humor. Bird by Bird gives Lamott's view of the writing life and
confronts all of the little details and major crises faced by anyone who's ever wanted to
write. Filled with warm and witty anecdotes from her own writing career and from the
classes she teaches, Lamott takes you gently by the hand and then proceeds to push, pull,
or drag you to the pencil or the keyboard because you suddenly feel that you have to write
something, right now! This is a book to keep next to the bed or the computer,
or wherever else you're likely to be when you need a nudge to keep going and a major
dose of inspiration. Read this book with a highlighter grasped tightly in your sweaty palm,
because you're going to want to come back to certain lines over and over again. Highly
recommended.
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175 of 199 people found the following review helpful By S. Bailey VINE VOICE on 14 Nov. 2005
Format: Paperback
I bought this because I was writing a novel in a month with Nanowrimo, and so many people on the forums recommended it. People who write novels in a month ought to know an inspirational book when they see it, I thought. Wrong, wrong, wrong...

The subtitle, "Some Instructions on Writing and Life", ought to have been a warning. But I was overwhelmed by delight in the title itself: Lamott's young brother had, in a single evening, to complete a school project on birds which he should have been writing over the previous three months. "Just take it bird by bird, buddy," was the sensible advice offered by their father.

Lamott herself, however, takes a different line: "just do it my way, buddy". She (presumably; like so many people who write books about how to write novels, I've never even seen one of her novels in a book shop) writes character-driven novels. Therefore, so should we all: don't worry about plot, or settings or anything else, just let your characters do their thing. This is doubtless very good advice for those who also write character-driven fiction, but if you're like me, and begin with a plot and then wonder what sort of people would get into such a ridiculous situation, Ms Lamott is not going to help you much.

I could have dealt with the book and found some useful insights in it were it not for the second problem: "... and Life". Lamott believes in God. Very much. There is far too much stuff here about what God wants for each of us and what each of us wants from God, for this to work for me, or anyone else who doesn't not share or wish to share Lamott's faith. If I wanted a book about fluffy Christianity, I would not have bought a writing book.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Mrs. S. King on 4 Dec. 2007
Format: Paperback
This is a lovely book written by someone who obviously 'gets' and adores writing.
I too am always at switch off point when God is mentioned but he is here in a 'and my Mum says' type way.....never forced into the readers face.
This woman is someone you'd meet in starbucks and you'd get talking to her and then inspired by her thoughts on writing.....lovely
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jeff P on 1 Feb. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Recommended! I can't think of another book that describes the ups and downs of the writing process as clearly and honestly as this. OK, Anne Lamott can sound sceptical to the point of bleakness, her references are mostly American and were often lost on me, she refers to her own drinking (and other human failings!) with glaring honesty and humour, there's some 'god stuff' in there and some of her stories take a while to get to the point. But, well, we speak the same language (more or less) and share the same cultural references. When she started with: 'the very first thing I tell my new students on the first day of a workshop is that good writing is about telling the truth' I was hooked. There are sections on 'Giving', on 'Jealousy' and on 'Writer's Block' and it's a pleasure to see these subjects discussed properly (I almost said 'seriously'. That's not quite it. They are taken very seriously, but written in a way that makes them memorable and funny. The images are wild and witty. There's a lot of self-mockery). Of course not everyone will like this book. Not everyone wants to hear that, in the final analysis, the real joy of writing is there in the writing itself. But that's a more valuable and longer-lasting lesson than you'll get in many a how-to book. But two copies - one for yourself and one to give to your writing friends.
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