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Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life [Kindle Edition]

Anne Lamott
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (82 customer reviews)

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Book Description

"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.'"

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1154 KB
  • Print Length: 274 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0385480016
  • Publisher: Anchor; 1 edition (18 Dec. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000SEGI8Q
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • : Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (82 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,582,745 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
39 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Got Me Past Writer's Block to Publication 7 Feb. 1999
By A Customer
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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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
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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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ever Meet Someone As Crazy As Yourself?

18 Jun. 1997

By A Customer
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
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174 of 198 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars If only she'd stick to writing about writing... 14 Nov. 2005
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
5.0 out of 5 stars really great and funny book 4 Dec. 2007
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
5.0 out of 5 stars sometimes painful - but always true 1 Feb. 2014
By Jeff P
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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Great book if u want to learn on writing too ...
Great book if u want to learn on writing too - 3 stars because I couldn't get my head around it but few of my friends rate it to over 5 stars
Published 1 month ago by Amine BEN
5.0 out of 5 stars Witty, wise and hilariously honest.
Witty, wise and hilariously honest. My new favourite writing book, although as much if not more about the writer's life and publication as writing itself. Wonderful.
Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book for writers
I've found this book to be incredibly helpful whenever I'm struggling to put pen to paper - if nothing else, it reminds me to keep a sense of humour and perspective! Read more
Published 2 months ago by JenwiseGamgee
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Fantastic. Inspiring, reassuring, funny and poignant.
Published 3 months ago by H. Murray
5.0 out of 5 stars Help with Writing
A wonderful book about writing. Encouraging and full of useful advice.
Published 4 months ago by Rachel
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
My wide enjoyed this book
Published 4 months ago by Mr M.A.Gisbourne
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun, witty and helpful
I've read so many books on writing, where getting past the first chapter has proved a memorable milestone in itself. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Paul Power
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Witty and insightful musings.
Published 6 months ago by Sam
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Funny, honest and inspiring - a book I shall keep and re-read.
Published 7 months ago by Revd Jenny Hill
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
a lovely reading pleasure
Published 8 months ago by MissB
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