Author: Anne Lamott
First Published: 1994
Page Count: 237
Film/ TV Adaptation: No
Rating: 4/5 Stars
With silly and heartfelt anecdotes as well as solid writing advice, Anne Lamott offers writers a reference for the daunting task of transforming their stories into written words.
*Motivational *Relatable narrator
*Not very technical
“What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you.” Writing, whether your good at it or not, is a universally difficult process. Anne Lamott seeks to dispel the myths that surround the writing process and give advice to help keep the dejected writer from turning away from their work in her informative book. With funny personal stories and quotes from fellow authors, Anne shares her experiences as a published author to expose aspiring author’s to the real world of writing.
About two years ago I had revealed to a friend that I had started writing while we were in my favorite recycled bookstore. As if it were fated, she pulled Bird by Bird from a shelf and said, “then you need to read this.” Since then, this book has managed to pop up again and again as the must read for those of us that have taken the plunge into the world of writing. I’m in edit mode for a story I’ve written at the moment (don’t hold you’re breath on whenever that will be done) and I figured it was finally time to see what Lamott had to say. The book and its narration made me feel like Lamott was one of those college professors you never forget about and her book was the English class I couldn’t wait to sit in on. She was more motivational and inspirational in this light, and just like everyone had been saying, I felt instantly revitalized in my desire to get this story I have in my mind down on paper.
I think one thing that did dampen my enjoyment of this book was that I had heard so many good things about it and I had the impression that of all books on writing, this was the holy grail, the answer to all questions. Clearly I was ignoring the squeaky, annoying voice in the back of my mind that was reminding me that there is no button, magical quill, or problem-solving pill that will write your work for you; to think that a book might also possess these mythical qualities was my mistake and wishful thinking. I enjoyed hearing about Lamott’s personal experiences which made the book relatable and an interesting look at one writer’s experience with writing, but it wasn’t as technical as I imagined it would be. The book glazes over things like characters, plot, and editing, and if you’re looking for a more in-depth look at those processes or aspects of writing, I’d look for other books to reinforce what you’ve read in Bird by Bird.
After closing the book, I want to run to my laptop and type until my fingers fall off thanks to all of this encouragement Lamott has built up in me. It definitely is worth reading this book if you’re a writer, especially if you’re at a writer’s block or a bump in the road. If you’re not a writer, I’m not sure this book would have much to offer other than some interesting stories about someone’s journey in their career. A writer’s block or anything that makes you question your work can be immobilizing and depressing, but a quick read of Lamott’s Bird by Bird might just be the pick me up you need to get back at it.