Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird is a modern classic that has sparked creative minds for a quarter of a century. A must-have for aspiring writers.

“Even as a professional writer with years of experience, there are plenty of valuable lessons to pick up from this book. I think it is one of the most influential books on writing ever published. Any time, any day, I would recommend this book to anyone who wishes to improve vastly on their writing skill, attitude and beliefs.” – ROBERT LEE

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Bird by Bird Book Description

For more than two decades, Anne Lamott inspired aspiring and professional writers of all ages and skill levels with her humorous, gracious, homey advice. In Bird by Bird, she passes on – among others – simple words of wisdom from her father in the iconic passage that gave the book its title.

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, which 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.”

This book not only serves as an invaluable guide to creative writing. It also teaches you how to manage your life as a writer. Aside from getting started, Lamott also takes you through several key topics, including:

    • Short assignments
    • Shitty first drafts
    • Perfectionism
    • Character
    • Plot
    • Dialogue
    • Set design
    • False starts
    • Plot treatment

Furthermore, Lamott also discusses the writing frame of mind, getting help, writer groups, writer’s block, publishing, and so much more.

What does it take to be a writer? Moreover, what does it mean to be a writer? Lamott answers these questions, and then more.

Bird by Bird Editorial Reviews

“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.” – Publishers Weekly

“Superb writing advice… Hilarious, helpful, and provocative.” – The New York Times Book Review

“A warm, generous, and hilarious guide through the writer’s world and its treacherous swamps.” – Los Angeles Times

“One of the funniest books on writing ever published.” – The Christian Science Monitor

“A gift to all of us mortals who write or ever wanted to write… Sidesplittingly funny, patiently wise and alternately cranky and kind – a reveille to get off our duffs and start writing now, while we still can.” – Seattle Times

“Bird by Bird would be worth reading just for Lamott’s elegant, moving, and often hilarious prose. But the advice she offers is just as fantastic as the style with which it’s delivered.” – Forbes

“Anne Lamott understands better than anyone that writers need help… She writes so well, in fact, that it’s hard to believe that she, too, has trouble with writing. That’s what’s so deeply comforting about this book.” – The Wall Street Journal

“Deftly and honestly explores the mental challenges of being a writer… Lamott’s advice is, simply put, invaluable.” – Bustle

“[Lamott] uses her writing exercises or lessons as a way to help us more deeply understand ourselves and the human condition in all its messiness. If you’re looking for sense-making and meaning during this deeply destabilizing time, this book is timeless.” – Elise Hu, TED Talks Daily

“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.” – Kirkus Reviews

“Offers unique inspiration… An honest appraisal of what it takes to be a writer and why it matters so much.” – Library Journal

About Anne Lamott

Anne Lamott is the New York Times bestselling author of:

    • Help, Thanks, Wow
    • Small Victories
    • Stitches
    • Some Assembly Required
    • Grace (Eventually)
    • Plan B
    • Traveling Mercies
    • Bird by Bird
    • Operating Instructions
    • Hallelujah Anyway

She is also the author of several novels, including:

    • Imperfect Birds
    • Rosie

Anne is a past recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship. She was also an inductee to the California Hall of Fame.