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Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

de Anne Lamott

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MembresRessenyesPopularitatValoració mitjanaMencions
9,436225701 (4.15)268
The author of five books, including the novels Hard Laughter, Rosie and Joe Jones, offers an "inspiring book about writing as a way of finding truth" (San Francisco Chronicle). "A reveille to get off our duffs and start writing now, while we still can".--Seattle Times. "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.'"… (més)
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» Mira també 268 mencions

Es mostren 1-5 de 224 (següent | mostra-les totes)
Several reviews of this book said it was as much about life as about writing. They were wrong: it's about writing. I'm not a writer, so I didn't enjoy it as much as a writer probably would. However, I AM a reader, and this will give me some insight into how writers create what they do and help me understand what's gone wrong when they fall short. Interesting from that point of view. ( )
  JudyGibson | Jan 26, 2023 |
Bird by Bird started off really well for me. The language Anne uses is engaging and descriptive. She uses narrative to teach and her stories made me want to keep reading. I was thoroughly enjoying the book at first, and appreciated some of the golden nuggets scattered throughout.

One of the passages I especially loved was this:

“…for some of us, books are as important as almost anything else on earth. 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. Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and die. They are full of all the things that you don’t get in real life - wonderful, lyrical language, for instance, right off the bat. And quality of attention: we may notice amazing details during the course of a day but we rarely let ourselves stop and really pay attention. An author makes you notice, makes you pay attention, and this is a great gift. My gratitude for good writing is unbounded; I’m grateful for it the way I’m grateful for the ocean.”

Later, though, it started to feel more muddy and I started feeling like I was having to slog through it. It lost some interest for me and started to sound more jaded and troubled. I found myself feeling like I had to force myself to keep reading. Though I did finish it, I will admit that I read through the last chapters more hurriedly than I had the first ones.

I routinely take a star off of my ratings for the presence of strong language in books (it's just not my thing), so do note that without that, my rating for this book would have been 3 stars. ( )
  erindarlyn | Jan 21, 2023 |
It wasn’t bad, but it is very overhyped. I went in expecting it to change me as a writer and I don’t think I got much out of it (which could be because I’ve had amazing writing teachers in the past so a lot of it was stuff I’ve heard before). Idk. ( )
  ninagl | Jan 7, 2023 |
Really enjoyed this book and it’s full of wise advice and great insight. If you are struggling with being a writer, this book should help rekindle your love for writing. ( )
  thewestwing | Aug 12, 2022 |
Summary: Anne Lamott’s advice to her writing students, basically, “almost every single thing I know about writing.”

Anne Lamott grew up around a father who wrote. She learned, along with prisoners he taught, to put a little down on a piece of paper every day, and to read lots of great books and plays and that we all have a lot in us to share. She started doing this as a schoolgirl and never stopped. Her second grade teacher read a poem she wrote about John Glenn and she won an award. She’d sit with her dad and write poems. Eventually she learned that she was good at stories and funny. She wrote sophomoric material as a sophomore but she heeded her dad’s counsel: “Do it every day for a while. Do it as you would do scales on a piano. Do it by prearrangement with yourself. Do it as a debt of honor. And make a commitment to finishing things.” It might be that this is some of the best writing advice in a book chock full of Lamott’s earthy, practical, and funny advice.

Basically, according to Lamott, if you want to be a writer, you need to write. In the first part, she talks about basic steps to getting started. If nothing else, write about your childhood–everything you can remember and sit down and do it at the same time every day–struggling with the voices that say you can’t do this. One of her exercises is to write about school lunches–we’ve all got those memories. It’s not time yet to think about agents and publishing. It’s time to work on writing. She advises starting with short assignments, what you can see through a “one inch picture frame.” This is where “bird by bird” comes from. When her brother was stymied by a report on birds, her father told him, “Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.” She also advises writing without reining yourself in, which means “shitty first drafts” (a phrase that recurs more than a few times–Lamott’s way of keeping it real). Perfectionism is the enemy, like a muscle cramp that keeps us from moving freely.

For writing fiction, she advises getting to know your characters and the plot will emerge. Avoid plot devices and shortcuts that lose your reader’s trust. Write dialogue by which your characters are recognizable and realize that writing dialect is hard writing and hard on readers. She describes the moment she broke down when her editor told her her book didn’t work, and the meeting the next day where she made the case for her book, told him all the stuff she’d forgotten to put down, the thoughts she had about how she could solve the problems in the plot. He said “thank you” and asked her to write that book, beginning with a chapter by chapter plot treatment of what she had just told him. It became her greatest novel. And she talks about knowing when you are done.

She talks about the writing frame of mind–attentiveness, understanding the moral point of view of a piece, learning to rely on intuition, and learning to breathe and align ourselves with the work rather than listening to the station in our heads–KFKD. She offers tips of things along the way, from carrying index cards to scribble down things we may need in a story–a line of dialogue, a memory recalled, a simple occurrence in the grocery story–calling around to find someone who knows what the wire thing on top of a champaign bottle is called, finding writing groups and those who read your drafts. For writing block, she suggests just trying to write one page of anything–even those childhood memories–and wait. She wraps up the book talking about publication, and what she calls “her last class” which not only has some funny advice about avoiding libel but a wonderful description of the pleasures of the writing life.

Lamott, as in all her books can be funny, profane, transcendent, and serious, sometimes within the space of a few sentences. Some of the most moving passages are those where she talks about her friend Pam, who died of cancer, and what Pam taught her about life and writing. She gives us a sense of that mysterious drive to write, because we can’t not write, the hard work and the great joys of writing. One also has the sense as you read Lamott, that writing opens one up to something bigger, the grandeur and tragedy, the serious and silly things, the morality and meaning of a life well-lived, and how we all fall short of it. And it all starts with short assignments, shitty first drafts, and bird by bird. ( )
  BobonBooks | Aug 10, 2022 |
Es mostren 1-5 de 224 (següent | mostra-les totes)
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.
afegit per ArrowStead | editaSeattle Times
 
Superb writing advice...hilarious, helpful and provocative.
afegit per ArrowStead | editaNew York Times Book Review
 
A warm, generous, and hilarious guide through the writer's world and its treacherous swamps.
afegit per ArrowStead | editaLos Angeles Times
 

» Afegeix-hi altres autors (15 possibles)

Nom de l'autorCàrrecTipus d'autorObra?Estat
Anne Lamottautor primaritotes les edicionscalculat
Bennett, SusanNarradorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
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Si et cal més ajuda, mira la pàgina d'ajuda del coneixement compartit.
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I grew up around a father and a mother who read every chance they got, who took us to the library every Thursday night to load up on books for the coming week.
Citacions
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…getting all of one’s addictions under control is a little like putting an octopus to bed.
...perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor.
I understood immediately the thrill of seeing oneself in print. It provides some sort of primal verifications. You are; therefore you exist.
If you find that you start a number of stories or pieces that you don't even bother finishing, that you lose interest or faith in them along the way, it may be that there is nothing at their center about which you care passionately.
…if you are writing the clearest, truest words you can find and doing the best you can to understand and communicate, this will shine on paper like its own little lighthouse.”
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(Clica-hi per mostrar-ho. Compte: pot anticipar-te quin és el desenllaç de l'obra.)
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Referències a aquesta obra en fonts externes.

Wikipedia en anglès

Cap

The author of five books, including the novels Hard Laughter, Rosie and Joe Jones, offers an "inspiring book about writing as a way of finding truth" (San Francisco Chronicle). "A reveille to get off our duffs and start writing now, while we still can".--Seattle Times. "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.'"

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