NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • An essential volume for generations of writers young and old. The twenty-fifth anniversary edition of this modern classic will continue to spark creative minds for years to come. Anne Lamott is "a warm, generous, and hilarious guide through the writer’s world and its treacherous swamps" (Los Angeles Times).
“Superb writing advice…. Hilarious, helpful, and provocative.” —The New York Times Book Review
For a quarter century, more than a million readers—scribes and scribblers of all ages and abilities—have been inspired by Anne Lamott’s hilarious, big-hearted, homespun advice. Advice that begins with the simple words of wisdom passed down from Anne’s father—also a writer—in the iconic passage that gives 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. 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.’”
Lamott's ( Operating Instructions ) miscellany of guidance and reflection should appeal to writers struggling with demons large and slight. Among the pearls she offers is to start small, as their father once advised her 10-year-old brother, who was agonizing over a book report on birds: ``Just take it bird by bird.'' Lamott's suggestion on the craft of fiction is down-to-earth: worry about the characters, not the plot. But she's even better on psychological questions. She has learned that writing is more rewarding than publication, but that even writing's rewards may not lead to contentment. As a former ``Leona Helmsley of jealousy,'' she's come to will herself past pettiness and to fight writer's block by living ``as if I am dying.'' She counsels writers to form support groups and wisely observes that, even if your audience is small, ``to have written your version is an honorable thing.''
THANKS , I NEEDED that!
Yes, I take myself too seriously. Nearly daily I am severely wounded by humiliations, oversights and requests so demeaning my work days feel like a slow, numbing painful death by a thousand cuts.
For the last few days, I have guiltily snuck my iPad out during my lunch hour and buried my face into the world of Anne Lamott.
It has been a tonic — a terrific, uplifting, reviving experience. She is so transparent and THERE, these lunch meetings feel as if I've been dining with a dear friend.
I definitely feel better... and, oh yeah - I"m writing again too. Not out of vengeance (quite yet) but out of a sense of survival. (I feel a sly smile twisting up the corners of my mouth - this tells me the vengeance is coming...)
Feeling insecure? Read this. Feeling stuck? Read this. Not feeling anything.... Definitely read this. It may even remind you how to chuckle. (It may even cause you to blast iced tea out your nose and feel triumphant about it.) I am giving away copies like a zealot.
For all creatives- a fabulous rule book
As a fellow creative (artist), I found this book spot on as to why we spend our days alone in a room trying to connect with the rest of the world. So brilliantly funny and helpful and very entertaining.
Bird by Bird and Why to Fly
I’ve written for years about what I thought would be important to me. Songs, poems, short stories, and essays of all types... but when I read this book, Anne gave me, and thus my writing, an identity that I could stand by and be proud of, albeit if only in my mind. She codifies purpose in a writers heart, mind, and soul through a brilliant my tapestry of deeply woven ideas.