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Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life | [Anne Lamott]

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

What does it take to be a writer? What does it mean to live a writer's life? This instruction book gives the answers to these questions, ranging through all aspects of writing - from faith, love, and grace to pain, jealousy, and fear.
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Publisher's Summary

What does it take to be a writer? What does it mean to live a writer's life? This instruction book gives the answers to these questions, ranging through all aspects of writing - from faith, love, and grace to pain, jealousy, and fear. Anne Lamott shows you how to keep your eyes oepn and write about what you see - and how to survive. This step-by-step guide covers getting started, character, plot, false starts, and more.

©1994 Anne Lamott; (P)1996 by The Audio Partners Publishing Corp.

What the Critics Say

"This humorous, insightful approach reminds us why we are writing: to tell the truth, to live from the heart, and to share that gift with others." (Kirkus Reviews)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (244 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Colin ReadingUnited Kingdom 04-26-07
    Colin ReadingUnited Kingdom 04-26-07
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
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    "Wonderfully honest and funny"

    When I first heard her reading style, I thought, "Oh no, this is going to be the audio equivalent of eating a box of chalk – dry, tasteless and really hard to get down". But, as it turned out, she's really funny in a monotone kind of way and has some useful, straight advice.
    I like her perspective on writing.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Erwin Jacksonville, FL, USA 12-01-03
    Erwin Jacksonville, FL, USA 12-01-03
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Bird by Bird flies well"

    Entertaining and filled with good advice

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robin Alpine, TX, United States 08-15-10
    Robin Alpine, TX, United States 08-15-10 Member Since 2010
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    "Just what the doctor (should have) ordered..."

    This book was like a warm embrace by a good friend; a rare friend, one who doesn't judge you because of the mistakes you've made, or make fun of you for the resentment you feel for other's good fortune. She's been there, too. This book changed my life, and not just because Anne made me understand that even the best of writers don't wake up with a book in their head, but because life is all about taking one step at a time. "Bird by bird" is the only way to dig out from under the weight of the world.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rebecca Burleson, TX, USA 05-10-09
    Rebecca Burleson, TX, USA 05-10-09
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    "A witty, useful listen for those who enjoy writing"

    I agree with the other reviewers that the audio quality of this audiobook is very poor, but the content makes the effort of listening well worth your while. I found what the author has to say so useful and clever that, after listening, I ordered a print copy so that I could read the unabridged version.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pam United States 04-14-13
    Pam United States 04-14-13 Member Since 2007

    Science writer in America's heartland

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "So-so"

    This book was strongly recommended to me by a very accomplished and talented creative nonfiction writer, but I didn't find it nearly as useful as she did. There are some good pieces of advice here, but nothing that I would call earth-shattering. Also, having the author as narrator is often a good thing for a book, but in this case, it isn't. I felt that her performance was somewhat wooden. I'd say the book was not bad, but not great, either.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jimmy Powell, OH, United States 04-13-12
    Jimmy Powell, OH, United States 04-13-12 Member Since 2010

    I am a young-executive with a voracious appetite for great stories. I read and listen constantly, and am very proud of my book collection.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A Candid Un-Filtered Look at One Writer's Process"

    Trying to find a straight forward book on writing that is both insightful and entertaining requires tremendous patience. Fortunately, Anne Lamott does not taker herself too seriously as she walks the reader through her process, and reassures the insecure that nobody has it easy in the wide world of writing for publication! She tells it like she sees it, and I am more and more convinced that she is speaking with absolute truth. I felt great relief and satisfaction as this book allowed me to get out of my own way in life and in my own struggles as a writer. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who wants an entertaining point of view on finding the strength to carryon in a creative lifestyle. If you think this book is going to give you a line by line illustration on how to craft a novel then you might be better off with "Writing for Dummies." No offense! She essentially takes you inside her head and helps create an expectation that first drafts always suck. The real trick is getting it on paper--the polishing will come.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer PARIS, TX, United States 06-28-13
    Amazon Customer PARIS, TX, United States 06-28-13 Member Since 2008
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    "Great for Writers and for the Soul"
    What made the experience of listening to Bird by Bird the most enjoyable?

    I had been experiencing writer's block for the FIRST TIME IN MY LIFE. My husband is shocked. A friend told me that Ann Lamott had some great writing books out there, so I checked this one out.

    And after I listened, I sat down and wrote what my heart had been telling me to write, while my head (or Mom's ghost, something like that) was telling me that I could not write THAT. Thank you Ann Lamott. Thanks for your irreverence and humor. Thanks for your realness. Thanks for admitting as a writer that there are issues of faith to be dealt with. Thanks for making me laugh in a really difficult week. Thanks for helping me write again.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dustin Minneapolis, MN, USA 03-05-13
    Dustin Minneapolis, MN, USA 03-05-13
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    "A great book for writers--unfortunately, abridged"
    What did you love best about Bird by Bird?

    This is one of my two favorite books of advice and encouragement for writers. The other is Natalie Goldberg's _Writing Down the Bones_. They, along with Strunk and White's _The Elements of Style_, which deals more with technical aspects of writing, have helped me understand what I,as a writer, want to accomplish. I highly recommend all three.

    I'd listen to the unabridged recording of _Writing Down the Bones_ (read by Goldberg) before the abridged version of _Bird by Bird_.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Bird by Bird?

    Lamott's assurance that loneliness, envy, grief, and hopelessness are normal--even healthy--for writers at work helped me continue with my project when I felt like giving up.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Derek MISSION VIEJO, CA, United States 11-23-12
    Derek MISSION VIEJO, CA, United States 11-23-12 Member Since 2010

    nakedderek

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    "Beyond Wonderful"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Bird by Bird to be better than the print version?

    The book is read by the author and her personality adds flare to the text.


    What other book might you compare Bird by Bird to and why?

    This book is unique. It speaks of the writing process rather than technical info.


    Have you listened to any of Anne Lamott’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    I will listen to more of her books. She's great!


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    Okay Buddy, Just Take It Bird By Bird


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kristina apopka, FL, United States 07-03-12
    Kristina apopka, FL, United States 07-03-12

    (Tina)

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    "Uninspired"

    As a writer, I was looking for a little inspiration. I picked the wrong book. I should have heeded the other reviews when they said that the performance was off putting. It isn't so much that her voice is monotone, but that it has a depressed downbeat. I could have gotten past her voice if the content was more inspiring. However, halfway into the book she is still describing writing as a tortured process of wringing the words out of her head and then having to rewrite it all again because (in her lovely words) the whole first draft is always going to be s--t. I know that writing can be hard, but I also know that it can be enjoyable. Where can I find a book about the joy of writing? Not here.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
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