Bird By Bird For Writers

Saturday, November 01, 2008 0 Comments A+ a-



I can't remember where I found this book, but boy am I glad I did. I decided to start it last night on a whim and I thought it'd be fitting as a great inspirational book throughout NaNoWriMo. I got to about the third chapter or so and already I can highly recommend this book. Author Anne Lamott opens with a preface that presents how she got into writing. She talks about her childhood and her father, who was a writer, and what it was like growing up in Northern Cali when she was a child. There are some great passages in this chapter alone before she dives into the opening chapters that focus solely on writing. Lamott's words are real and peppered with humor as if she were sharing her story with a close friend or one of her students. I love that she tells the truth about the publishing industry and how it is the importance of writing that truly matters. I highly recommend this book to all writers whether seasoned or veteran especially if you find yourself dredging along a current draft.

Although there are many many quotables in the text, a few stood out to me and already the pages are littered with yellow post-its. Some goodies:

Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere. Start by getting something--anything--down on paper. A friend of mine says that the first draft is the down draft--you just get it down. The second draft is the up draft--you fix it up. You try to say what you have to say more accurately. And the third draft is the dental draft, where you check every tooth, to see if it's loose or cramped or decayed, or even, help us, healthy."


"E.L. Doctorow once said that "writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights but you can make the whole trip that way. You don't have to see where you're going, you don't have to see your destination or everything you will everything you will pass along the way. You just have to see two or three feet ahead of you. This is right up there with the best advice about writing, or life, I have ever heard."


And my personal favorite:

"...I still encourage anyone who feels at all compelled to write to do so. I just try to warn people who hope to get published that publication is not all that is cracked up to be. But writing is. Writing has so much to give, so much to teach, so many surprises. That thing you had to force yourself to do--the actual act of writing--turns out to be the best part. It's like discovering that while you thought you needed the tea ceremony for the caffeine, what you really needed was the tea ceremony. The act of writing turns out to be its own reward."

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott is available now in print.