What I’m Reading: Bird By Bird by Anne Lamott

What the book is about: 

I’d consider this to be a sister book to Sometimes the Magic Works. It’s certainly in that same realm; advice about writing and life how sometimes, the two of them converge.

What I liked: 

  • Short chapters – With kids running around and interrupting me all the time, it was nice to only have to read a few pages to finish up a chapter.
  • Information galore – It seriously felt like every chapter was packed with some kind of good information that I could take away. If I was more of a note-taker, I’m sure I’d have nearly a notebook full of good tips that I could incorporate into many areas of my life.
  • Personal anecdotes – if you can handle the over-the-top neuroticism, the anecdotes are hilarious.
  • Personable – I feel like I know her a little bit, even though obviously I don’t. Her personality shone through.

What I didn’t like: 

  • How close to neurotic I am myself – Clearly I’m not the well-balanced person I always like to think I am, but I’m not quite as far. I saw, not always pleased, how neurotic I can get sometimes. And obviously, this is a personal issue. Ha!
  • Sometimes a bit jumpy – There were times it felt disjointed and jumpy – something a bit more linear might have been nice, but it wasn’t really a deal breaker. It is still relevant all these years later, even though publishing has changed dramatically.

Overall thoughts and opinions: 

For anyone who wishes to be a writer or to be published, I would actually consider this to be a MUST-READ book. She deals beautifully with the issue of wanting to be published and how publication doesn’t actually fix anything, but sometimes, makes life worse.

I also really enjoyed her deep, deep humanity – writing out those deep, dark thoughts we all have but never say. Personally, I found those tiny quips to be hysterical.

This book, even though like I said above, is fairly old, I find most of the content to be very, very evergreen. It’s not so much a book about writing and how to be published as it is an exploration of life while one writes. She deals with the uncomfortable hardship, the crazy notion that finally reaching that ultimate goal will fix everything, and how to work past writers block. In many chapters, she deals with writers block.

I find myself very connected to her way of writing, and that helped me to feel connected to the book, whereas in Sometimes the Magic Works, I know I don’t work in the same way Terry Brooks does, therefore, his advice sat looser with me. I connected on a deeper level with Bird by Bird and found her suggestions and commentary to be very useful.

I highly recommend this book to anyone pursuing the path of writing.

Learn more about the book and others by Anne Lamott. 


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