Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott | Inkwells & Images

Story in Review: Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott | Inkwells & Images

Drop whatever you are doing and go read this book right now.

I’m actually serious, unless you are driving, in which case you should stop reading this right now, come to a complete stop at your local bookstore, and then purchase and read this book.

I’ve heard this book tossed around in creative circles I cannot count how many times, kind of like The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. And it is definitely worth a read. I might have built it up to be the end-all, cure-all to any and every writing problem that I have, which it is not, but the book definitely made me think about plot and structure and characters in a different light. Not to mention that Anne Lamott can somehow wrap spirituality, politics, and writing advice into the same eloquent sentence and leave you laughing at the end. She is a masterful writer.

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott is subtitled “Some Instructions on Writing and Life.” And it is. It’s a short primer on how to make a good story out of a story worth telling. At the same time, it teaches writers to live lives worth writing about, and to use their writing for the benefit of those around them – that’s where writing’s purpose really shines for Lamott. I have to agree.

There are several passages where Lamott reminds us why we aspire to write in the first place: a love of books.

Favorite Quotes:

“One of the gifts of being a writer is that it gives you the excuse to do things, to go places and explore.” – p. xii

“Because 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.” – p. 15

“Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts.” – p. 25

“One line of dialogue that rings true reveals character in a way that pages of description can’t.” – p. 47

“We all know we’re going to die; what’s important is the kind of men and women we are in the face of this.” – p. 51

“There must be movement.” – p. 59

“…that is the nature of most good writing: that you find out things as you go along.” – p. 71

“Writing is about learning to pay attention and to communicate what is going on.” – p. 97

“Write toward vulnerability.” – p. 226

“Writing and reading decrease our sense of isolation. They depend and widen and expand our sense of life: they feed the soul.” – p. 237

Should you read it? If you love the written word, yes.

Have you read Bird by Bird before? If so, what did you think? Are there any other books on writing you would suggest I tackle?

Published by

Abbigail Kriebs

Inkwells & Images, LLC is the result of years of writing in secret, more than a decade of obsessively photographing everyone and everything around me, two college degrees, and the ultimate realization that working in corporate America is not as glamorous as they make it out to be in all the late-90s movies. This website will be a space where I showcase my photography and writing. This blog will a space where I explore life. Being a small business owner. What it means to be a writer. What I learn as I become a better photographer.

8 thoughts on “Story in Review: Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott”

  1. This book (and pretty much everything by Anne Lamott) is so wonderful. My mom and I were actually just emailing tonight about how we want to be her friends. I still tell myself “Butt in chair” for so many things, but especially for writing.

    1. Yes! “Butt in chair” is a mantra over here as well… even before I read Bird by Bird! I love how honest she is… about life, publishing, writing. It was really refreshing to hear the truth.

  2. i adore anne lamott’s words. adore.

    but my favorite from bird by bird is the way that she talks about silencing doubts by picking them up like they’re small mouses and drop them in mason jars… after screwing on the lid really tight, you can just watch them move about and be inspired. i do this regularly, just imagine that picking up and locking away, and SO GOOD.

    1. I haven’t tried this yet, Amber – but I’m sure I will need to as I finish the rough draft of this first novel. I am happy to know that it works for you! Gives me more faith that it will work for me, too.

  3. Yes I’ve read it. A couple of times. One of those thick lttlie skinny books that surprise you when you least expect it. It’s not so much a book that teaches you how to write so much as it is a book that really, really GETS you in the mood to write. You read this book and you want to leap up, sing Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah in a minor key with the words reverse, rip off your clothing and throw yourself at the keyboard to make mad passionate love to your vocabulary.Things I learned from Anne Lamott?Patience and playfulness.

    1. Bianka! This is the best description of this book, ever! And now I need to go listen to some Cohen…

      Thanks for stopping by! And for taking the time to comment. Any other writing books you would recommend?

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