Bird by Bird

Bird by Bird

Some Instructions on Writing and Life

Book - 1995
Average Rating:
Rate this:
The author of five books, including the novels Hard Laughter, Rosie and Joe Jones, offers an "inspiring book about writing as a way of finding truth" (San Francisco Chronicle). "A reveille to get off our duffs and start writing now, while we still can".--Seattle Times. "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.'"
Publisher: New York : Anchor Books, 1995
Edition: First Anchor Books edition
ISBN: 9780385480017
Branch Call Number: 808.02 L193B 1995
Characteristics: xxxi, 238 pages ; 21 cm


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Sep 15, 2019

If you are looking for a detailed guide on theme, developing character, structure, etc, that can guide you step-by-step through the writing process, this is not the book for that. It is, however, a great book to read if you find yourself lacking the motivation to get writing. I kept having to put the book down every 10 pages because I was suddenly, unexpectedly, feeling the desire to write. Anne clearly loves writing, and teaching about writing, and her love for it is contagious. She helps assuage your fears and reassure you that yes, it's hard, but yes, it's worth doing (even when it feels like you suck at writing). I loved it!

May 28, 2019

The book depicts what it's like to be a writer from both a writer's and a writing teacher's perspectives. It's like she's speaking to you directly to tell you personal stories all about writing as a friend or a mentor.

The author says it's tough to be a writer, but it's meaningful as writing is an act of trying to figure out what life is and living it to the fullest every single moment. I love this book; I learned a lot not only about writing but also life.

Mar 17, 2019

I really loved going to my college class and reading this book. It has a soul, a warmth. It's not a textbook! Whoo hoo! But this book was really good, I was working at a fast food restaurant at the time I read this book, and I had a coworker who was in his twenties who hadn't gone to college yet but really wanted to be a writer. It was really great to be able to give him my copy of this book, I hope it's helped him a lot. But it impressed both us. I'd recommend it, though she's also very transparent that she is not the pinnacle of human morality of what to with your life, so keep in mind that she's human, and writing is also pretty vulnerable and human. Thanks for reading.

Nov 15, 2017

How often did I invoke Anne Lamont while coaching my daughter through the process of writing her college application essay? Every time we sat down. Writing is hard. Writing is work. It doesn't come easy. It gets better with practice. Some of your writing will be garbage and is best thrown away. But it is while writing the garbage that some gems appear you can keep for another day. For the humor, the life lessons and the joy, I recommend this book.

May 31, 2017

Best book on he writing process ever written.

britprincess1ajax Mar 28, 2017

I've never read a writing guide quite like this one. Most writing guides are specific about the steps of writing -- you know, research, the first draft, revision, the second draft, and so on and so forth -- with the unspoken goal of publication looming in the foggy distance. That's why it was so refreshing to read Lamott’s BIRD BY BIRD, which is a brutally honest and immensely funny look at the truth about writing. She offers real, helpful advice, not all that crap you've heard before that never helped. She says a word about how publication is not all it's cracked up to be and tells you how to avoid libel. She writes in an anecdotal way that makes you feel like you're having a conversation with a friend, rather than being lectured at by a professional. She provides her take, her tricks of the trade, in a confessional way that begs you to lean in and she doesn't shy away from disclosing the details of her personal life to exemplify a point. I now feel like I know her, a chunk of her soul exposed and delivered to me via the words on the page. She's such a fine writer that I think I will search for more books written by her, both nonfiction and fiction. Needless to say, anyone interested in writing will love this book. I highly recommend it.

Mar 23, 2017

This is a book to read, not to use. But its delightful.

JCLBeckyC Sep 01, 2016

I broke down in tears at the end of this book. Not too many writing manuals you can say that about. Anne Lamott is my best friend (even if she's unaware of it) and I truly believe if everyone would read her stuff we could achieve world peace. Here's my favorite quote from the book: “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”

Aug 30, 2016

A warm book filled with advice that relate both to writing and life. I didn't always connect with her voice but I did love the image of how writing a novel is like driving a car in the dark and being only able to see a few inches ahead at a time but how you can get to the end like that the whole way.

TSCPL_ChrisB Jun 02, 2016

I thought this book succeeded best when Lamott was most serious. The stories she tells which slap the reader across the face, or tears their heart out and makes them weep--those are the ones which most motivated me. Too often, however, she resorts to humor and it falls flat. Or it did for me, anyway. The witty remarks, the obscure pop references, and the constant sarcasm made me think of the insecure person at the party who tries to make light of their situation. Which, when you think about it, describes most writers. It was just too much for me. Otherwise, I quite enjoyed Bird by Bird.

View All Comments


Add a Quote
britprincess1ajax May 14, 2017

"If you're not enough before the gold medal, you won't be enough with it."

britprincess1ajax May 14, 2017

"Toni Morrison said, 'The function of freedom is to free someone else,' and if you are no longer wracked or in bondage to a person or a way of life, tell your story. Risk freeing someone else."

britprincess1ajax May 14, 2017

"Having a baby's like suddenly getting the world's worst roommate, like having Janis Joplin with a bad hangover and PMS come to stay with you."

britprincess1ajax May 14, 2017

"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 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."

Jun 18, 2013

Now it might be that your God is an uptight, judgmental perfectionist, sort of like Bob Dole or, for that matter, me. But a preist friend of mine has cautioned me away from the standard God of our childhoods, who loves and guides you and then, if you are bad, roasts you; God as a high school principal in a gray suit who never remembered your name but is always leafing unhappily through your files. If this is your God, maybe you need to blend in the influence of someone who is ever so slightly more amused by you, someone less anal. David Byrne is good, for instance. Grace allen is good. Mr. Rogers will work.


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at SPL

To Top