Bird by Bird is an instructional book on writing. And it was GREAT! This is the second Anne Lamott book that I’ve read, and I am much more pleased after this one compared to the other.
The inspiration for this book came from her being a writing teacher at a college in her area. She thought that it would be a good idea to put her class in a book form (but more interesting). I really appreciated this idea because I’ve always wanted to take a writing class, but have never had the time nor money. So this is as close as I’m probably going to get.
The book covered topics like character development, plot, getting in the writing frame of mind, tools to help you remember things, first drafts and second drafts, and getting published (and how you probably won’t).
My favorite chapter was “Finding Your Voice.” Anne talked about how her students always wanted to copy their favorite author’s writing, and how horribly bad that is. She encourages us, as writers, to tell our own stories in a way that is faithful to our personhood and perspective. Don’t copy another person because they are successful. Recognize who you are, what you want to say, and how you want to say it. And then go for it.
This idea was freeing to me, because I often compare myself to various authors, inwardly lamenting on how much better they are than me. Their characters are so interesting. The dialogue is so witty. The voice is so sophisticated. Or detailed. Or blah blah blah. I end up wanting to take a little bit of everyone and create something for myself. But then I’m being untrue to who I am, and the gifts (or non-gifts) that God has created me with :).
I look forward to using this book to help me start writing in the near future. My writing has consisted of school papers and blogging, so I hope that with creative exercises, I’ll be able to expand my horizons, find my voice, and begin this creative endeavor.
For all you inspiring writers out there, this would be an excellent book for your library.