Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Bird by Bird

One of my favorite books on writing is Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. This great book not only discusses the fundamentals of writing like plot, character, setting, etc. but also other helpful tips for the more advanced writer, such as ways to overcome the voice in your head that tells you you’re not good enough, ideas for writing groups and what to do during the publication (and pre-publication) process.

One of the important lessons Lamott teaches in Bird by Bird is to break up writing assignments into chunks that are easier deal with. She suggests that you keep a one inch picture frame by your writing desk.

It reminds me that all I have to do is write down as much as I can see through a one-inch picture frame. This is all I have to bit off for the time being. All I am going to do right now, for example, is write that one paragraph that sets the story in my hometown, in the late fifties, when the trains were still running. (18)

This lesson is also where the title of the book comes from. She tells the story of when her brother was writing a must-procrastinated paper on birds and he couldn’t figure out how he was going to complete the huge project. His father imparted upon him these words of wisdom that inspire us today. “Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird” (19).

Sometimes the immensity of 50,000 words in 30 days is overwhelming, so we should remind ourselves to just take it bird by bird, and keep plowing on.

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