bird by bird

“bird by bird – Some InstructionsRamblings on Writing and Life” is a short book by Anne Lamott that essentially recaps her life as a writer, her challenges, failures and successes and lessons learned. She is funny at times and most of what she says will sound familiar to anyone inclined to put words on paper. Is it a surefire way to a bestseller? Certainly not, you may even decide not to write anything because you are tuned in 24/7 to “KFKD radio” and you can’t turn it off. Well, Anne has been there, she can turn it off and so can you. You can find your “broccoli” (watch Mel Brooks in “The 2000 Year Old Man”), you can quiet your distractions, be it through rituals or whatever works for you, like focused breathing as my Apple Watch reminds me just after getting up.

Personally, I am a big fan of “morning pages”, getting a cup of coffee, sitting down with my A4 notebook and Sailor fountain pen and just let the ink flow onto the page, watching it form words as if by magic. I usually don’t revisit these pages for months, if ever. That’s not the point, it’s not a diary, it’s just like warming up, like a singer would do scales of “üh ah oh” for the vocal cords before starting to actually sing.

Anne Lamott does give some advice in her book, of which none are new and you probably have heard them all before and if not, it doesn’t hurt to hear them again, like short assignments, use formulas like ABDCE (Action, Background, Development, Climax, Ending), use index cards or an app on your phone (I use “Day One”) to jot down ideas, give yourself a daily minimum quota (300 words), have someone to read your draft, know your audience and so forth but most importantly, get out of the way and let the writing happen…

I would say it’s not about the advice as much as it is about her truth and the way she tells it. You can enjoy that and in the end it may not help you with your writing but maybe it will help you to regain your buoyancy and that is a good start.


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