Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott

Book Review by Ruth Folit

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamont is a humorous, tell-it-like-it-is account about the daily life of a writer, along with plenty of specific instruction about how to write.  Author Anne Lamott’s writing is encouraging, chatty, compassionate, hilarious, and full of practical advice.

In one of her writing tips, Lamott uses the analogy of a Polaroid photograph for writing first drafts: “Writing a first draft is very much like watching a Polaroid develop. You can’t—and, in fact, you’re not suppose to—know exactly what the picture is going to look like until it has finished developing.”

Lamott offers concrete suggestions about character, plot, setting, and other topics of interest to writers. She also offers irreverent advice about how to navigate through the dark underbelly feelings of self-doubt, inadequacy, and jealousy that are inevitable parts of any writer’s experience. Lamott artfully debunks the many myths of aspiring writers. Lamott’s humorous advice is based on her own experience and honest self-analysis which provides writers the necessary perspective to keep writing through the difficult times that all writers encounter.