Book Review: Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

book review bird Anne Lamott

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

Bird by Bird

Some Instructions on Writing and Life
by Anne Lamott

Have you ever noticed that Bird by Bird is one the most recommended books about writing? Although I cannot remember where the recommendation came from for me, it is the very first book I read about writing. This is the book where “shitty first drafts’ comes from -I tell everyone that it’s a technical term.

I was just going through the book again just to tell you about the chapters -I actually read it in 2007 -and ended up reading it again. Anne Lamott’s swift, witty, honest and approachable writing style draws you in. You literally hear her voice instructing, encouraging and ultimately inspiring you.

Bird by Bird is not only a step-by-step guide on how to write but it also offers help to manage the writer’s life. Maybe it is more about life than writing but it’s still good. The chapters include:

Part One: Writing

Getting Started
Short Assignments
Shitty First Drafts
School Lunches
Set Design
False Starts
Plot Treatment
How Do You Know When You’re Done?

Part Two: The Writing Frame of Mind

Looking Around
The Moral Point of View
Radio Station KFKD

Part Three: Help Along the Way

Index Cards
Calling Aroung
Writing Groups
Someone to Read Your Drafts
Writers Block

Part Four: And Other Reasons to Write

Writing a Present
Finding Your Voice

Part Five: The Last Class

The Maeve Binchy Writers’ Club

The Maeve Binchy Writers' Club

The Maeve Binchy Writers’ Club

Maeve Binchy’s Evening Class was the first book I have ever read in English. I was so proud of myself for reading a big book in English and enjoying it, too. This one, however, is a guidebook on writing and it has been one of the most approachable ones for me. It is inspired by a course run by The National College of Ireland. The advice in it comes not only from Maeve Binchy herself but also from other writers, editors and publishers. Here’s the list of these experts: Marian Keyes, Alison Walsh, Norah Casey, Paula Campbell, Ivy Bannister, Seamus Hosey, Gerald Dawe, Jim Culleton, Ferdia McAnna and Julie Parsons.

The Maeve Binchy Writers’ Club is written with charm, humour and generosity. It warms your heart only Maeve Binchy can do. She basically shows us how authors write and covers topics from finding a subject and creating good writing habits to sustaining progress and seeking a publisher. It doesn’t matter if you want to write plays, short stories or mysteries, there is something in it for every one.

At the end of the book, there is an appendix full of suggested further reading, a selection of writing competitions and awards as well as websites and literary journals.

“The most important thing to realize is that everyone is capable of telling a story.” –Maeve Binchy

On Writing by Stephen King


On Writing by Stephen King

I have a confession to make: I have never ever read any of Stephen King’s books. I remember making an attempt to Misery in English but I dropped it after a few pages  as my English wasn’t good enough at the time. On Writing, however, was recommended by a trustworthy source for writers. I’m glad I took that advice.

Although I have pages of detailed notes from this book on my computer, what you see below somehow made its way up here. Here’s some of the highlights:

Let’s get one thing clear right now, shall we? There is no Idea Dump, no Story Central, no Island of the Buried Bestsellers; good story ideas seem to come quite literally  from nowhere, sail at you right out of the empty sky: two previously unrelated ideas come together and make something new under the sun. Your job isn’t to find these  ideas but to recognize them when they show up.

When you’re still too young to shave, optimism is a perfectly legitimate response to failure.

Writers were blessed stenographers taking divine dictation.

In the Durham of my childhood, life wore little or any makeup.

I stood there in the doorway, casting the same shadow as always, but I couldn’t talk.

Finally I gave up and asked the guy behind the counter (the same bald, bored-looking, gray-coated guy who has, I’m convinced, sold alcohol virgins their first bottle since the dawn of commerce) what was cheap.

Silence isn’t what that part is about. It began to scream for help in the only way it knew how, through my fiction and through my monsters.

It starts with this: put your desk in the corner, and every time you sit down there to write, remind yourself why it isn’t in the middle of the room. Life isn’t a support-system for art. It’s the other way around.

The adverb is not your friend.


Language does not always have to wear a tie and lace-up shoes.

Critics who try to rise above this intellectual hardening of the arteries usually meet with limited success.

Story is honorable and trustworthy; plot is shifty, and best kept under house arrest.

… it’s the story undressed, standing up in nothing but its socks and undershorts.

The scariest moment is just before you start. After that things can only get better. Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates or making friends. In the end it is about enriching the lives of those who will read your work and enriching your own life as well. It’s about getting up, getting well and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy. Much of this book – perhaps too much – has been about how I learned to do it.

Much of it is about how you can do it better. The rest of it – and perhaps the best of it – is a permissionship. You can, you should and if you’re brave enough to start, you will. Writing is magic, as much the water of life as any other creative art. So drink. Drink and be filled up.’