Word by word with Anne Lamott.


Somehow during the past months I kept coming across the name of Anne Lamott cited by some authors in reference to the elusive art of writing. Bird by Bird: Instructions on Writing and Life, is an honest, moving and sometimes funny account on how you can decide to live your life by accepting and welcoming your vulnerability and being open to tell the story about it.

“Writing can be a pretty desperate endeavor, because it is about some of our deepest needs: our need to be visible, to be heard, our need to make sense of our lives, to wake up, to grow and belong.”

“…good writing is about telling the truth. We are a species that needs and wants to understand who we are.”

Although Lamott’s book was published more than twenty years ago (1994), its insights, frankness and down-to-earth suggestions have proven to be timeless as it is evidenced by the many well-known writers that mention this work as a must-read. If you happen to be about to write something, or have long been struggling to do so, you’ll probably feel encouraged to sit down and put everything down on paper. You’ll possibly feel you are more than ever, able to accomplish the task. She breaks down this life venture, not in the usual, practical tips, but in its core purpose as well as in its unsteady process along the way.

“Becoming a writer is about becoming conscious. When you are conscious and writing from a place of insight and simplicity and real caring about the truth, you have the ability to throw the lights on for your reader.”

“All of a sudden everything seems to fit together or at least to have some meaning for a moment. This is our goal as writers, I think; to help others have this sense of –please forgive me–wonder, of seeing things anew, things that can catch us off guard, that break in on our small, bordered world.”

The reader can so much relate to her many experiences so warmly told, that you may feel writing is not something foreign to your nature. I especially related to this thought:

“Becoming a writer can also profoundly change your life as a reader. One reads with a deeper appreciation and concentration, knowing now how hard writing is, especially how hard it is to make it look effortless.”

Even the story that lends the book its name entails a high order connection within the episodes of her life confirming once more the sharpness of her observations and how she turns it into material for her craft.

“…thirty years ago, my older brother, who was ten years old at that time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write, which was due the next day. We were at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then, my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, “Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird”.”

I wish you great readings, meaningful connections and why not insightful writing!