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

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this book, even though it’s not at all what I expected when I picked it up. More of a memoir than an instructional guide, Anne Lamott tells the story of how she became a writer, and flurries in advice and anecdotes she shares with her students on writing and life as an author.

Certain points she makes really resonated with me, including how it’s okay to let your characters tell their own story. What you outline is not necessarily the story you’ll end up with, because your characters will learn and grow and find their own way through the story. Whenever I felt my characters taking over in my own novel, I felt kind of crazy — “they’re not taking over, they’re in my own head after all!” — but it’s nice to know that’s normal.

I also enjoyed her anecdotes about dealing with agents and publishers, as I’m at that point in my writing career, so it was relevant to what I’m starting to experience now. It’s interesting reading this perspective from the early 90s, and despite email/social media being the biggest change in communication, the overall experience isn’t really that different.

All-in-all I would recommend this book to any new or aspiring author.

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