Top Ten Quotes: Bird By Bird
People who write like to read books written by people who write. If for nothing else, to keep from writing sentences like the one I just wrote.
I’ve read a few great books written by great writers over the years: Wordsmithy by Douglas Wilson, On Writing by Stephen King, Style by Joseph Williams, and more. But recently I (finally) picked up a book that’s been recommended to me for years: Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life.
Anne Lamott has – by her own admission – lived a lot of life, and it comes out in her writing. Her raw humor and rawer honesty about life is at times both startling and comforting. If you like to write – or hey, maybe if you just like life – I think this is one you’d enjoy.
Here are my top ten favorite quotes:
- I just try to warn people who hope to get published that publication is not all that it is cracked up to be. But writing is. Writing has so much to give, so much to teach, so many surprises…[t]he act of writing turns out to be its own reward.
- “How do you actually do it?” You sit down, I say. You try to sit down at approximately the same time every day. This is how you train your unconscious to kick in for you creatively.
- …we may notice amazing details during the course of a day but we rarely let ourselves stop and really pay attention. An author makes you notice, makes you pay attention, and this is a great gift.
- Very few writers really know what they are doing until they’ve done it.
- If you are a writer, or want to be a writer, this is how you spend your days—listening, observing, storing things away, making your isolation pay off. You take home all you’ve taken in, all that you’ve overheard, and you turn it into gold. (Or at least you try.)
- …perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor.
- Writing is about learning to pay attention and to communicate what is going on.
- …you have to believe in your position, or nothing will be driving your work. If you don’t believe in what you are saying, there is no point in your saying it. You might as well call it a day and go bowling.
- …you don’t always have to chop with the sword of truth. You can point with it, too.
- 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.
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