Reddit Reddit reviews Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

We found 35 Reddit comments about Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. Here are the top ones, ranked by their Reddit score.

Health, Fitness & Dieting
Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life
Anchor Books
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35 Reddit comments about Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life:

u/TheWanderingBen · 50 pointsr/gamedev

What exactly are you struggling with?

  • World/Lore building? Try setting the game in a historical place/time and research it!
  • Plot structure? Analyze some of your favourites and dissect what they're doing. Hero's Journey and Three Act Story Structure are some common ways to simplify plot writing.
  • Dialogue writing? Typically this is a sign of your characters not having enough personality. Spend a lot of time writing their backstory -- what are their goals and motivations, why? how does that relate to their childhood? etc. You should know waaay more about your characters than your audience ever will.
  • Blank page petrification? Hey man, starting a story is hard! Sometimes you just stare at nothing for long periods of time and don't know where to start. Some things that help for me? Tim Schafer's advice to write stream-of-consciousness -- like anything -- just write and don't stop (e.g.: today I ate a bologna sandwich, it was good. Then I saw Pam and we talked about blah. Oh wait, blah could be a good story hook. Why don't I use blah with bloop to make bleep? Brilliant!). Another good book with similar advice is Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

    Hope that helps, good luck!
u/tel · 19 pointsr/haskell

Something like

  • Documentation has a wider goal than just "documenting", it must transition a novice user to an expert
  • To do this you must do more than annotate, you must teach
  • Types, tests, readable source, etc all mystify the beginner—while they have a purpose, they do not serve the total goal
  • Function-level documentation is great, but it's just one piece of the whole too
  • Community-driven documentation without an owner sucks. You need a voice and a guiding principle
  • Teaching is about empathy—your documentation should exude empathy for the novice

    Then there's a breakdown and guide

  • Good documentation comes in, perhaps, four parts
    • First Contact assumes little base knowledge and answers "what is this?" and "why do I care?"
    • It also describes "what's next?"
    • The Black Triangle is a step-by-step guide that takes a user who has decided that they do care to the point of operating the library, simply
    • Get your user using as fast as possible
    • The Hairball is a largeish breakdown of all the things someone must know, each paragraph nudging the novice toward greater understanding bird-by-bird
    • The Reference is support documentation for experts
u/emilygirlme · 16 pointsr/writing
u/condom-sense · 8 pointsr/orangeisthenewblack

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. It's a fantastic book, definitely worth the read! Loved seeing it in the show.

u/JimSFV · 6 pointsr/writing

Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott.

u/lost_generation · 5 pointsr/writing

I heard someone say once that you need to understand the rules before you can break them the right way. Anyway, I found these books helpful. I would never adhere to their advice exactly, but I did learn a lot from all of them and combine it with my own personal style:

John Gardner - The Art of Fiction

A bit dated, but it still does a good job of laying out what it means to write fiction. He has some good suggestions for exercises at the end.

Anne LaMott - Bird By Bird

Half craft, half inspirational. I'm not usually big on sappy, inspirational shit, but I loved this book and found it very helpful.

James Bonnet - Stealing Fire From the Gods

Focuses on the elements of great stories in film and books.

John Trimble - Writing With Style

This is a great overview of the technical side of writing well. The best I have found.

The main thing though: READ A LOT OF FICTION. You should read much more than you write. No one ever became a great writer by sitting around and reading about writing, but it can help you zero in on what to look for in the fiction of others.

Hope that helps.

u/blue58 · 4 pointsr/booksuggestions

That's a deep rabbit hole, if you allow it.

There are different books for different parts of writing. Some focus on plot [Story Engineering], others talk you out of blocks [Bird by Bird]. Some deal with immersion [Wired for Story], others warn you of newbie errors [edit yourself]. Some only talk about the first page. [Hooked]

If you specify what you want the most, I can probably get more specific. The best way to deal with grammar, other than the dry "Elements of Style", is to take a free Cousera course, or OWLs online and test yourself. I also love this blog for crazy awesome advice both current and in her backlog.

Edit: Also too: Might as well hang out at /r/writing and pop in from time to time at /r/grammar

u/becauseineedone3 · 4 pointsr/EOOD

Thanks for the read. I have been feeling especially overwhelmed lately at work. I snapped at two coworkers yesterday in separate incidents. I owe an apology to one of them today. The other, I do not.

I think that setting up small goals is really the best way to live. I was reading in a book about writing recently called Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. It said something along the lines of "the best instructions for writing, and living life, are to do both like you are driving at night. You don't need to see more than a few feet ahead of you to make the whole journey."

u/calinet6 · 4 pointsr/motivation

Been there. We all have. Keep that in mind too—the last thing you need is to feel down on yourself for being human. Remember that in some ways, you're just a machine wired to feel this way. Know how your machinery works, and you can make it work better.

For now focus on your next action and task at hand—but when you're out of this, two books:

  1. "Getting Things Done" by David Allen. His books and his advice are genius at using exactly this strategy to manage everything you have to do. The question "What's your next action?" comes from this book and it's the question you should ask if you're ever stuck.

  2. "Bird by Bird" by Anne Lamott. It's about writing and how to write, but mostly about life and how to do anything well, and how to find that motivation and ability to work even when you don't have it. It's glorious to read in its humanity.

    Here's a quote from the 2nd one that is relevant to you at this moment:

    > Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the 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 out 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."

    That's what I tell myself every time I have a gigantic task to do. Bird by bird. It reminds me to just take it one step at a time.

    *edit: Ah, I have to share this one too... next paragraph after that one in "Bird by Bird"—

    > E. L. Doctorow once said that "writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way." You don't have to see where you're going, you don't have to see your des­tination or everything you will pass along the way. You just have to see two or three feet ahead of you. This is right up there with the best advice about writing, or life, I have ever heard.
u/tuna_safe_dolphin · 3 pointsr/DoesAnybodyElse

It brings to mind the phrase "the piece of shit the world revolves around" which I first encountered in this book

u/lifeandall · 3 pointsr/writing

There is an excellent section in the book Bird by Bird that talks about wanting to be published versus the benefit of writing. The author talks about teaching a writing class and being interupted several times, even on the first day of class, to be asked about publishing. In her sarcastic tone, she replies most of them will never be published, but if they persist in writing, they will be transformed. Many of them leave the class after the first day. Writing IS the reward. Publication is great, but shouldn't always be considered the end all.

u/yelruh00 · 3 pointsr/writing

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott is a great book that not only helps your writing but also helps you to be more introspective and find your creative self.

u/strange_steps · 3 pointsr/KeepWriting

PLEASE read Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott it will give you some insight into writing as well as life in general. Please, please read it I promise you won't regret it! It is one of my absolute favorite books and it's helped me through some rough spots when nothing else seems to help.

u/[deleted] · 3 pointsr/writing

Bird by Bird - Anne Lamott

This is one of my favorite books on the topic of writing.

u/linuz90 · 2 pointsr/Screenwriting

Best advice ever. Also, this is one of the most important point of Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird. Must-read.

u/0TOYOT0 · 2 pointsr/gay_irl

Found it.

u/Gryphron · 2 pointsr/aspergers

Read "Bird by Bird" by Anne Lamont. One of the best books on writing of all time. Really helped me take off and get out of my own way. It's a skill.

u/justgoodenough · 2 pointsr/writing

I'm starting too. Here's the list of resources I am planning on working my way through. No promises that you will know how to write after you are done, but it's a place to start. I haven't read/watched everything on this list yet (I'm just starting Brandon Sanderson's lectures, I have read On Writing, I have read some of Chuck Palahniuk's essays, and I went to a lecture on plotting that was largely based on Save the Cat), it's just the list of what I am planning on checking out.

Brandon Sanderson's Creative Writing Lectures

Chuck Palahniuk's Essay on Writing

On Writing by Stephen King

[Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott]

Story by Robert McKee

Save the Cat by Blake Snyder

This thread also has additional resources.

Oh, also, this is a funny resource, but I like reading Query Shark because one of the things that comes up over and over again is boiling a story down to three questions: who is your main character, what do they want, why can't they get it? I think when you are writing, you want to keep those questions at the core of your story and a lot of her comments on the blog are about cutting through all the extra stuff and getting to that core.

Edit: I missed that you said you already watched the Brandon Sanderson lectures. Sorry!

u/ryancows · 2 pointsr/writing

advice from teachers that has stuck with/influenced me:

  • build the myth of place, place can drive as much as character (as in, it can be what shapes/informs character)
  • think critically about what you focus on, but also what you avoid
  • whatever you create, make it necessary for the form (as in write what can only be explored in fiction, film what can only be explored on screen, etc.)
  • talk out your dialog--converse with your characters aloud (if your roommate doesn't think you're crazy, you aren't doing it right)
  • editing is 70% of writing
  • the whole shitty firsts drafts thing, really there are gems in that whole book, though the relig parts turned me off
  • [be willing to] kill your darlings


  • E.L. Doctorow: "Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way."
  • Roberto Bolano: "Never approach short stories one at a time. If one approaches short stories one at a time, one can quite honestly be writing the same short story until the day one dies. It is best to write short stories three or five at a time. If one has the energy, write them nine or fifteen at a time."
u/MFCORNETTO · 2 pointsr/writing

Some hard truths:

  • When people say "writing," what they really mean is "re-writing." Nothing you've ever read has been a first draft. Every first draft is shitty. Just get the words out, you'll be getting rid of most of them anyway, but you have to get them out of your head.
  • Writing is 80/20 skill/talent. Talent you can't do anything about. Good news for you, because the majority of writers became good by just putting the hours in. It's like learning guitar or becoming good at golf or picking up salsa dancing: practice + time = skill.

    Some take-or-leave advice:

  • Start with writing about your life. It doesn't matter if anyone ever reads this or not, but it's the best practice out there. The books that helped me with this are What it Is, by Lynda Barry and The Vein of Gold, by Julia Cameron.
  • If you haven't read Bird by Bird yet, go read it twice.
  • Keep a vaguely detailed journal of what you did that day. Examples: "Went to class, prof wore that same stained sweater vest today," "Coffee with Julie, talked about the fight she and Brent had about coasters," etc. General life stuff you wouldn't think to write in a journal (if you think the goal of that journal is to document EVERYTHING are the little bits in fiction that make it feel real - go back and read these little quips when you're stuck. They'll help you find your voice again). You can write a page and a half about the color of the leaves on the day you first saw the girl you're going to marry, but the more you can make the reader create the image in their head instead of force-feeding it to them, the more it will resonate with them. This is basically show-don't-tell, or Unpacking.

    Hopefully that helps. Otherwise, I owe you 30 seconds of your life back. I will compensate you with Reddit Silver.
u/BillWidmer · 1 pointr/Entrepreneur

Someone messaged me about this, so I thought I'd share the answer here. They asked about how to become a better writer and a few tips:

Hey there,

Sure thing! There's definitely a lot of stuff out there. The best way to hone your craft:

  1. Read a lot (I recommend Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott and Everybody Writes by Ann Handley - apparently, people named Ann are good writers. :)

  2. Write a lot. In fact, write every day. Journal every morning for 10-15 minutes. Don't just write about your industry, either - write about whatever interests you. Your day, the nice view out the window, something that inspires you, something that challenges you. Dedicate that time to just set your mind free and "play" with words, so to speak. Try new words you've never used.

    Some other great resources are:




    Niche down hard, as well. The more niche your writing, the more you're likely to be paid. That said, there are certain niches - mainly SaaS, online marketing, eCommerce, and online business - that tend to pay better than others. Sports, for example, is incredibly difficult to write about since most writers write for free.

    Once you've figured out a niche, start going after high-end blogs in that niche to get guest posts. Once people start seeing your name on high quality work on high authority blogs, they'll start to come to you rather than you needing to look for work.

    Which leads to my last point - always give it your best. Don't skimp on writing, even if you're not being paid. Something I lived by is The 10X Rule: Give 10 times the value of what you're being paid. Eventually, that will come back to you exponentially.

    Hope this helps!! :) I may actually work on creating a course to put a few really serious people through. If you're interested, let me know - I'm not going to bother with it unless I see an interest.

    Feel free to ask me any other questions!
u/yourbasicgeek · 1 pointr/writing

Teach yourself that writing and editing are two phases. In the first, your job is to write. Get the story out of your head and on paper (or on screen). If the internal editor tells you to change something, tell her to shut up; she'll get her chance later.

In other words, write a shitty first draft. Tell yourself that it's okay to be shitty. I have been making a damned fine living as a writer for 25 years, and I promise you that my first drafts are still crap. (Not as crap as they used to be, but I assure you: They are crap.)

And that is fine. Because your initial role is to TELL THE STORY.

Once the story is written, then you can edit it. Then you can step back and see what does and doesn't work. Only then can you see what is and isn't "perfect" (yeah right, like there is any such thing). You can't see that when you're too close to it, anyhow. It's like a painter who's standing on top of the painting; you need to take a few steps back to see what really shows up.

And then, I promise you, you can enjoy it. (I love editing far more than I love writing.)

Best book for helping your drum this into your own head is Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird. You'll say, "OMG she is writing about me!" and also you will laugh out loud, I promise you.

u/CommunistLibertarian · 1 pointr/steampunk

Writing stories is a bit like a steam locomotive: it works best when the boiler is riveted shut.

In other words, be careful how much you talk about a story before you actually write it, or you may lose momentum.

That said, sounds like you have an interesting premise. Good luck, and remember: bird by bird! (If that makes no sense, you need to read this book.)

u/mmafc · 1 pointr/writing

Anne Lamott talks about this in Bird by Bird. The basic idea is to break a daunting project into smaller parts. You can't write it all at once. Do one scene at a time. Yes, it will take a lifetime. That's the whole idea, right?

You say you want to get down "just the facts" but that you get sidelined by needing to "clarify every thought." So which one do you want to do?

u/omaca · 1 pointr/books

On Writing by Stephen King is good.
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott is a very entertaining and funny book on writing. Lamott is a well known novelist, but also the author of several essays on religion. She is very funny.

For the record, I'm an atheist and I like Lamott's writing.

u/creativityfuse · 1 pointr/writing

I can relate somewhat to what you're going through, I spent years in the corporate world writing business plans and requirement documents, then left to write fiction. The first thing that really helped me was allowing myself to spill things out without a censor, and without setting any standards (for the first few months at least). I ended up writing a ton of fragments, mostly childhood memories (autobiography vs. fiction), but then I slowly started making things up. There's a ton of great advice here from others about how to be a good writer, but if your challenge is tapping into your creative side, I think it's important to throw out rules and to allow yourself to be messy, to indulge whatever interests you, to not censor or edit yourself, and spend some time tapping into your creative side.

Once you've done that for a while and you feel like you are writing in a new way, then if you want you can focus on really learning to write creative fiction or whatever you want to do. I took classes at Gotham Writer's Workshop, which is based in nyc but I hear their online classes are great, and they have a ton of free resources on their site. Besides reading a ton of fiction I also read many books on craft. Someone already mentioned Stephen King's On Writing, which is quick and entertaining (not necessarily super-informative though). But I really loved Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird, she has a chapter on 'Shitty First Drafts' and 'Jealousy' and is incredibly honest about the process. The most important thing though especially in the beginning is to allow yourself to have fun, explore, to release your creative juices and to pat yourself on the back for starting the process.

u/brikis98 · 1 pointr/writing

Ah yes, the shitty rough draft from Bird by Bird is essential advice for any writer.

u/nanonate · 1 pointr/nanowrimo

This is all solely my opinion so take it for what it's worth.

I see a lot of writing app designers try to incorporate a sort of collaborative element to the writing process but it just doesn't pan out. It seems like a new one comes out every month. I was involved in suggesting a few early features to Writer Duet. It started out with the primary vision being collaborative screenwriting (hence the name) but over time has shifted toward just being a really good screenwriting app with lots of customization. (If you're interested, u/writerduet is a very active redditor and would probably give you some input if you asked.)

I think a lot of this has to do with writing being a very solitary activity rife with insecurities. Your app solves one major writing insecurity (hyperediting/second guessing). But then you're proposing adding these word wars which will replace that with another (everyone writes faster/more than me).

I think you'd benefit more by shifting your focus away from the Nanowrimo speed writing angle toward being the app that takes the intimidation away from staring at the blank page. If you can get a copy of the first few chapters of Bird by Bird, I think you'll see what I mean. That's the real battle writers have.

u/sallinda · 1 pointr/writing

I really enjoy Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird her guide to writing "the shitty first draft" is really helpful even after 8 years later. I would also recommend looking up your favorite authors specifically and seeing if they wrote or contributed to anything about the technical aspect of writing. Even if they don't have an actual writing book, they might have podcasts/blogs/interviews about their writing process. You could try to then mimic the process of books that you already know and enjoy.

u/doofus62 · 1 pointr/writing

I loved Bird by Bird

u/Couchspud123 · 1 pointr/orangeisthenewblack

If you really like the reading done by Red order the book, I did, and don't bother reading the reviews!

u/quintessentialaf · 1 pointr/Standup

This is reminiscient of my favorite book on writing, Anne Lamott's "Bird By Bird". Not much in the way of nuts-and-bolts, and not directly about standup, but very inspiring and rejuvenating to the writer who has lost motivation.