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




my notes:



One of the gifts of being a writer is that it gives you an excuse to do things, go places and explore.

The thrill of seeing oneself in print provides some sort of primal verification: you are in print; therefore you exist.

Remember that you own what happens to you.

Becoming a better writer is going to help you become a better reader, and that is the real payoff.

The first draft is the child’s draft, where you let it all pour out and then let it romp all over the place, knowing that no one is going to see it and that you can shape it later.

The first draft is the down draft—you just get it down. The second is the up draft—you fix it up. The third draft is the dental draft—you check every tooth, to see if it’s loose or cramped or decayed or even healthy.

My mind spends much of its time having conversations with people who aren’t there.

Perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping stone just right, you won’t have to die.

If you look at people and just see sloppy clothes or rich clothes, you’re going to get them wrong.

There is ecstasy in paying attention.

When what we see catches us off guard, and when we write it as realistically and openly as possible, it offers hope.

To be engrossed by something outside ourselves is a powerful antidote for the rational mind, the mind that so frequently has its head up its own ass.

To live life as if we’re dying can set us free.

Say you happen to know a lot about something, and the right person asks you to tell them everything you know about it. What a wonderful and rare experience.

Your unconscious can’t work when you are breathing down its neck.

It is natural to take on someone else’s style, that it’s a prop that you use for a while until you have to give it back. And it just might take you to the thing that is not on loan, the thing that is real and true: your own voice.

If something inside you is real, we will probably find it interesting, and it will probably be universal.

And it is a revolutionary act—truth is always subversive.

When writers make us shake our heads with the exactness of their prose and their truths, and even make us laugh about ourselves or life, our buoyancy is restored.