What is the summary for Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life?

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Noelle Thompson | High School Teacher | eNotes Employee

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This is truly a book on how to write and how to turn your writing into a gold mine.

The "Bird by Bird" part of the title is actually a story about Anne's brother. When he was younger, Anne's brother left a report about birds that was supposed to take months and months until the last day before the assignment was due. Anne's brother sat at the kitchen table crying with all of these unopened bird books around him. Anne's father sat by his son and told him to take it bird by bird. This is how his essay became a success. Anne's point is that any writer can do the same.

Anne takes us through the worst examples of rough drafts, to finished products, to articles fit for publication. 

Anne gives any writer advice to help improve his or her writing. She wants us to start small. She wants us to concentrate on characters instead of the plot, because that is where the true craft of any story is. Writing, in itself, should be more rewarding than the actual publication of a work. She suggest starting a writers' support group. She suggests to never underestimate the power of a small audience.

In conclusion, it is important to note that this is not only a "how to" book, but it is also a bit about Anne's life. Anne makes her money by writing books and magazine articles, but she also teaches writing. 

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shmindle | Student, Grade 11 | (Level 2) Honors

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Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life is a nonfiction book written by Anne Lamott in which the author writes about aspects of her life and how they have impacted her writing style. She begins the book with her father— also an author. Anne followed her father's footsteps, realizing her passion for writing during her childhood. As a writer, Anne did not become successful immediately. At this time, her father was diagnosed with brain cancer, and she writes about her family in the manuscript that was accepted by an agent. In future years, Anne becomes more connected with writing. She gives birth to her son, and compares the process of raising him to writing. Anne teaches workshops and aims to help her students understand the struggles and rewards of writing. Through personal anecdotes, Anne weaves her advice on being a good writer, which includes reminders to be honest and passionate.

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