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

Author: Anne Lamott
Narrator(s): Susan Bennett
Date Of Publication: 12th June 2013
Genre: Non-Fiction, Writing Guide, Reference
Duration: 7 hours (unabridged)
Publisher: Audioble Audio
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. It 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.”



So now I’ve read this book twice and after the second read, I’ve dropped another star from my rating. I feel that this book is a bit depressing with the author repeatedly highlighting the downside of writing and publishing. I, as a writer, do understand what she means to convey and get it that writing should not be over-glorified especially to the new writers, but at the same time I also feel that that you simply cannot portray only the negative side of the coin to someone who is new and eager as it would end up only demoralising the reader.

I am fully aware that the entire world, for whatever reasons, absolutely adores this book, but if I am being honest, this book made me feel depressed about writing, just the way it did when I first read it. It made me feel hopeless and gave me the feels of being stuck in an endless pit because according to Anne Lamott that’s what writing is. And publishing? Well, I would beg to differ to the opinions of the author and say to the new writers that getting your work published is a great joy and one should enjoy it as much as they possibly can! Maybe for someone who was born in a household of an established writer and who had an agent even before she wrote anything worth reading writing might feel like a mundane thing and getting it published may feel like a task, but for those writers, including me, who learn the craft on their own and bust their asses trying to write something worthwhile, it means a whole lot more than anyone can ever understand.

To be honest, I find it funny how people read this book and even feel ‘motivated’ or ‘inspired’ to write at all! It made me, an already established full-time writer, feel frustrated. No inspiration for me there.

I would definitely not be recommending this book to anyone, least of all to the young and new writers who are just beginning their writing journey. I consider myself lucky that I did not read this book when I was starting my own writing adventure because I am pretty sure this book would have put a damper on it for the worse.

For those who are genuinely interested in reading something that would actually help them in their writing go for:

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself Into Print by Rennie Browne & Dave King

Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer WithinWriting Down The Bones by Natalie Goldberg

The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century by Steven Pinker

These books will teach you and motivate you far more than this book ever can. They will not only make you understand the writing process better but also teach you the right ways in which you can write better without outright feeling shitty about your work so far. These books are the best writing books out there and have greatly helped me in my writing journey, so I speak from experience.

You can also read this review on Goodreads