One of the books that gets mentioned consistently near the top of any book list for writers is ‘Bird By Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life’ by Anne Lamott.
The title comes from a family story of hers in which she recounts how her older, ten-year old brother was struggling to complete a written report on birds for school the next day despite having had three months to prepare. In the midst of his despair, she remembers her father sitting down at the table with a son who was panicked by the immensity of the task that faced him. He put his arm around his shoulder and said, “Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird”.
How accurate for anyone who’s struggled to battle the blank page in the creation of any form of writing. And if you want to understand why it’s so popular, just read how she describes perfectionism as being the enemy of all:
“I think 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. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren’t even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they’re doing it.”
It’s much more than just another book about writing. It’s funny, instructive and just a great read. Well worth buying.