Bird by Bird

“Say to yourself in the kindest possible way, Look, honey, all we’re going to do for now is to write a description of the river at sunrise, or the young child swimming in the pool at the club, or the first time the man sees the woman he will marry. That is all we are going to do for now. We are just going to take this bird by bird. But we are going to finish this one short assignment.”

This is a book about writing and life written by Anne Lamont. The title is Bird by Bird. She has some great ideas about working through writer’s block and getting started writing especially when writing childhood stories, but other concepts also.

I think this is a great paragraph because it gets the reader to wonder how birds relate to writing. That is explained, but not in this paragraph

10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. jseeley1000
    Sep 26, 2011 @ 17:30:14

    Hmm, I’d have to say that honestly, I don’t find this lead very engaging. Of course, I think I already pointed this out in another comment, and I’m going to keep repeating it: This kind of writing is an art, and people tend to have different tastes.

    For me, the paragraph seems very abstract. I’ll be honest that when I read, I like things to be a bit more direct. This kind of writing, rather than engaging me, would be more likely to drive me away. So, personally, I do not find this engaging. But that’s just my personal taste, I can’t genuinely say that this paragraph is a bad lead.


    • marsha4852
      Oct 01, 2011 @ 13:22:41

      As I said earlier the author, Anne Lamont is teaching writers. I think it is direct. The bird by bird part is abstract. Ms. Lamont’s father was a writer also, and once when her brother was supposed to write about birds, he had several books laid out on their table. He was freaking out, not knowing where to start and he waited until a few days before the paper was due to begin his writing.

      When her dad saw that her brother was stressed about the project, her dad told him (the brother) to just write it bird by bird. She uses that idea when teaching others about writing.


  2. danicazondlak
    Sep 30, 2011 @ 02:33:03

    I found this paragraph to be interesting but not engaging to me. If I were looking through a stack of books and reading the first paragraph in each this one would probably get rejected. I am very picky when it comes to books too though so this is just my opinion. This paragraph did make me think though. It made it seem like writing can be easier if you just break it up into smaller parts.


    • marsha4852
      Oct 01, 2011 @ 13:19:53

      Danica, your last comment is exactly why I like this paragraph. It seems like we all like different types of writing, (not too surprising), so different paragraphs relate to all of us differently. You might like other paragraphs in the book better than this one. I like it because I want to be a writer, and the author teaches writers.


  3. takenbythetide
    Oct 01, 2011 @ 03:17:37

    I actually liked this opening. It’s subtle but it draws you in with a kind of story. It leaves me wanting more, because I want to know what the assignment is and I also want to know more about the speaker and the person being spoken to.


    • marsha4852
      Oct 01, 2011 @ 13:16:21

      One of our customers had the book laying around their house and I read a few sections inside. Intrigued, I told her I may look it up in the library. She ended up giving me the book.


  4. aliciamurphy27
    Oct 02, 2011 @ 22:06:56

    I like this paragraph. Take it bird by bird. In writing you should take one thing at a time.


  5. deltaeng860
    Oct 03, 2011 @ 01:34:53

    I enjoyed the paragraph but it took a few times reading it to totally get what it was saying. I do not think it was that engaging for me. I am not saying that for you it wasn’t but that is just my personal opinion. It did not pull me in like and I do not think that if I had read this I would have continued to read the book but that is why they write all kinds of books on all different kinds of subjects.


  6. Roz Weedman
    Oct 05, 2011 @ 23:20:47

    This conversation is very good at showing different tastes in writing. I can, for example, ask students to make sure their papers have an “engaging lead,” but then I have to set aside my own favorites for a more critical approach to seeing the engagement in the lead. No matter how engaging the lead, a romance novel or usually a historical novel just are not going to hook me in. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t capable of a good lead. Good conversation.


  7. Trackback: Reflections: Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott « Reflections in a Puddle

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