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Excelling at Chess
Jacob Aagaard
The Art and Craft of Feature Writing: Based on The Wall Street Journal Guide
William E. Blundell

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life - Anne Lamott More inspirational that instructional, Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird is a witty, entertaining look at her life as a writer, and while I would warn other writers against blindly emulating any writer's process, there's certainly plenty here worth stealing. Most interesting is her approach to teaching the craft; if you're writing for money, fame, approval or other forms of validation, Lamott suggests you're probably already in trouble. In one sense, she's probably right; writing is a tough way to make a living unless something in the writing process feeds you (the writing world is filled with people more interested in the lifestyle than the work itself, and for them, Lamott's book should serve as a wakeup call).Most of her specific advice isn't exactly new (notice things, take notes, use what you know in your stories, your first draft probably bites), yet when told in the context of her career, her advice is compelling -- especially to those without fully formed reasons for entering the business. Don't expect bullet points or any of that comically oversimplified "1. Write Book; 2. Get Agent..." crap. Lamott's all about writing for the sake of writing, and this book focuses on her processes -- including a chapter on dealing with jealousy.That's not exactly normal "how to" fare, but at the very least -- to a writer with plenty of experience in copywriting but little in Lamott's part of the writing universe -- it's amusing stuff.A few lucky writers find the resources they need at critical parts of their career (I stumbled on Ogilvy On Advertising when I was starting to wonder about making a living in the advertising world), and given the kind of grounded, real-world inspiration it offers, I think "Bird by Bird" should probably be handed to every college student captured by the thought of arranging words for a living.Lamott's a witty and revealing writer, and though I'm not a memoirist or fiction writer, it's hard not to be inspired by this book.