Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on… Life.

Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird. The title is well-known. The subtitle? Not so much: Some instructions on Writing and Life. I chose to focus on the and Life angle of the book. The writing advice in the book is thoroughly cataloged in many other places. Below are some of my thoughts while reading.

  • Life should be built like Papier-mâché. Tattered fragment after tattered fragment. Flung onto the pile, rising in a general direction. Messy, imperfect, but not aimless. Small additions, compounded. Art.
  • Quality and quantity of attention matter. You have the choice to use them as you please. How you do so is your life.
  • It is okay to not take life very seriously.
  • We vastly overestimate people who have achieved something extraordinary. They are usually not much different from the average one of us. It is circumstances and environment that distinguish.
  • No one’s first effort at anything is ever good. Lighten up and give it a whirl.
  • Live your truth–and tell it too. The truth will set you free, and your truth may set others free.
  • In the end, little is of any importance. Enjoy the freedom to err.
  • Our paying attention or not paying attention shapes our experiences, which in time become our memories, our cumulative self. Attention, attention, attention is the bedrock of the human life.
  • Doing is easy. Accepting what can’t be done is hard. Accepting what you’ve done is hard.


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