Wilbur was to cozy to post somewhere aesthetically pleasing, and who can blame him? (Photo by Kate Ota 2023)
Bird by Bird is one of those writing books that’s been recommended to me time and time again. Lauded as a must-read for authors, I had high expectations going in that this book had the power to alter my writing process or philosophy in some way.
The book focuses on Lamott's writing process. She's a pantser, and does that thing where characters talk to her. The book discusses the novel process in stages, which is supposed to make the whole thing more digestible. The title refers to the author's brother needing to write a report on birds the night before it's due, and their father saying they'd take it "bird by bird" or one step at a time.
Normally, I highlight a bunch of advice in writing books and leave little flags on pages I expect to reference again, but none of that was necessary for Bird by Bird. It operates under the assumption that the reader shares Lamott’s creative process. Unfortunately, I’m a plotter and I do not wait for characters to speak to me and tell me their secrets. I’m one who has to actively create. Basically, the entire book fell flat for me.
Is It Worth It?
It’s about $14.99 for a paperback copy, though an ebook ($13.99) would have been just as good.
If you’re a pantser looking for a book that will guide you through that process, this is a good book for you. If you prefer to plot and actively create, then this book will not be worth it for you.
Have you read Bird by Bird? Are you one of the people who loved it, or is there anyone who felt disappointed, like me? Let’s discuss in the comments.