From the scores of books on writing that I’ve used over the last twenty years, the one piece of advice that floats to the top most frequently comes from this book. Author Anne Lamott tells the story about the time her brother, at age ten, was overwhelmed by an assignment to write a report on birds. He didn’t know where to begin. Fortunately, Lamott’s father offered sound advice: just take it bird by bird. What makes this book a classic is the “instructions” are delivered in stories, anecdotes, reminisces, funny and sad jokes, instead of bullet points or lectures.
Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life (New York: Pantheon Books/Random House, 1994.) 20.