Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life-Anne Lamott (Quotation)

1. Good writing is about telling the truth. (p3)
2. Don't worry about doing it well yet, though. Just start getting it down. (p4)
3. Remember you own what happened to you.  (p6)

4. You try to sit down  approximately the same time every day. (p6)

5. Becoming a better writer is going to help you become a better reader, and that is the real payoff. (p10)

6. All I have to do was to write a really shitty first draft.( p24)

7. You need to start somewhere. Start by getting something- anything - down on paper. (p25)

8. When I sit down to work on a shitty first draft is to quiet my voices in my head. (p26)

9. I love short stories because I believe they are the way we live. They are what our friends tell us, in their pain and joy, their passion and rage, their yearning and their cry against injustice. -Andre Dubus (p47)

10. Having a likable narrator is like having a great friend whose company you love, whose mind you love to pick, whose running commentary totally holds your attention, who makes you laugh out loud, whose lines you always want to steal. (p50)

11. Now, a person's faults are largely what make him or her likable. I like for narrators to be like the people I choose for friends, which is to say that they have a lot of the same flaws as I . ( p50)

12. ⋯⋯they posses a certain clarity of vision- especially if they have survived or are in the process of surviving a great deal. (p51)

13. Plot grows out of character. If you focus on who the people in your story are, if you sit and write about two people you know and are getting to know better day by day, something is bound to happen.  
Characters should not, conversely, serve as pawns for some plot you've dreamed up.

Let what they say or do reveal who they are,and be involved in their lives, and keep asking yourself, now what happened? The development of relationship creates plot. ( p54-55)

14. John Gardner wrote that the writer is creating a dream into which he or she invites the reader, and that the dream must be vivid and continuous. (p57)

15. Drama is the way of holding the reader's attention. The basic formula for drama is setup, buildup, payoff- just like a joke. The setup tells us what the game is. The buildup is where you put in all the moves, the forward motion, where you get the meat off the turkey. The payoff answers the question, why are we here anyway? What is it that you've been trying to give?(p59)

16. Alice Adams said that sometimes she uses a formula when writing a short story, which goes ABDCE, for Action, Background, Development, Climax, and Ending. You begin with action that is compelling enough to draw us in, make us want to know more. Background is where you let us see and know who these people are, how they've come to be together, what was going on before the opening of the story. Then you develop these people, so that we learn what they care most about. The plot - the drama, the actions, the tension-will grow out of that. You move along until everything comes together in the climax, after which things are different for the main characters, different in some real way. And there is the ending: what is our sense of who these people are now, what are they left with, what happened, and what did it mean? (p62)

17. If you are a writer, or want to be a writer, this is how you spend your days- listening, observing, storing things away, making your isolation pay off. (p66)

18. Each character must sound different from the others. And they should not all sound like you; each one must have a self. (p66)

19. Every room gives us layers of information about our past and present and who we are, our shrines and quirks and hopes and sorrows, our attempt to prove that we exist and are more or less okay. (p74)

20. Writing is about learning to pay attention and to communicate what is going on. (p97)

21. If you start to look around, you will start to see. ( p101)

22. When a more or less ordinary character, someone is both kind and self-serving, somehow finds that place within where he or she is still capable of courage and goodness, we get to see something true that we long for. (p106)

23. If you don't believe in what you are saying, there is no point in your saying it. (p106)

24. To be a good writer, you not only have to write a great deal but you have to care. You do not have to have a complicated moral philosophy. But a writer always tries, I think, to be part of the solution, to understand a little life and to pass this one. (p107)

25. Write about the things that are most important to you. (p108)

26. If you don't know which way to go, keep it simple. (p115)

27. I don't think you have time to waste on someone who does not respond to you with kindness and respect. (p170)

28. Writing is about filling up, filling up when you are empty, letting images and ideas and smells run down like water- just as writing is also about dealing with the emptiness. (p170-171)

29. Life is like a recycling center, where all the concerns and dramas of humankind get recycled back and forth across the universe. But what you have to offer is your own sensibility, maybe your own sense of human or insider pathos or meaning.

Everything we need in order to tell our stories in a reasonable and exciting way already exists in each of us. (p181)

30. Old uncle Jesus said, " If you bring forth what is inside you, what you bring forth will save you. (p199)

31. Writing takes a combination of sophistication and innocence; it takes conscience, our belief that something is beautiful cause it's right. To be great, art has to point somewhere. (p205)

32. Becoming a writer is about becoming conscious. When you're conscious and writing from a place of insight and simplicity and real caring  about the truth, you have the ability to throw the lights on for your reader. He or she will recognize his or her life and truth in what you say, in the pictures you have painted, and this decreases the terrible sense of isolation that we have all had too much of.

33. Don't be afraid of your material or your past. Be afraid of wasting any more obsessing about how you look and how people see you.   
If something inside you is real , we will probably find it interesting, and it will probably be universal. (p225-226)

34. This is what separated artists from ordinary people: the belief, deep in our hearts, that if we build or castles well enough, somehow the ocean won't wash them away. I think this is a wonderful kind of person to be. (p231)

35. How alive am I willing to be? (p236)