Thinking Like a Writer

It sits on my desk, keeps me company, and it’s one of the best and most inspirational books I’ve read.  Bird by Bird by the amazing Anne Lamott provides “Some Instructions on Writing and Life.”  

Besides Anne’s amazing insights that come from real writing and life experience (seasoned with fantastic humor), I found the book helpful when I am stuck, when I am not sure a particular morning of writing is going too well.  In fact, most mornings are difficult, hard to wrap my head around the writing.  When that happens, Bird by Bird is one of several books I open, read a few lines, and I’m back on track.

If I cannot possibly get back on track, even after reading those lines, and no matter what I try, simply does not work, and I see my fingers hover over the keyboard, muted.  Then I take one of her pieces of advice that are just genius. They really work!  

One of the most insightful revelations for me was about when things don’t go well, and how it’s just ok sometimes to do something else, until your thoughts settle enough and you can go back to your work, all refreshed and ready.  The ideas sometimes come when you don’t expect them too, on a walk, while taking a bath.  And then you have this moment in which you run to your desk, because something happens in your brain that simply cannot wait, you put it down on an index card, and…  You’re on track again.

Anne’s advice about index cards has been the most life changing for me.  I buy them in bulk now, different colors, I love the 4×6 size, and I just scribble away whatever comes to my mind.  You just never know when you’ll use it, or where it would lead.

So if you are like me, you get stuck often, you stare at your computer screen or notebook, and nothing happens.  It may not help to tell you not to panic, but it might help you to open Anne’s book and read a few lines.  The ideas will flow, your fingers will type words and sentences, Bird by Bird, you’ll get your writing done.

“One of the things that happens when you give yourself permission to start writing is that you start thinking like a writer. You start seeing everything as material.” ~Anne Lamott

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