Monday, January 9, 2012

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

These days, I'm working on a rough draft of a new novel. The toughest thing for me is that I have a brutal inner editor. The needling kind who reads over my shoulder and whispers constant insults until I end up spending three hours on three sentences.

That's no way to write a novel. So this month, as part of my long list of New Year's Resolutions, I'm attempting to kick that little guy out of the room. As my inspiration, I've been revisiting Anne Lamott's book on writing, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life.

Yesterday, I came across this quote that I particularly loved. It's helpful to know that all writers (probably all human beings) have that rotten inner editor. It also made me laugh...a helpful reminder to loosen up and have fun with the process.

“I know some very great writers, writers you love who write beautifully and have made a great deal of money, and not one of them sits down routinely feeling wildly enthusiastic and confident. Not one of them writes elegant first drafts. All right, one of them does, but we do not like her very much. We do not think that she has a rich inner life or that God likes her or can even stand her. (Although when I mentioned this to my priest friend Tom, he said that you can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.)”


Melanie said...

Such a great book! My college bff sent it to me while I was finishing up my thesis for graduate school. I don't know about you but I can't really write on the computer (it's pen & yellow legal pads for me) - that delete button is far to available. Best of luck, Josie!

Anonymous said...

Good post. I love the writing process - but only when I'm in my right mind ;-)and I am hoping I can start a book as well. I have penned two songs so far, and a friend really inspired me from my hometown who finished his first novel, Equals and Allies and is starting his second. Good going, and be inspired by the light.

Josephine Cameron said...

Melanie: I'm impressed with your pen & legal pad process! I work on plot and character notes on paper, but when it comes to writing drafts, I hit the keyboard. But you're right, the delete button is *so* easy to hit. And there's something so cozy and inviting about pen and paper!

Supermansuperstar: You can do it! I hope you keep up the songwriting as well.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the timely reminder! (I, too, am working on a revision.) I love BIRD BY BIRD and reread it frequently. I think it's time for me to read it again!

Josephine Cameron said...

Hi Debbi! It's one of those books that's definitely worth re-reading every now and then. Thanks for stopping by & good luck with your revision!