My very favorite writing craft book is one recommended to me by several people when I first voiced that I wanted to write a novel. Anne Lemott’s Bird by Bird is a uniquely styled writing manual that stole my heart. I loved the playfulness, the sense of humanity and forgiveness that she injected into the advice and challenges for growth as a writer.
Bird by Bird was the book that introduced me to the concept of shitty 1st drafts. This was essential to confronting my huge initial block and massive inner critic that would not allow me to write out the ideas in my mind. When I read her tip on this concept, it clicked deeply for me. I needed to release the pressure of thinking every sentence had to be flawless. The concept of shitty 1st drafts released me to actually create first, not critique first.
I also love a poem that is featured in the book that is so perfect in confronting the doubts of the inner critic. To summarize the poem, which I highly recommend reading in full here (LINK), the writer says, really, are you so fearful and paranoid that you think even your friends get together behind your back to talk about how much they actually hate you? It’s comical and human as I have had those thoughts that come from a deep well of insecurity. (A writing shero of mine, Mindy Khaling, also talks comically about crippling insecurity in her wonderful book, Is Everybody Hanging out Without Me).
Annie Lemott’s book is like a warm friend who believes in your creativity and wants you to feel good about being a writer. I highly recommend it and feel it was my early secret weapon in becoming a confident writer!
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