Study Guide

Bird by Bird Broccoli

By Anne Lamott


So, yeah, of course broccoli and intuition are the same thing.

Just ask Anne Lamott.

Okay, that's not exactly what she says, but she does use broccoli as a symbol for listening to your intuition. Lamott cites Mel Brooks as her inspiration. She says that in one comedy routine of his, a psychiatrist tells his patient, "Listen to your broccoli, and your broccoli will tell you how to eat it" (16.1).

Lamott uses this line as a reminder to listen to your intuition: when you're stuck as a writer, it's best to quiet down and listen for a still, small voice inside. Lots of people got in trouble for listening to their intuitions as children and have never recovered, according to Lamott, and writers need to learn how to trust their unconscious minds to come up with good stuff.

This is a big deal for Lamott because for her, writing is about telling the truth, or at least the best truth you know. You've got to listen to yourself and be honest with yourself if you hope to do that.

To sum up, Lamott says she needs a ridiculous metaphor to help her calm down and not try to control her intuition too much (16.9). We'd say she's found the right one.

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