Study Guide

Bird by Bird What's Up With the Title?

By Anne Lamott

What's Up With the Title?

Yeah, this title sounds a little loopy to start with. What is this, an ad for a Discovery Channel special? Read a bit further, though, and you'll start to realize what a great title this is. It's based on a story Anne Lamott tells about her brother—one most high schoolers can identify with.

Once, when Lamott's older brother was 10, he was struggling to write a report on birds. The teacher had given the class three months to write it, so it was hardly a surprise assignment, but this kid procrastinated. Like, big time: he waited until the day before it was due to start it. He totally panicked. Lamott's father, a writer, put his arm around his son's shoulders and said, "Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird" (2.5).

Here's why this is a great title for this book: it's about a friendly, experienced writer helping out a younger writer in a pinch. The advice the more experienced writer gives is to break a seemingly impossible task down into a series of small steps.

In Bird by Bird, that's exactly what Anne Lamott does for us.

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