Study Guide

Bird by Bird Dissatisfaction

By Anne Lamott

Dissatisfaction

You may be surprised to learn this, but Anne Lamott is obviously pretty sold on writing. As she tell us in Bird by Bird, she thinks it will open up your life to awe, help you grasp the truths of being human, let you engage with your community, and make you seriously and obsessively miserable on a regular basis.

Wait, what?

Oh, yeah. Writing is hard work, and there are days when you don't want to do it. There will be stretches of time when you think everything you're writing is crap. Sometimes, it really is crap. But dissatisfaction is just part of the job description—and, double surprise—it can actually inspire you to do even better, more satisfying work. How's that for a paradox?

Questions About Dissatisfaction

  1. What kinds of satisfaction does Lamott think we can gain from writing? What makes writing satisfying in these ways?
  2. What kinds of satisfaction does Lamott think we can't gain from writing? Where does she think we might find them instead?
  3. Does Lamott seem to think the satisfaction she finds in being a writer is worth the dissatisfaction she describes?
  4. How might a dissatisfied writer become a more satisfied writer, based on Lamott's advice?

Chew on This

For Lamott, publication is mostly irrelevant to a lot of the best things writing does for us.

Lamott thinks writing is worth all the hassle because of the changes it causes in the writer as a person.

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