Study Guide

Bird by Bird Dreams, Hopes, and Plans

By Anne Lamott

Dreams, Hopes, and Plans

If you don't have hope, skip being a writer because a lot of the time, it's the only thing you're going to have. In Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott lays it all out about how as a writer, your dreams and plans rarely come true, at least in the way you expected they would. You might never get published. You might spend months or years on a novel and still have it not come together until you do your third rewrite. You'll probably be financially strapped forever, even if you do manage more or less to support yourself. But hey—life itself is kind of like that. Stuff happens. The only thing that'll get you through is a little gumption and a lot of hope.

Questions About Dreams, Hopes, and Plans

  1. What does Lamott mean when she uses the word "hope"?
  2. Why is hope especially important in the writing process, in Lamott's view?
  3. What helps writers—or anyone—find hope? Does Bird by Bird give us any clues about that?

Chew on This

For Lamott, hope isn't a passive wish for something to happen; it's an active way of working toward that goal.

Bird by Bird shows us that we often hope for the wrong things (like fame or publication) but we can learn to hope for better things (like growth or finding out how much we enjoy writing in and of itself).

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