Study Guide

Bird by Bird Literature and Writing

By Anne Lamott

Literature and Writing

We know you're shocked: Bird by Bird, a book subtitled "Some Instructions on Writing and Life," is about writing. So, just like it says on the cover, Anne Lamott has a lot to say about writing and reading, and how they both intertwine with life—especially her life, which includes a professional writer father who inspires her to become a writer herself. But Lamott is also big on the idea that writing and reading aren't just for professionals—they're for anyone who cares about knowing him- or herself better or exploring the world, and they can make anyone's life richer, even if that person isn't a published author.

Questions About Literature and Writing

  1. What does writing do for us? Is it all about ending up as rich as Stephenie Meyer, or is there some other role writing plays in our lives?
  2. What role does community play in writing? Is the writer best as a super solitary type, or do the best writers reach out to others?
  3. How do writers actually get writing done? Does it pour out in mad fits of inspiration, or does it involve lots of work, day after day?

Chew on This

For Lamott, writing involves community.

Writing is a lot more important to Lamott than publishing because writing itself is what lets the writer grow and understand the world better.

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