Great advice on writing (and life)

I’ve been reading a fantastic book called Bird by bird by Anne Lamott. It’s possibly the best thing I’ve  read on the art (and angst) of writing.

It’s not a traditional instruction on writing, just an excellent collection of thoughts on the process of writing (which are – as it turns out – instructional as well). Lamott talks about why people write, and what really matters in the creative process.

She writes beautifully, soulfully, and with lots of dark humour. I love it. (Thanks to my editor, who recommended this gem.)

Reading it is like eating a tasty, nourishing meal. Every mouthful is wonderful, and I want to slow down and take my time because each chapter gives me something new to think about – not necessarily about the book I’m working on, but my own creative process and what’s important to me when I write.

It’s not a new book, but anyone who’s even half serious about writing will have more than one moment where they close their eyes and think ‘thank God, it’s not just me…’

There are some great bits of advice throughout the book, and I’ll share some of them in future posts. First up, thought, is a quote Lamott includes early on in the book that really resonated with me, from American author E.L. Doctorow:

Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.’

It’s great advice for writing and, I think, for life.


  1. paulaweston says:

    Thanks Sandy. I’ve heard great things about Stephen King’s book, so I’m definitely keen to have a read. Thanks for the excellent review. 🙂

  2. Hi Paula,
    The book sounds like one I’d enjoy reading! Always looking for more advice on writing! Have you read Stephen King’s “On Writing: a Memoir of the Craft”?
    I first heard about this book from a fellow writer on a water taxi to Macleay Island.
    I had only ever read a couple of Stephen King’s books and must admit they weren’t really my cup of tea. However this book passed my first test – it grabbed me in less than five pages! Actually, it had me hooked at the end of the first page, so I purchased it and settled in for a good read.
    I don’t know what I expected, but certainly nothing like this – it was a writing book that was autobiographical and gave no illusions about the disappointments that can be faced by aspiring authors. It was by no means discouraging – just stated the highs and lows as experienced by the illustrious Mr King.
    It was easy to read, entertaining and progressed quickly through a series of anecdotes about the author’s early struggle to gain recognition, to his current status as one of the world’s foremost fiction writers.
    Along the way he opens his “toolbox” and demonstrates the tools necesssary for good writing. His advice is practical, powerful, straight forward and pulls no punches.
    This book was so entertaining I couldn’t put it down. I found myself stirring the pasta sauce with one hand while turning the pages of this book with the other, all the while chuckling away to the curious glances of my family. After all, how could a book about writing be so hilarious?
    The master storyteller draws you into his world and carries you along with him through the highs and lows. I was enjoying that world so much I didn’t want the journey to end. I came away with a new respect for this gifted man and an increased desire to write and keep writing.
    In Mr. King’s own words,
    “This is a short book because most books about writing are filled with bullshit.”
    This one isn’t!
    I have a copy if you’d like to read it sometime.

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About Me

I’m the author of the Rephaim series and The Undercurrent.

For my day job, I’m a writer-journalist-professional communicator, where my writing involves a lot less profanity.

I grew up in regional South Australia and now live in the Scenic Rim with my husband and a retired greyhound.

If you’re interested in how I came to land a publishing deal, you can read the short version in this post from August 2011. There’s a longer version (in a guest post) here.

Paula Weston

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