What do you think?

Dear widely read friends – have any of you ever read

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, by Anne Lamott

and/or

The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron

I have jut started both, and would love to hear your thoughts & opinions


8 thoughts on “What do you think?

  1. actually, I did the Artist’s Way thing. it’s not easy, it takes a special kind of courage, but it is worth it. I can’t say I’m still writing the morningpages, but the process of writing morning pages for weeks helped me get closer to myself. I was a big worrier, I was never very sure about my self, the choices I made. after the Artist’s Way, I was. sure about myself. well, surer.

    however, you don’t really need to do the entire thing, the text is wonderful as it is. I still dip in every now and then, it’s really inspiring.

    the book by Anne Lamott I haven’t read.

    recommendation: I’m a big fan of Natalie Goldbergs Writing Down the Bones, it’s a bit zen which I think you’re rather interested in? Writing Down the Bones is my favorite book about writing so far.

  2. I have read both books. Lamott is funny and offers some practical approaches through the anecdotes she provides regarding her own writing process. I liked her book, but I wouldn’t say it helped my own process so much as amused me and reminded me that writing is hard work and each of us finds a unique way to carry on! The main point is just get started–put the words on paper (bird by bird).

    I liked Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones but did not care for her follow-up books. Again, the books is about the process itself–as is Cameron’s book. That’s where the value of these books lies: in reminding writers that the creative process is indeed a process and that it changes, evolves, and can be acted upon and transformed in many ways.

    Cameron’s book is a classic. I return to it again and again.

    1. Thank you Ann!
      I start to get a feeling that structure & discipline is much more important in the writers life than I ever imagined. (I actually didn’t think much about this more practical part of the writers life before I started writing myself).

      I have so much to learn – !

      1. I am with Ann, point by point including Goldberg. As to your point about structure and discipline, I could not agree more. In particular, in my initial writing, I had not considered the structure of a novel or short story, which is not to say I did not know the structure but did not have that structure foremost in my mind when I wrote. When I wrote the initial draft of a novel, I understood what “writing by the seat of one’s pants” can produce, in my case a lot of rambling that was, ultimately, not worth revision.

        That said, there are many successful writers who do just sit down and write but I discovered I am not one of those. As for discipline, I discovered that I must write regularly, every day if possible, so I remain comfortable in my writing. If I take more than a day away, there is an awkwardness, a stiffness in my writing and essentially, I spend more time trying to get to where I was than if I had just taken a few minutes write each day.

        Again, just my experience but thank you for raising such interesting questions.

        Karen

  3. Thank you Karen!
    I discovered, when getting an office away from home this summer, that the assurance of having some uninterrupted hours in front of me was an enormous relief, and made me more productive. Being away from home also stopped me from doing all the “practical, necessary, useful” stuff I used to fill my days with – instead of writing or reading. I still get the most important things around the house done – but I don’t spend all day doing it!

    I think its good for me, for my family, and for my work.

  4. Hi Sigrun,
    I’m woefully late on replying to this post — forgive me. 😦

    I really do like Bird by Bird — it has been so helpful to me this year as I’ve begun my novel. I think developing an appreciation for it depends on where you’re at as a writer — I know I started the book a couple of years ago and didn’t finish it, because I wasn’t ready. Still, Anne Lamott’s voice is such an encouraging bracer when faced with any writing task. Many years ago when living in San Francisco I was privileged to see her speak at a literary event and have followed her ever since. She’s one of the good ones.

    Also while living in San Francisco, I read and worked through Cameron’s book. I liked it as it got me writing and thinking and it did stretch me, gave me some confidence. But it also was limited — I think it hid me from taking the real plunge which I have since taken with my work by keeping me focused on the writing tasks. I’m not much for journaling, so the morning pages didn’t work for me in the long run. Now, if I write in the morning, I work on my novel. It’s a more efficient use of my time. But I think — as I said — it depends on where you’re at and what you need. Still, her words on living a creative life and affirmations are worth pondering.

    Have you started either book? Can’t remember if I’ve seen anything come across about them from you lately. I’d be interested to know how you’re experiencing them. 🙂

    1. Thank you Angela! I’m in the middle of things – all the time – so here there is no such things as a late reply 🙂

      I find writing for the sake of writing (not for any rational economical reason) to be a bit of a challenge, so Cameron’s advice on seeing yourself as an artist (right from the start ) is important to me, because it helps me protect my writing-time, even if there are always lots of more obvious necessary things to do.

      For three weeks now I have done the morning pages, getting up at 5:45 – securing some writing-space before my day begins, checking in to see if my voice is still there. I hate it & I like it. Ideological speaking, it seems to me that Cameron holds a more positivistic (even romantic?) view on art than me. But even so I find her advices and assignments very helpful.

      At present I have had just a quick look at Bird by Bird, I will continue – its matter of time –

      Thank you so much for your assessment of these books! I might do like you – using the two of them in different parts of my writing.

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