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Bird by Bird

Bird by Bird by Jon Clue of Black Rabbit Tattoo

I promised myself I’d get this tattoo after I finished my Bird's Eye View book. So in mid-October of 2019, that’s exactly what I did. (Yes, I have a lot of Bird references in my life. My last name is the hint as to why that might be. I also co-own a health communications company called Bird Communications).

The phrase Bird by Bird comes from the book Bird by Bird, Some Instructions on Writing and Life. This is Anne Lamott’s classic book about writing. I read it eons ago.

In it she says:

Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report written on birds that he’d had three months to write, which was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books about birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, “Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.

This Bird by Bird philosophy applies to any form of storytelling: putting together a research paper, preparing a presentation or writing in a personal journal. This philosophy sums up my entire Bachelor's degree in English.

People ask me – how do you write a book? I leaned on Anne’s wisdom. She says first get your butt in the chair. Then she advises to crank out a shitty first draft. (Everything starts with a shitty first draft). Then you write it Bird by Bird, one bird, one word, at a time.


This essay was written in support of my Bird's Eye View Course Content, Module 3, Lesson Plan 1 called Crafting a Good Story.

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