43 Folders

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43Folders.com is Merlin Mann’s website about finding the time and attention to do your best creative work.

Anne Lamott

Happy Birthday, Anne Lamott

Anne Lamott

I learned via the Writer's Almanac that today is the birthday of the Bay Area novelist and non-fiction writer, Anne Lamott.

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Anne Lamott: Put the puppy back on the paper

I’ve previously mentioned Bay-area writer Anne Lamott in the context of her fondness for index cards and her belief in the importance of capturing ideas at the moment they come to you (it’s something I also really believe in). It’s fun to hear her talk about this stuff, too. She has a discursive speaking style that’s, by turns, insightful, frustrating, and very funny.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been reading her book Bird by Bird a section or two at a time whenever I have a few minutes, and I have to say, it’s one of the most inspiring books I’ve read in a long time.

As a guide for young or aspiring writers, I’d put it up there with On Writing Well and Writing Down the Bones in terms of practical, really useful advice. She strips away so much of the pretense and BS about the writing process and encourages you to just start writing—focusing on small assignments (all you need to do is fill a 1″x1″ picture frame with words) and what she calls “the shitty first draft.” Great stuff.

But I think some of the most amazing passages in the book have little to do with writing, per se. It’s all about how we choose to look at the world and ourselves.

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Anne Lamott on index cards

Lots of people had been suggesting I read Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird (subtitled “Some Instructions on Writing and Life”) becaues she mentions how much she loves and relies on index cards for more than just composition.

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An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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