But, it's not just on those days when my to-do list is killing me that I say "bird by bird" to myself. It's an obvious metaphor, but the future is not unlike a blank page — they are both open to too many possibilities to comprehend.It's why that classic job interview question "Where do you see yourself in five years? But when you break life into pieces, then it becomes more manageable. It's difficult to have the whole picture figured out at once, but you can fill in pieces until it comes together.
But, it's not just on those days when my to-do list is killing me that I say "bird by bird" to myself. It's an obvious metaphor, but the future is not unlike a blank page — they are both open to too many possibilities to comprehend.It's why that classic job interview question "Where do you see yourself in five years? But when you break life into pieces, then it becomes more manageable. It's difficult to have the whole picture figured out at once, but you can fill in pieces until it comes together.Tags: Poetry AssignmentsWrite A Response PaperResearch Paper About ObesityConclusion Outline For EssaySmall Business Entrepreneur DissertationsThings To Write A Descriptive Essay AboutCreative Problem Solving And Engineering DesignEndnotes On A Research PaperMicrofluidics ThesisTrifles Essay Analysis
I am all too familiar with the specific, morbid feeling that I'm going to be physically crushed to death by the emails in my inbox. I realize this is a small problem in the grand scheme of things, but the phrase that gets me through these small moments of stress is the same phrase that gets me through big moments of agonizing grief and pain: "Bird by bird."You probably recognize this ubiquitous mantra from Anne Lamott's the classic guide that can be found on basically every writer's bookshelf.
But that's how it feels — it's overwhelming spiritually, mentally, and yes, physically.
After graduating from college, I was faced with that big, white sheet of paper: Where do I go? So, I filled out countless applications for jobs in publishing, and, while waiting to hear back, spent my time waiting for an opportunity to move to New York City. Finally, I broke it down into steps, and , one at a time. So many others would not have the opportunity to move to New York without a job or an internship or an apartment.
For me, it was possible, but I needed to break it down.
You begin rocking, just a little at first, and then like a huge autistic child.
You look at the ceiling, and over at the clock, yawn, and stare at the paper again.In fact, it’s one of the best books I’ve ever come across on writing. We are a species that needs and wants to understand who we are. Year after year my students are bursting with stories to tell, and they start writing projects with excitement and maybe even joy— finally their voices will be heard, and they are going to get to devote themselves to this one thing they’ve longed to do since childhood. So you sit down at, say, nine every morning, or ten every night.Getting started is often the hardest part of writing. Sheep lice do not seem to share this longing, which is one reason they write so very little. But after a few days at the desk, telling the truth in an interesting way turns out to be about as easy and pleasurable as bathing a cat. You put a piece of paper in the typewriter, or you turn on your computer and bring up the right file, and then you stare at it for an hour or so.When I'm staring at a massive pile of urgent to-do items, I'll take a breath, literally say "bird by bird" out loud, and zero in on one piece of the puzzle.Even if it's something as small as checking my email.It may seem like common sense to break a daunting task into pieces.But Lamott's "bird by bird" story is always just the reminder I need to take things a little more slowly and approach life a little more mindfully.In order to be a writer, you have to learn to be reverent. Think of those times when you’ve read prose or poetry that is presented in such a way that you have a fleeting sense of being startled by beauty or insight, by a glimpse into someone’s soul. You can get into a kind of Wordsworthian openness to the world, where you see in everything the essence of holiness.All of a sudden everything seems to fit together or at least to have some meaning for a moment. The basic formula for drama is setup, buildup, payoff—just like a joke. The buildup is where you put in all the moves, the forward motion, where you get all the meat off the turkey.That tweet from Kathryn Schulz set off my quest to find Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. But more to the point perhaps is the advice of Philip Roth, who said every writer needs “the ability to sit still in the deeply uneventful business,” a comment that Lamott echoes. You try to sit down at approximately the same time every day.If you’ve ever wondered how I find things, this is a perfect example. Lamott’s advice is down to earth, real, and void of any pretentiousness. This is how you train your unconscious to kick in for you creatively.