Notes: Bird by Bird

By: Anne Lamott

How strongly I recommend it: 8/10

Apa rasanya kalau kita sedang membaca buku bagus? Kita selalu bawa buku itu kemana-mana, dan kalau ada waktu luang sedikit saja kita alan sempatkan itu untuk lanjut membaca beberapa halaman. Mungkin sambil berjalan atau saat sedang makan.

Buku ini termasuk yang melakukan itu pada saya. Apalagi uniknya ini buku tentang menulis, pengalaman, dan proses kreatif di dalamnya. Sepertinya ini termasuk buku yang akan selalu saya baca ulang. Dan buku seperti ini nggak banyak. Highly recommend untuk yang suka menulis.

Kutipan-kutipan yang menarik saya kumpulkan disini.

Ceritakan apa adanya dengan apa yang kita punya dan bagaimana diri kita melihatnya.

Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don’t give up.

The very first thing I tell my new students on the first day of a workshop is that good writing is about telling the truth.

Mulai bangun kebiasaan menulis.

You sit down, I say. You try to sit down at approximately the same time every day. This is how you train your unconscious to kick in for you creatively. So you sit down at, say, nine every morning, or ten every night. 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.

I wish I felt that kind of inspiration more often. I almost never do. All I know is that if I sit there long enough, something will happen.

Merasa kesulitan / struggle itu normal. Dan kuncinya adalah, lakukan pelan-pelan, satu per satu.

Writing can be a pretty desperate endeavor, because it is about some of our deepest needs: our need to be visible, to be heard, our need to make sense of our lives, to wake up and grow and belong.

Say to yourself in the kindest possible way, Look, honey, all we’re going to do for now is to write a description of the river at sunrise, or the young child swimming in the pool at the club, or the first time the man sees the woman he will marry. That is all we are going to do for now. We are just going to take this bird by bird. But we are going to finish this one short assignment.

Make the shitty first draft. Mulai aja, dari manapun, dan tujuannya untuk menyelesaikan draftnya, bukan nulis sesuatu yang bagus.

Now, practically even better news than that of short assignments is the idea of shitty first drafts. All good writers write them. This is how they end up with good second drafts and terrific third drafts.

Very few writers really know what they are doing until they’ve done it.

For me and most of the other writers I know, writing is not rapturous. In fact, the only way I can get anything written at all is to write really, really shitty first drafts.

Writing a first draft is very much like watching a Polaroid develop. You can’t—and, in fact, you’re not supposed to—know exactly what the picture is going to look like until it has finished developing.

You couldn’t have had any way of knowing what this piece of work would look like when you first started. You just knew that there was something about these people that compelled you, and you stayed with that something long enough for it to show you what it was about.

Tentang sifat perfeksionis.

Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft.

What people somehow (inadvertently, I’m sure) forgot to mention when we were children was that we need to make messes in order to find out who we are and why we are here—and, by extension, what we’re supposed to be writing.

I heard Natalie Goldberg, the author of Writing Down the Bones, speak on writing once. Someone asked her for the best possible writing advice she had to offer, and she held up a yellow legal pad, pretended her fingers held a pen, and scribbled away.

Tentang Tulisannya, tentang plot dan narasi yang bagus.

I once asked Ethan Canin to tell me the most valuable thing he knew about writing, and without hesitation he said, “Nothing is as important as a likable narrator. Nothing holds a story together better.”

I tell my students to write this down—that the dream must be vivid and continuous—because it is so crucial.

“Wait just a minute—I’ve never shot drugs with Rosalyn Carter, and I don’t even own any horses, let alone little Arabians the size of cats.” You mostly go along from scene to scene simply because it’s all so immediate and compelling.

If someone isn’t changed, then what is the point of your story? For the climax, there must be a killing or a healing or a domination. It can be a real killing, a murder, or it can be a killing of the spirit, or of something terrible inside one’s soul, or it can be a killing of a deadness within,

There is a real skill to hearing all those words that real people—and your characters—say and to recording what you have heard—and the latter is or should be more interesting and concise and even more true than what was actually said. Dialogue is more like a movie than it is like real life, since it should be more dramatic.

Bikin dialog yang bagus itu menantang.

If you are a writer, or want to be a writer, this is how you spend your days—listening, observing, storing things away, making your isolation pay off. You take home all you’ve taken in, all that you’ve overheard, and you turn it into gold. (Or at least you try.)

Writing is about learning to pay attention and to communicate what is going on.

I honestly think in order to be a writer, you have to learn to be reverent. If not, why are you writing? Why are you here?

If you find that you start a number of stories or pieces that you don’t ever bother finishing, that you lose interest or faith in them along the way, it may be that there is nothing at their center about which you care passionately.

You need to put yourself at their center, you and what you believe to be true or right.

If you have a message, as Samuel Goldwyn said, send a telegram.

However, if you do care deeply about something—if, for instance, you are conservative in the great sense of the word, if you are someone who is trying to conserve the landscape and the natural world—then this belief will keep you going as you struggle to get your work done.

But a writer always tries, I think, to be a part of the solution, to understand a little about life and to pass this on.

Take the attitude that what you are thinking and feeling is valuable stuff, and then be naive enough to get it all down on paper. But be careful: if your intuition says that your story sucks, make sure it really is your intuition and not your mother.

Writing is about hypnotizing yourself into believing in yourself, getting some work done, then unhypnotizing yourself and going over the material coldly. #noted

I have index cards and pens all over the house—by the bed, in the bathroom, in the kitchen, by the phones, and I have them in the glove compartment of my

My index-card life is not efficient or well organized. Hostile, aggressive students insist on asking what I do with all my index cards.

Index cards nggak harus rapi.

Write that person’s name at the top of the page, and then in your first line, explain that you are going to tell them part of your story, entrust it to them, because this part of your life meant so much to you.

Salah satu trik nulis anggap sedang nulis surat.

“Why, though?” my students ask, staring at me intently. “Why are we supposed to open all these doors? Why are we supposed to tell the truth in our own voice?” And I stare back at them for a moment. I guess because it’s our nature, I say.

Annie Dillard has said that day by day you have to give the work before you all the best stuff you have, not saving up for later projects. If you give freely, there will always be more.

Give it all.

Your three-year-old and your work in progress teach you to give. They teach you to get out of yourself and become a person for someone else. This is probably the secret to happiness. So that’s one reason to write. Your child and your work hold you hostage, suck you dry, ruin your sleep, mess with your head, treat you like dirt, and then you discover they’ve given you that gold nugget you were looking for all along.


In the beginning, when you’re first starting out, there are a million reasons not to write, to give up. That is why it is of extreme importance to make a commitment to finishing sections and stories, to driving through to the finish.

kenapa finishing itu penting dan akhirnya akan ada kepuasan teresendiri kalau terbayar.

Sometimes you have to be that innocent to be a writer. Writing takes a combination of sophistication and innocence; it takes conscience, our belief that something is beautiful because it’s right. To be great, art has to point somewhere.

Inti kenapa harus menulis

Exploring and understanding your childhood will give you the ability to empathize, and that understanding and empathy will teach you to write with intelligence and insight and compassion.

Kenapa berguna nulis tentang masa kecil.

Try to write in a directly emotional way, instead of being too subtle or oblique. Don’t be afraid of your material or your past. Be afraid of wasting any more time obsessing about how you look and how people see you. Be afraid of not getting your writing done.

This is what separates artists from ordinary people: the belief, deep in our hearts, that if we build our castles well enough, somehow the ocean won’t wash them away. I think this is a wonderful kind of person to be.

In this dark and wounded society, writing can give you the pleasures of the woodpecker, of hollowing out a hole in a tree where you can build your nest and say, “This is my niche, this is where I live now, this is where I belong.”

Be the first to know when I create something new.
Join my newsletter.