A famous piece of writing advice from author Anne Lamott is simply to write “bird by bird”. The saying references a quote her father gave her brother who was struggling to begin a major report on birds that should have been started long before. “Bird by bird,” he said, encouraging him to write about one bird at a time and assemble them into a paper.

“Bird by bird” is great advice, not only for writing but for most things. You prepare department-wide budgets bird by bird. Plan elaborate weddings. Deliver a comprehensive proposal. Complete income taxes. Become a minimalist. Finish an expense report. Pack a household to move. Change systems. It all happens one “bird” at a time.

Instead of feeling overwhelmed the next time a significant task faces you, remember Lamott’s powerful advice. Describing the aviary may seem daunting, but one bird you can handle.

Source: Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott, 1995

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