“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor.”
— Anne Lamott
Anne Lamott (@AnneLamott) uses honesty, empathy, and humor to write about our world. In her beloved and bestselling books, like Operating Instructions (an account of her son’s first year), Bird by Bird (her classic book on writing), and Help, Thanks, Wow (a celebration of prayer), Lamott delves into what makes us human. She explores the wide experience of life that unites us: birth and death, parenthood and family, faith and doubt, love and loss, forgiveness and hope.
In each of her 19 books, which have sold millions of copies worldwide, Lamott brings her distinctive mix of bracing candor, clarifying insight, and refreshing humor to convert serious subjects like addiction, motherhood, loss, and faith into human truths we can all share. She is the author of several essay collections on faith, including Traveling Mercies, Grace (Eventually), and Plan B, as well as several novels, including Imperfect Birds, Blue Shoe, and Rosie.
Lamott has been honored with a Guggenheim Fellowship and has taught at UC Davis and writing conferences across the country. She is an inductee of the California Hall of Fame and the subject of Academy Award-winning filmmaker Freida Mock’s documentary Bird by Bird with Annie (1999).
Her most recent book is Dusk, Night, Dawn: On Revival and Courage.
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What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.
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Want to hear an episode with someone else who might not have written their first book had it not been for the guidance of Anne’s Bird by Bird? Listen to my conversation with Ramit Sethi in which we discuss savvy negotiation, renting versus owning property, sensible financial decisions that seem frivolous at first glance, game-changing conveniences and lifestyle upgrades, the pros and cons of the prenuptial agreement, reducing decision fatigue, and much more!
SELECTED LINKS FROM THE EPISODE
- Connect with Anne Lamott:
Twitter | Facebook | Instagram
- Dusk, Night, Dawn: On Revival and Courage by Anne Lamott | Amazon
- Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son’s First Year by Anne Lamott | Amazon
- Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott | Amazon
- Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers by Anne Lamott | Amazon
- Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lamott | Amazon
- Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lamott | Amazon
- Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lamott | Amazon
- Imperfect Birds by Anne Lamott | Amazon
- Blue Shoe by Anne Lamott | Amazon
- Bird by Bird with Anne | Prime Video
- The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich by Timothy Ferriss | Amazon
- I Will Teach You to Be Rich: No Guilt. No Excuses. No B.S. Just a 6-Week Program That Works by Ramit Sethi | Amazon
- Shapes of Truth: Discover God Inside You by Neal Allen | Amazon
- 13 Writing Tips, From Beloved Teacher Anne Lamott | Ideas.TED.com
- Reaganomics | Investopedia
- Psalm 23 KJV | Bible Gateway
- Gary Busey on FEAR | I’m with Busey
- How Anne Lamott Got Sober | Big Think
- The Farbers Meet The Coneheads | SNL
- Why Hasn’t the Tenderloin Gentrified Like the Rest of San Francisco? | KQED
- The Power of Myth — The Hero’s Adventure with Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers | The Tim Ferriss Show #456
- Hello Humans
- Finding Grace with Paul Williams | How to Human
- Anne Lamott: 12 Truths I Learned from Life and Writing | TED 2017
- Yes, Impostor Syndrome Is Real: Here’s How to Deal With It | Time
- Always Be Closing Speech by Alec Baldwin | Glengarry Glen Ross
- King Kong (1976) | Prime Video
- Me, the Overly Sensitive Child by Anne Lamott | Salon
- Tom Weston’s Five Rules of Being A Grown-Up | Mockingbird
- A Simple Way to Unplug When You Think You Can’t | Chatsworth Consulting Group
- Hugh Hefner’s Vision with Playboy Not Only Degraded Women, It Also Dehumanized Men | Quartz
- What is OCD? | International OCD Foundation
- Marrow: A Love Story by Elizabeth Lesser | Amazon
- Awakening the Best in the Human Spirit | Omega
- MSNBC News
- Get Lit!: 10 Questions with Author Anne Lamott | The Pacific Northwest Inlander
- Wind-Up Dentures | Amazon
- Some Practical Thoughts on Suicide | Tim Ferriss
- EOTW No.3 – The Bridge by Sam Lamott | Hello Humans
- The Mathematical Madness of Möbius Strips and Other One-Sided Objects | Smithsonian Magazine
- Do You Own Their Story, Too? | The Writing Cooperative
- Maya Lin – A Strong Clear Vision | Amazon
- Why Do We Hate the Sound of Our Own Voices? | The Conversation
- The Little Black Boy by William Blake | Poetry Foundation
- The Opposite of Love Is Not Hate, But Indifference | Quote Investigator
- Anne Lamott Talks ‘Dusk, Night, Dawn’ | The Washington Post
- Golden-Crowned Sparrow | Audubon Field Guide
- The Gentle Gift of Mercy by Anne Lamott | Ideas.TED.com
- What is Internal Family Systems? | IFS Institute
- Almost Everything: Notes on Hope by Anne Lamott | Amazon
- Climate Change | United Nations
- Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez
- One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
- Definitions of Twilight | National Weather Service
- ‘Show Up With Hope’: Anne Lamott’s Plan for Facing Adversity | National Geographic
- Through Love by Rumi | PoetryVerse
- The Mission | Prime Video
- The Godfather | Prime Video
- Spirited Away (English Language) | Prime Video
- The 4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat Loss, Incredible Sex and Becoming Superhuman by Tim Ferriss | Amazon
- Shaun of the Dead | Prime Video
- The Bourne Identity | Prime Video
- Casino Royale | Prime Video
- Babe | Prime Video
- A Prophet (Un prophète) | Prime Video
- My Octopus Teacher | Netflix
- Bab’Aziz | Prime Video
- If it weren’t for Bird by Bird, Anne’s book on writing, I may have never written my first book — and I know others who say the same. What is it about Bird by Bird that has affected so many people so deeply? [06:41]
- Where did the title of Bird by Bird originate? [10:10]
- How Anne’s husband, fellow writer Neal Allen, works to help people tame (but not discard) their inner critic. [12:44]
- Who controls the dial when you’re tuned in to KFKD radio? [13:59]
- For my fiction-writing aspirations, Anne recommends a butt-in-chair approach and explains how her childhood with a writing father in the house instilled this discipline in her — but not without a heavily dysfunctional toll she’s spent her life learning to take back. [15:06]
- What does being “spiritually fit” mean to Anne? [22:25]
- Was there a particular catalyzing event that brought radical self-care into focus as an imperative for Anne? [28:05]
- The dark night that turned Anne’s son Sam’s life around. [35:50]
- An episode of Sam’s podcast I recently enjoyed immensely and recommend. [41:32]
- When grace found Anne during her three-day blackout, and what it felt like. [42:35]
- Coming to terms with childhood “oversensitivity” and Tom Weston’s five rules for being a grown-up that changed Anne’s life. [47:41]
- From her own work, are there any lines, concepts, or passages that jump out for Anne as being definitive of her life philosophy? How would she follow her own advice in this instance? [51:01]
- Anne sets the record straight with a Tom Weston quote that often gets misattributed to her. [56:34]
- What has been helpful in treating Anne’s anxiety disorder? [57:20]
- Where did Anne pick up her habit of writing in silence, and what other rules and rewards does she attach to her process? [1:02:29]
- How recalling just one vivid, life-changing instance from my college days might be used as a writing exercise, and Anne’s new “pod” trick. [1:06:19]
- What to remind yourself if you’re tempted to spare the feelings of others who feature in your autobiographical scrawlings. [1:11:13]
- If you’re a writer struggling to find your story’s direction, these are the questions Anne recommends asking the characters who inhabit that story in order to keep the words flowing. [1:13:22]
- What was it like for Anne to have a documentary made about her (by an Academy Award-winning director, no less), and why did she agree to do it in spite of her discomfort over being captured on film? [1:19:24]
- Anne explains the meaning and unlikely origin of what she considers to be the greatest prayer, and what its gift really is. [1:24:24]
- Does Anne pray as needed, or per a set routine? What is the purpose of these prayers? [1:30:24]
- Who is “Horrible” Bonnie, how did she enter Anne’s life, what wisdom has she imparted to Anne, and what earned her such a memorable moniker? [1:34:49]
- How did Anne arrive at Dusk, Night, Dawn: On Revival and Courage as the title of her new book? [1:41:12]
- A writing prayer. [1:45:07]
- We share our all-time favorite movies. [1:46:59]
- Parting thoughts and a final, quick story about grace and goodness. [1:53:48]
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