Friday, November 11, 2005
For law students who ride an emotional roller coaster or suffer serious pyschological stress whenever they have a major writing assignment due, a great book to recommend is Bird by Bird, by author Anne Lamott.
At first students have trouble believing that a book about writing can be immensely entertaining. They also think they've already heard all the possible "how-to" tips out there on avoiding procrastination, perfectionism, and writers block. And they doubt that an author who teaches creative writing can help them.
Creative writers do have to understand how to create characters and plots. Legal writers have it easier: our characters and plots walk right in the door. So I tell my students they can just skip Lamott's chapters on characters and plot.
The rest of the book inevitably leaves my students feeling a lot better about the writing process, with new tools at the ready to make that process less angst-ridden. Every time I've been able to persuade a law student to read Bird by Bird, they've come back to thank me. It's often time well spent in the break between semesters. (spl)