Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury
I have admired Ray Bradbury’s writing for several decades now, so it was natural that I would love Zen in the Art of Writing: Essays on Creativity. Bradbury always writes from the heart, and this collection of writing advice is no exception. Here’s what I’m talking about:
You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.
Zest. Gusto. How rarely one hears these words used. How rarely do we see people living, or for that matter, creating by them. Yet if I were asked to name the most important items in a writer’s make-up, the things that shape his materials and rush him along the road to where he wants to go, I could only warn him to look to his zest, see to his gusto.
One-thousand or two-thousand words every day for the next twenty years. At the start, you might shoot for one short story a week, fifty-two stories a year, for five years. You will have to write and put away or burn a lot of material before you are comfortable in this medium. You might as well start now and get the necessary work done.
Bradbury’s essays shine with energy, joy, and writerly encouragement. In short, they have zest and gusto. Reading Zen in the Art of Writing is like having your own personal writing cheerleader. Bradbury comes across so personable, so friendly, so ordinary, that you come to believe that you–an ordinary person yourself–could actually write something worth reading.
Bradbury encourages the writer to mine the deep caverns of childhood memories, to make lists of nouns that resonate in the chambers of the soul, and to create titles that spark a story.
- “The Joy of Writing” – 1973
- “Run Fast, Stand Still, or The Thing at the Top of the Stairs, or New Ghosts from Old Minds” – 1986
- “How to Keep and Feed a Muse” – 1961
- “Drunk, and in Charge of a Bicycle” – 1980
- “Investing Dimes: Fahrenheit 451” – 1982
- “Just This Side of Byzantium: Dandelion Wine” – 1974
- “The Long Road to Mars” – 1990
- “On the Shoulders of Giants…” – 1939, re-edited in 1980
- “The Secret Mind” – 1965
- “Shooting Haiku in a Barrel” – 1982
- “Zen in the Art of Writing” – 1973
I’ll be re-reading this book again and again as I try to keep and feed my own writing muse. If the writing flame in you has become an ember, or if you’re trying to get the fire going for the first time, this slim volume of essays will act like oxygen and turn that desire into an inferno of creativity.
Zen in the Art of Writing: Essays on Creativity by Ray Bradbury
Santa Barbara: Joshua Odell Editions, 1994
Print length: 176 pages