Ray Bradbury was the Poet Of Science Fiction. Not only could he spin a great yarn, but he spun it with panache. He could draw an amazing world, and then draw you into it so that you didn’t even realize it was happening. Eloquent, brilliant, innovative, genius…well, there are lots of words to describe him, but they all mean that if there’s anybody worth listening to for good advice, it’s Ray.
Emily Temple at Literary Hub has published a great compilation of Bradbury’s advice, and it’s an enlightening read. I just stumbled across it and it made me realize I needed to subscribe to Lit Hub’s newsletter so I wouldn’t miss out on seeing great stuff like this unless I stumbled across it. So I did…and now I’ve been too busy to even look at my daily e-mails for the past week. But I’ll get there…I promise! And I’ll quite babbling and post that article so you can see the good stuff instead of babble. And good stuff it is.
Ray Bradbury’s Greatest Writing Advice
“I’ve had a sign over my typewriter for over 25 years now: Don’t think!“
Today would have been the 98th birthday of Ray Bradbury, the greatest sci-fi writer in history, who (by no small coincidence) also happened to know a thing or two about writing. Like many American children, I grew up on Bradbury—”The Veldt” remains my favorite of his stories—but as I became a writer myself I began to cherish not just the great author’s work, but his attitude towards it. Bradbury loved writing. He took intense pleasure in it, and it shows on every page. This is, of course, not possible for everyone, but still, I find it to be a lovely antidote to all the hand-wringing and hair-tearing and sit-at-the-typwriter-and-bleeding contemporary writers seem to do (or claim to do, online or otherwise) these days. If that’s what happens when you write, Bradbury taught, find some other way to spend your time. Which is a pretty good tip. So now, without further ado, I present below an incomplete but illuminating collection of some more of Ray Bradbury’s very best writing advice.
Quantity creates quality:
The best hygiene for beginning writers or intermediate writers is to write a hell of a lot of short stories. If you can write one short story a week—it doesn’t matter what the quality is to start, but at least you’re practicing, and at the end of the year you have 52 short stories, and I defy you to write 52 bad ones. Can’t be done. At the end of 30 weeks or 40 weeks or at the end of the year, all of a sudden a story will come that’s just wonderful.
-from “Telling the Truth,” the keynote address of The Sixth Annual Writer’s Symposium by the Sea, sponsored by Point Loma Nazarene University, 2001
Get to the big truth first:
A novel has all kinds of pitfalls because it takes longer and you are around people, and if you’re not careful you will talk about it. The novel is also hard to write in terms of keeping your love intense. It’s hard to stay erect for two hundred days. So, get the big truth first. If you get the big truth, the small truths will accumulate around it. Let them be magnetized to it, drawn to it, and then cling to it.
-from a 2010 interview with Sam Weller, published in The Paris Review
[There’s a lot more, and it’s good stuff, like I said, so click the link below and keep reading!]