I am not a big Ray Bradbury fan. I have only read Something Wicked This Way Comes, and that’s only because it was for high school english class. I’m not even sure I understand why we read it. I didn’t like it, mainly because I didn’t understand it.
But then I came across this book on writing by one of the great literary masters of sci-fi. And I thought “Hey, I don’t like Stephen King and his book On Writing was phenomenal.” So I picked it up.
This was a super quick read. I was able to listen to most of it while driving to and from work, actually. I listened to it while walking through one of the park trails. Accidentally, I took a wrong turn and what was supposed to be only a ten or fifteen minute walk from one side of the park to the other ended up taking me about forty minutes to complete. At least I had some good company, with my downloaded book.
I think I need to change my favorite genre to “Books about writing“. I loved Stephen King’s book. I enjoyed Anne Lamont’s Bird by Bird. And Bradbury’s Zen in the Art of Writing was very enjoyable.
I had the same thoughts listening to Zen in the Art of Writing as I did listening to On Writing. That was, wow, maybe I should give this author another shot. Sure, I hated Something Wicked This Way Comes, but let’s be honest, who REALLY enjoys all the stupid reading material schools make you study?
Bradbury is a confident writer. He speaks of the craft with confidence and something of authority, without feeling snobbish or entitled. He is a gold mine of a writer. Farenheit 451 is considered by many to be a classic. So are many of Bradbury’s work.
I didn’t realize Bradbury wrote the script for Spaceship Earth at Disney’s EPCOT. To me, that’s some serious credentials. He is the person you turn to when designing a story about space and the future, apparently.
But the book was way more than a memoir of Bradbury’s writing and creative career. He gives very sound advice.
You must work to achieve relaxation and ability to do the task without thinking about it. A doctor doesn’t need to tell his scapel where to cut, a sculptor doesn’t THINK about how to mold the clay. Their hands do the work, that they have practiced over and over again. Through quantity comes quality. A runner may run 1000 miles just to prepare for a 100 meter sprint.
When you do the work consistently and never give up, you achieve a sort of relaxation, where our bodies do the work for us. I know it sounds like writers have to consciously think of every word they type, but I don’t think that’s true. When I’m in the Zone with writing, the words just come, like I’m in a trance and my mind and body have been overtaken by my inner self. It’s cathartic.
The more you write, the better you get. You learn from every episode of writing. You learn from every essay, poem, short story, or chapter you finish. When you’re good, you learn from it. Bradbury says “if you’re bad, you learn even more.” That’s the Zen I needed to hear.
It goes in line with Ikigai, too. Do what you love. Be the best version of yourself, by practicing daily, and creating flow, relaxation, and Zen.
There is no failure unless one gives up.
Thank you, Ray Bradbury. You have helped motivate me to work harder, not just because I want to be an accomplished author, but because writing is a part of who I am. And to not write would be to deny myself of true Zen.