Tag Archives: Ray Bradbury

Ray Bradbury and the Enthusiasm that Becomes a Writer’s Voice

Yesterday I stumbled across a 22 minute interview with Ray Bradbury done by the National Endowment for the Arts’ “The Big Read” program.   It’s well worth watching.  There’s even a loud car purr to relax by 😀

But, watching this interview, I was struck by just how vivid and alive Bradbury is compared to some people I’ve met.  He’s refused to be mocked by the world into disguising, hiding, and getting rid of his enthusiasms, and it shows.

How many people do you know go to Paris to walk the streets while stopping to read TENDER IS THE NIGHT along the way?  It’s the actual physical act of getting out into the world and colliding with it that can generate so many new ideas.

Enthusiasms can also act as road signs of what to write about as a writer.   They can help a writer find his or her voice.  For example, a passion for astronomy could turn into a science fiction story or a literary novel about an astronomer.  And I’ve noticed how “catching” enthusiasm is.  I’m not into cars, but by watching the hosts of “Top Gear” on the BBC talk with passion about cars, I’ve caught some of their enthusiasm and am starting to pay attention to the cars and trucks I see daily.

Bradbury has priceless advice to give on finding one’s voice as a writer, both in ZEN AND THE ART OF WRITING and in this “The Big Read” interview.  Check them out.

Ray Bradbury’s ZEN IN THE ART OF WRITING

The strength of Ray Bradbury’s ZEN IN THE ART OF WRITING: ESSAYS ON CREATIVITY is the insight he provides into the art and psychology of being a writer.  This is not a how-to-write or how-to-get-published book, and if you go into it with those expectations you will be disappointed.

Bradbury talks about his own journey as an artist, and provides advice on how to keep the writing muse alive and happy.  Whenever I feel blah as a writer, I find picking up this book and reading an essay or two shakes me out of it quickly.  Here’s what he has to say about the joy of writing:

…if you are writing without zest, without gusto, without love, without fun, you are only half a writer.  It means you are so busy keeping one eye on the commercial market, or one ear peeled for the avant-garde coterie, that you are not being yourself.  You don’t even know yourself.  For the first thing a writer should be is–excited.

He also makes the best argument I’ve read (and I’ve read way too many writing craft books) for why it’s important to write a thousand words per day:

Quantity gives experience.  From experience alone can quality come.

All arts, big and small, are the elimination of waste motion in favor of  the concise declaration.

The artist learns what to leave out.

The surgeon knows how to go directly to the source of trouble, how to avoid wasted time and complications.

The athlete learns how to conserve power and apply it now here, now there, how to utilize this muscle, rather than that.

Is the writer different?  I think not.

Bradbury also provides wonderful advice for brainstorming story ideas, but you’ll have to read the book to find out about that (look for the essay “Run Fast, Stand Still…”).

Interviews with Ray Bradbury, Anne Lamott, and more

I was exploring YouTube, feeling a bit of self-pity over not having the money to go to various out-of-state writer’s conferences this year, and discovered an amazing collection of recorded interviews and speeches done at the yearly writer’s conference “Writer’s Symposium by the Sea” run by Point Loma Nazarene University.

The symposium has recordings of two of my favorite writers, Ray Bradbury and Anne Lamott.  I’ve always longed to go to a writer’s conference to hear them speak about the craft of writing (I have their advice books on writing).   I felt like a huge present had just been dropped in my lap.

Here’s a link to the speech by Ray Bradbury, the interview with Ray Bradbury, and the interview with Anne Lamott at YouTube.

You can use search terms like “Writer’s Symposium by the Sea” or “Point Loma Nazarene University” to try and find out what is out there.  So far I’ve discovered talks by: Anne Lamott, Ray Bradbury, Donald Miller, Barbara Bradley, Bill Moyers, Gary Hart, Phillip Yancey, Gay Talese, Peter Matthiessen, George Plimpton, and more.

Good luck exploring!