Ray Bradbury On Writer Hygiene

20 Jun

Colin Marshall did a great summary of the video so I won’t rehash it. Here’s a little of what he said below. If you want to read more, check out Open Culture.

  • Don’t start out writing novels. They take too long. Begin your writing life instead by cranking out “a hell of a lot of short stories,” as many as one per week. Take a year to do it; he claims that it simply isn’t possible to write 52 bad short stories in a row. He waited until the age of 30 to write his first novel, Fahrenheit 451. “Worth waiting for, huh?”
  • You may love ‘em, but you can’t be ‘em. Bear that in mind when you inevitably attempt, consciously or unconsciously, to imitate your favorite writers, just as he imitated H.G. Wells, Jules Verne, Arthur Conan Doyle, and L. Frank Baum.
  • Examine “quality” short stories. He suggests Roald Dahl, Guy de Maupassant, and the lesser-known Nigel Kneale and John Collier. Anything in the New Yorker today doesn’t make his cut, since he finds that their stories have “no metaphor.”
  • Stuff your head. To accumulate the intellectual building blocks of these metaphors, he suggests a course of bedtime reading: one short story, one poem (but Pope, Shakespeare, and Frost, not modern “crap”), and one essay. These essays should come from a diversity of fields, including archaeology, zoology, biology, philosophy, politics, and literature. “At the end of a thousand nights,” so he sums it up, “Jesus God, you’ll be full of stuff!”

Get your copy of my newest book “After The Darkness” now. Both episode 1 and 2 are available.

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2 Responses to “Ray Bradbury On Writer Hygiene”

  1. Ben Pienaar June 20, 2012 at 6:44 pm #

    Helped me so much, what a genius. Funny how so many successful writers have the same ideas about how to write well: read a lot, write a lot, basically

    • sunhimistwalker June 20, 2012 at 9:27 pm #

      Yep, basically that seems to be the winning formula. 🙂

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