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11.08.2012 22:01    Comments: 0    Categories: Writing  Writing Tips      Tags: writing advice from ray bradbury  writing advice  ray bradbury  

In 2001 Bradbury gave the keynote address at Point Loma Nazarene University’s Writer’s Symposium By the Sea. During the keynote address he offered the following six pieces of advice for writers:


1. Don’t Start Out Writing Novels. Bradbury advises not to start your writing career by trying to write a novel. He explains that the problem with setting a goal of writing a novel to begin with is that you can spend a whole year trying to write one, and it might not turn out well. After all, if you’re just starting out you haven’t learned to write yet. Beginning and intermediate writers should write short stories; that way, you can write one short story a week.


When you start writing short stories, the quality doesn’t really matter; you’re practicing your craft. At the end of the year, you’ll have 52 short stories. Bradbury adds that it’s almost impossible not to have at least one good story among those 52. Writing short stories will teach you to be constantly looking for ideas. In addition, every week you’ll be happy, because by the end of each week you’ll have something to show for your efforts.


2. Read Great Short Stories. Of course, Bradbury recommends that you read a lot of short stories by great authors. Some examples of authors whose short stories you should read are Edgar Allan Poe, Herman Melville, Edith Wharton, and Washington Irving.


3. Stuff Your Head. In addition, Bradbury recommends that for one-thousand nights, before you go to sleep, you do the following:

  • Read one short story a night.
  • Read one poem a night.
  • Read one essay a night, from very diverse fields: politics, philosophy, religion, biology, anthropology, psychology, and so on.

At the end of the one-thousand nights you’ll be full of stuff! All this stuff will be bouncing around in your head, and you’ll be able to come up with lots of new ideas. Here’s a quote in which Bradbury emphasizes that you must read everything that you can in a variety of different fields:

“I absolutely demand of you and everyone I know that they be widely read in every damn field there is; in every religion and every art form and don’t tell me you haven’t got time! There’s plenty of time. You need all of these cross-references. You never know when your head is going to use this fuel, this food for its purposes.”


4. Get Rid of Friends Who Don’t Support You. The next thing that Bradbury recommends is that you fire all of those friends who don’t believe in you, and who make fun of your aspirations to become a writer.

  • “If any girl doesn’t like what you’re doing, ‘Out of your life!’”.
  • “If your friends make fun of you, “To hell with them. Out!’”


5. Live In the Library. Bradbury didn’t go to college, because he couldn’t afford to do so. However, he would go to the library religiously and read everything he could get his hands on; he indicates that he graduated from the library at the age of 28. Here’s what Bradbury has to say about libraries:

  • “I spent three days a week for 10 years educating myself in the public library, and it’s better than college. People should educate themselves – you can get a complete education for no money. At the end of 10 years, I had read every book in the library and I’d written a thousand stories.”
  • ”You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads.”


6. Write With Joy. Bradbury would often say that writing is not a serious business; it’s not work. Writing is a joy, a celebration . . . you should be having fun at it. Bradbury shares that he never worked a day in his life; the joy of writing propelled him from day to day, and from year to year. Here are two of his quotes which reflect that sentiment:

  • “Love is easy, and I love writing. You can’t resist love. You get an idea, someone says something, and you’re in love.”
  • “Love. Fall in love and stay in love. Write only what you love, and love what you write. The key word is love. You have to get up in the morning and write something you love, something to live for.”



About the Author


Ray Bradbury (August 22, 1920 - June 5, 2012) published some 500 short stories, novels, plays and poems since his first story appeared in Weird Tales when he was twenty years old. Among his many famous works are 'Fahrenheit 451,' 'The Illustrated Man,' and 'The Martian Chronicles.'



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