What I’ve learned from Ray Bradbury’s ‘Zen in the Art of Writing’

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I’m not a huge fan of Ray Bradbury but I keep seeing quotes from this book posted on writing blogs so thought I’d give it a read.  It’s not so straight talking as King’s ‘On Writing’ (which I keep meaning to do a post about) but it has some interesting insights into Bradbury’s way of writing.

For instance, he suggests writing a new short story every week as ‘eventually quantity will make quality.’  And I suppose I get that idea.  If you have fifty-two stories, at least one of them has got to be okay, right?

He writes how he used to write a first draft in full at the start of the week and then after revising it several times for the next few days, he would send it off for publication.  Yes, the entire story conceived, written and edited in a week!

And it is this that has given me an approach to adopt for the next novel I’m writing.

At the start of the week I will write a chapter of my novel.  I will do this by hand in one of my notebooks to begin with.  This might seem a little old fashioned to some but when editing previously, I noticed how chapters I remembered scribbling into my notebook were of better quality than the chapters I just typed up straight away.

Then I will type up my chapter, altering anything that needs changing. In effect, this means that the very act of typing makes it a second draft.

Then I will revisit and re edit the chapter until I reach the end of the week. Hopefully, this means that the final ‘first draft’ manuscript will feel more like a fourth draft by the time I finish it.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

How do you write and edit your stories?  If you haven’t already, you can take part in a poll here. Results will be published on Friday at 8pm.


10 thoughts on “What I’ve learned from Ray Bradbury’s ‘Zen in the Art of Writing’

    Tim Kimber said:
    September 22, 2015 at 5:51 pm

    Which Bradbury stories have you read, if you don’t mind my asking?


      wickedpixiegirl responded:
      September 22, 2015 at 6:02 pm

      The Lake and Fahrenheit 451 (Obviously!) Are there any you would recommend reading?


        Tim Kimber said:
        September 22, 2015 at 6:09 pm

        Something Wicked This Way Comes is a classic. There’s this wonderful moment where a father tries to explain love to two pre-pubescent boys. It’s lovely.

        I think he’s ace, though I’ve not read The Lake. 451 was good, if slightly over-bearing on the fire analogies.


        wickedpixiegirl responded:
        September 25, 2015 at 7:52 pm

        I may check that story out at some point. Thanks for the recommendation.


    Gaming Backlog said:
    September 24, 2015 at 4:18 am

    When I write my stories, I’ve already come up with a concept for the story I want to write. I have a main character and a situation I’d like to see them in, and I know the basics of how I want the story to end.

    The first ACTIVE step I take in writing the story is opening up a word document, and typing out the ideas I want to write about. I might say something like: A young kid goes to prison for massacring the gang who killed his family, but he gets a chance to earn his freedom if he participates in some twisted reality show where death is the selling point. <– premise for my next book, by the way.

    After that, I start to write. When my writing slows down, I start reviewing what I've written, and editing as I go. When I finish reviewing/editing, I've usually fixed whatever problem that was slowing me down (although, not always), and I continue writing. I repeat this process until I'm done. I wait a few days (longer, if necessary), review/edit again, and then I'm done.

    I like the process that you mentioned you're going to try, but I don't think I could do it. I've written lots of notes for stories, but I couldn't imagine how sore my fingers would be if I tried to write a full-length story by hand. I agree that the quality would probably be better, because you're writing slower than you would if you were using a keyboard. You're brain has more time to think stuff through when you write by hand, but I would prefer the convenience of a word processor to review and edit later on as opposed to constant hand cramps.

    Also, I agree that writing at least one short story a week would improve writing, but that seems pretty common sense. Writing, in general, will improve with practice, but short stories are easier to manage. Writers can understand where they went right and what went wrong more quickly with a short story than if they were reviewing their first novel. Another thing that helps is reading fiction, both good and bad. You'll know it when you see it, and it will influence the way you write.


      wickedpixiegirl responded:
      September 25, 2015 at 7:55 pm

      That’s interesting how you have a really clear idea of *exactly* what you want before you begin. I guess mine come out of ‘what would happen if…’thoughts.
      (Btw – Episode 5 of Life is Strange due next month. Can barely contain my excitement!)

      Liked by 1 person

        Gaming Backlog said:
        September 26, 2015 at 8:55 am

        I usually start building on ideas that I like while driving. When the details of a specific idea become too complex to remember, I move on to my laptop. Usually, after the initial ideas have been saved, I find myself jotting additional notes onto scrap pieces of paper until I get a chance to add them to the digital file(s).

        How much progress have you made on the final edit of your YA novel? I’m interested in reading it when it’s ready.

        I’m looking forward to the conclusion of Life is Strange, too! I hope they’re already putting the finishing touches on it so we can play ASAP.


    SabahBatul. said:
    October 4, 2015 at 8:15 pm

    I enjoy your posts….And hence I want to nominate you to the blogger recognition award :)For more details.

    Liked by 1 person

      wickedpixiegirl responded:
      October 8, 2015 at 9:23 am

      Oh wow! This is fantastic! Thanks so much. I’d better get thinking of who else to nominate 🙂 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

        SabahBatul. said:
        October 8, 2015 at 9:29 am

        Do tag me in your post:)


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