Why take Ray Bradbury’s advice?
Ray Bradbury, who died in 2012 aged 91, was one of the most celebrated writers of our time – he inspired generations of readers to dream, think, and create. He also won the 2000 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, the 2004 National Medal of Arts, and the 2007 Pulitzer Prize Special Citation.
Although he was also known for a few groundbreaking novels –book-burning dystopia Fahrenheit 451 (1953) and the dark fantasy Something Wicked This Way Comes (1962) – as well as for children’s books, plays, screenplays and poetry, it was for his short stories that he gained his widest fame, with his best-known collection being The Martian Chronicles (1950). His tales, mostly fantasy which combined the Gothic and the pastoral in almost mythic depictions of childhood, innocence, corruption and, above all else, small-town America, were collected in dozens of volumes and reprinted in countless magazines, anthologies and school textbooks.
So what is Ray Bradbury’s advice?
Ray Bradbury gave this great talk at Point Loma Nazarene University in 2001:
It’s a combination of personal anecdotes and advice to aspiring writers, and we recommend you find an hour to watch it. There are many gems of wisdom, summarized in the 20-point list below:
- Try writing short stories first, before you write a novel.
- Read one short story, one essay, and one poem before you go to bed each night for 1,000 nights.
- Get rid of all the people in your life who don’t support you. Especially the ones who make fun of your dreams.
- Go to the library. Live in the library.
- Read everything by George Bernard Shaw.
- Fall in love with old movies.
- Don’t be a snob.
- Be joyful. Writing is not a serious business—it is a celebration.
- Don’t do it for the money.
- Write something you want to read.
- Make a list of 10 things you love. Write about them.
- Make a list of 10 things you hate. Write about them.
- Make a list of 10 things you fear. Write about them.
- Follow your intuition.
- Don’t ask: what will sell? Ask: who am I? Find your true self.
- Sit on a porch on a long, hot summer night and listen to other people’s stories.
- Look closely at everything.
- Surprise yourself. Don’t know what you’re going to do next.
- Meet the people you were destined to meet.
- What you are looking for—what you are writing for—is for one person to come up and say: Hey, you’re okay—you’re not nuts the way people said. I love you. I love you for what you do.
Watch these videos for more of Ray Bradbury’s indispensable advice for writers:
Advice to aspiring writers:
On writing persistently:
Scattered amongst these videos, you will find these Bradbury nuggets:
- If you want to write, if you want to create, you must be the most sublime fool that God has ever turned out and sent rambling.
- You must write every single day of your life. You must read dreadful dumb books and glorious books, and let them wrestle in beautiful fights inside your head, vulgar one moment, brilliant the next.
- You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books likes hats upon your crazy heads.
- I wish you a wrestling match with your Creative Muse that will last a lifetime. I wish craziness and foolishness and madness upon you.
- May you live with hysteria, and out of it make fine stories – science fiction or otherwise.
- Which finally means – May you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.
Find out more
There are many other sources of good Ray Bradbury advice, including this excellent blog.