Zen in the Art of Writing

Zen in the Art of Writing by Bradbury has been a great influence on my writing career. I love one of the returning refrains throughout this collection of essays, that we need to show up and write every day (his prescription is 1000 words a day and a short story a week) and that through quantity shall come quality. Through quantity we become knowing of grammar and story structure until we reach a point that story telling becomes second nature. We don’t have to think about grammar and technique because it’s inside us and we can simply let our characters show us the way.

I love that for Bradbury, plot is secondary, or perhaps assumed. It will happen during the telling of the story, because our characters (and subconscious) are good enough to lace it through the action. But the goal is to simply keep up with the characters and what they think and do.

Each essay within this collection looks at aspects of writing and life and how Bradbury has put them together. We get a bit of autobiography while he explains the positive use of lists for ideas and writing every day and trusting our characters and our subconscious (which he aligns with our Muse).

All in all, Bradbury’s advice is great advice. We don’t get into the nuts and bolts of story telling, but rather the broad stokes which can be applied to your own writing career if you so decide.

“Zest. Gusto. How rarely one hears these words used. How rarely do we see people living, or for that matter, creating by them.” ~Bradbury

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