Zen in the Art of Writing: Book, Blurb & Collage

Zen in the Art of Writing.jpg

A collection of phrases and quotes from the book, Zen in the Art of Writing, written by Ray Bradbury. Clicking the image will take you to a higher-res version on my Flickr page.  This collage was created by me and is free to share.   


Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury is one of the most enjoyable call-to-action type books I’ve flipped through.  I know, I say that a lot.  But heck, it feels like Bradbury is slapping you on the back while you read this and whispering, “you got this,” from the grave. Before I get into the meat of the book, you can give it a glance on [Amazon] or [goodreads] if you would like.

A quick aside.  I purchased this book on Amazon, but purchased a used version.  It came to me from some small bookstore.  When I flipped it open…jackpot!  There was a message written on the inside cover.  I don’t know about all of you, but I love stuff like this.  Here is the message:


Bradbury shares well, and with wit, the timeless creative spirit, objective and true. This work reminds me of the eternity I see in your eyes, in you. May it find and inspire your creative self well.


Joe, if you are reading this, I’m sorry man.  It looks like Erin was not impressed by Bradbury and sold the book despite your inspiring words.  I enjoyed the book though.

zen in the art of writing.jpgErin, if you accidentally misplaced this book, shoot me a message and I’ll get it back to you.  I hope you did find your creative self.  If you did sell this book, I hope you fall off your bike and knock out your two front teeth!  Okay, I hope nothing that bad happens, but sheesh, have a heart.

*Corey considers deleting the previous insanity then shrugs his shoulders instead*

Back to the book!  Bradbury’s book was very different than most call-to-action type books I’ve read.  There is a surge of energy behind his words and a contagious optimism.  Yes, he is realistic about some of the challenges, but there is still an undertone of positive lightning.

Bradbury offers a ton of takeaways and recommendations.  Some of them seem insane, and some of them make a lot of sense to me.  I’ve listed a spattering of them below.  They have been ordered from least insane to most.

  1. Write every day.
    I like it.  Doesn’t have to be a WIP, but at least keep your fingers moving.  I even count these blog posts as part of my writing regiment.
  2. Read every day.
    Right on Ray!  You’ve got to eat your greens and gorge on desserts every now and then.
  3. Get out in the world and experience life to enrich your writing.
    As a hermit, this is hard to digest.  But I wasn’t always a hermit.  There was a time I sailed the oceans, traveled the world, spied on terrorists, and chased criminals.  I wrote a post a while back about how Herman Melville’s style and voice changed after he signed up to be a crew member on a whaling boat. It worked out well for him when he wrote Moby Dick.
  4. Utilize word association to generate interesting ideas.
    This is my kid of weird, literary science.  Bradbury has a list of crazy words and phrases he used to help generate fun ideas and concepts. He encourages the writer to choose things that resonate with them on some level and play with the concepts.
  5. A Refined ListActivate the readers senses.
    This is great advice.  It could have populated any of these first spots on this list.
  6. Make the skeletons in your childhood closet dance.
    This is probably great advice for some, but I had an awesome childhood.  Growing up on a farm and playing in the woods.  For me, this is a well with no water to pull out. But for some of you, this might be an exploding geyser.
  7. Write a short story every week for at least five years.
    For some of you, this is no sweat (I’m looking at you, Andrew and SDS).  For me, this seems a little intimidating, but hey, I can’t argue that it wouldn’t be effective.
  8. Play with story ideas for years before you bother trying to write them.
    This one is a bit harder for me.  Bradbury talks about twenty to thirty years being an okay amount of time to let a story marinate in your brain.  I guess because I write post-apocalyptic fiction I assume the world will have ended by then…
  9. Write like a man/woman possessed by the gods.
    At first I thought, heck yeah Ray—write the words, all of them!  Then he talked about how he would write the first draft on a Monday, the second on a Tuesday, and so on until the story was ready to mail out on Saturday.  While this was likely regarding short stories, and not full-length novels, this is still a tremendous pace.  I’m not sure I will ever be confident/skilled enough to pull this off even for a short story.

I know I almost always say, “This is a great book,” but this has become one of my favorites.  Between Ray’s shout-outs to his cats, to his infectiously positive prose, it’s hard to not find yourself giving him high-fives from beyond the grave while you flip through it.  If I am feeling cynical and need a boost, I’ll read On Writing, Bird by Bird, or Writing Past Dark.  If I’m feeling good, but want a couple extra jolts of inspiration—this is the book.

question-markThat’s it for today.  If you are curious about some of the other writing books I have read you can check out a listing of them I made by clicking right here.  I’m constantly eating my greens, and I encourage you to do the same.  If you have a book recommendation, I would love to hear about it!  I’m always looking for more books to devour.  Until tomorrow, keep reading, keep writing, and as always – stay sharp!

Copyright Info (final)

33 responses

  1. Bradbury was writing before the internet. These days, it is possible to experience the world (at least to a reasonable extent) even as a hermit.

    Writing a short story every week is GREAT if you want to be a writer of short stories, but it only goes so far toward learning how to write novels. Also, I think it was Bradbury who said that if you write a short story each week for one year, you’ll have at least one GOOD story, because it’s impossible to write more than fifty BAD stories in a row. Thanks to one writing group I joined years ago, I know this is actually not true; one of that group’s members had written more than a HUNDRED stories in a row… and flat-out refused to revise any of them in an attempt to make them better because Bradbury said don’t ever rewrite except on the advice of a magazine’s editor. I think Bradbury was operating on the assumption that all writers have some skill with stringing words together, but thanks to the internet, we ALL know that isn’t true.

    So Bradbury said it’s a good idea to let a story idea sit for years, eh? Excellent news… The earliest version of “that novel” got started almost twenty-five years ago, and some elements in it go back to the mid-80s.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I don’t understand why the person in your writing group would seek outside perspective if they refused to rewrite or change their way of thinking. It seems to me they were there simply to have people applaud them.

      After reading the book there is no doubt Bradbury was a patient guy when it came to full-blown novels. I think it took him about ten years of short stories before he wrote his first “big hit” (I’d have to look again to confirm that 100 percent).

      I remember reading that Tolkien spent some ten years writing the narrative and building the world for Lord of the Rings before he even really started the task of writing. Between Tolkien and Bradbury’s outlook of time, I’d say you are well within normal parameters for writing an earth-shattering novel.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Wonderful article!

    I can see writing short stories rapidly, if you bother editing after that. I get it. Last night I tranced out and went on a writing spree till I collapsed (I write in notebooks and stuff with stories I’m not putting on the blog).

    It’s crazy how you get when you get in that “possessed” sort of zone. It is unlike anything to be honest! Haha! Thanks for the nod by the way. I write everyday (yes though I don’t post to the blog on Sunday’s and it’s technically my day off, I’m actually writing 99.9% of the time anyways) as I know you do to.

    Life without writing would be pretty boring in my opinion. I don’t see how non writers do it…then again, I suppose many of them read and that is a wonderful thing too!

    Cheers! ^_^

    Liked by 4 people

    • Your industriousness is motivating to say the least! Much like you, I do write pretty much every single day. Whether it’s for my own stories, for this blog, or helping other authors with their own novels as an editor.

      For me, editing gives me the opportunity to experience new worlds before everyone else. Better yet, I get to help polish those worlds and make them even more amazing. Two days ago I was reading and writing about folks with night terrors developing supernatural abilities thanks to government intervention (MLS Weech’s book Caught), and yesterday I was reading and writing about space Marines being unfrozen after 35 years of cryosleep (JR Handley’s Sleeping Legion series). It’s really a wild ride.

      Toss in my own post-apocalyptic writing and you have a very imaginative world I get a to play in. I can only imagine how amazing the stories trapped in that notebook you are writing are. Given how prolifically you are writing here on the blog, I’m sure the quality there is great as well.

      Thanks for stopping in today and reading. I’m looking forward to reading some of your work tonight.

      Liked by 3 people

      • “For me, editing gives me the opportunity to experience new worlds before everyone else. Better yet, I get to help polish those worlds and make them even more amazing.” Exactly! Not only do we get to read it first (whatever “it” happens to be), but we also get to be involved on some level in the creation of new worlds.

        (I will definitely be reading Caught at the earliest opportunity. *walks away to acquire coffee, muttering something about ‘scary pictures’ and possibly New Jersey*)

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks so much! I’m actually super stoked! Some of those stories I write outside the blog are going to be narrated in the near future on YT!

        I mean, that’s happened with some of my blog stories but, it’s nice to write something outside the blog for narrators and to see the narrators actually want to use it. It’s still horror but it’s not horror that’s anywhere else right now lol. I love hearing people’s interpretations of what I write. It makes me smile! That, and I REALLY LOVE the idea of also helping other artists through writing. It kind of is what it’s all about to me.

        If I can write something and someone is kind enough to narrate it, I see it as a win/win. I get my stuff shared and at the same time I can help other narrators (artists) by providing content that hopefully draws more viewers for them, as well as help listeners get an escape. It totally makes me happy!

        *Deep Breath*

        I’m super stoked to see you love writing everyday as well. I mean, I’m not surprised but it’s inspiring to see someone else out there writing away like their soul depends on it! ^_^

        I learn a lot from your blog and I am always excited to read what you put up next, and to see how I can adapt the lessons learned, into my own writing.

        Thank so much! ^_^

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Well, I have the writing every day thing down. It’s like anything, the more you do it, the more you learn. I am going to have a chance to do a writing frenzy this weekend in preparation for November and I am so looking forward to it!

    Liked by 2 people

    • A writing frenzy! You better bring aviator goggles and caffeine. I hope you are able to pound out some words this weekend. Good luck, and never forget—in Ned Stark’s voice—Novemeber is coming…

      Liked by 3 people

      • As a co-conspirator, I must advise you to bring both a compass and machete with you to navigate the thick underbrush of your emerging story. I also advise long sleeves for brambles. A Snuggie® might work as well. Good luck!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I can tick off a few of those… Hermitism is great fun though and means I don’t get cold, or wet, or too hot. I suppose I could go to a bookshop to get this book.
    Too late. The siren song of Amazon called to me and I couldn’t resist.
    Great post Corey. Keep them coming.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Stop judging Erin, dude! You don’t know the circumstances!


    Seriously, thanks for this rec and the awesome infograph. Yet another book to add to my to-read pile . . . .

    (By the way, little notes like that might be the best argument I’ve ever heard for buying used physical books instead of Kindle editions. Not enough to convince me, but still.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Erin is obviously a heart-breaker! Or Joe is a stalker…

      Either way, I’m glad you enjoyed the read. One thing I love about Amazon, is when you switch it to the “buy used” option, most of the small bookstores leave notes about the condition of the book. The BEST of those bookstores will tell you if there are highlighter marks and notes written inside. Those are the ones I go for. Things like that make me feel connected to the book-o-verse in the weird kind of way.

      Thanks for stopping in and leaving some thoughts. I hope you enjoy it when you do get around to reading it.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Well, I can’t let pass an opportunity like this without sharing my favorite quote from Ray Bradbury.

    “All you umpires, back to the bleachers. Referees, hit the showers. It’s my game. I pitch, I hit, I catch. I run the bases. At sunset, I’ve won or lost. At sunrise, I’m out again, giving it the old try. And no one can help me. Not even you.” Fahrenheit 451: Coda

    Thanks, Corey, for sharing another great resource.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Pingback: Zen in the Art of Writing: Book, Blurb & Collage – Every time I open my mouth some idiot starts talking!

  8. Pingback: ‘How to Write’ Books – CinderBears Wood

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