Sunday, June 10, 2012

It took him just two hours to write a poem, half a day to finish a short story, and nine days for a full-scale novel.

You will have to write and put away or burn a lot of material before you are comfortable in this medium. You might as well start now and get the necessary work done. For I believe that eventually quantity will make for quality.

This practical advice on writing, which I share every year with my students, comes from Ray Bradbury, the American author of more than 500 published works (so he knew what he was talking about).

For Bradbury, who died earlier this week in Los Angeles, writing was playing. "I don’t think I know what writer's block is," he said. "I never had it. My typewriter goes everywhere I go. I get up at 3 a.m. every day, head for the keyboard, laugh a lot, then go back to bed."

This gem of a quote is from The Writing Life, edited by Maria Arana, who tells us in her introduction to Bradbury’s essay in the book that it took him just two hours to write a poem, half a day to finish a short story, and nine days for a full-scale novel.


Zen in the Art of Writing, which he first published in 1990 (and which was my first Flipkart acquisition), also gives us a peek into Bradbury's enjoyment of his work. I remember taking a quote from Zen and posting it as my Facebook status update soon after I began reading it:

If you're writing without zest, without gusto, without love, without fun, you're only half a writer.... For the first thing a writer should be is — excited.

The book is packed with practical — that word again — tips on writing from a man who was clearly a master of the craft. If your aim is to write and to enjoy writing, I can't recommend Zen in the Art of Writing highly enough.
  • The New York Times was exuberant, fittingly, in its praise of Ray Bradbury the day after he died. Read the obituary — and learn why more than eight million copies of Bradbury's books have been sold in 36 languages — here: "He Brought Mars to Earth With a Lyrical Mastery".
  • The day before he died, the New Yorker published an autobiographical essay by Ray Bradbury, in which he described the influences that shaped his life as a boy and that later had an impact on his life as a writer. Read the essay here: "Take Me Home".

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