Ray Bradbury

The first book I read that made me realize books could be something other than an escape—that they could also be dangerous: was Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. When I got the news yesterday that Ray had passed away, I dug out my old dog-eared mass-market copy and started re-reading. I also came across a great video of a talk he gave at Point Loma Nazarene University (I’ve put it at the end of this post). It’s a combination of advice to aspiring writers and personal anecdotes, and it takes about an hour to watch. I’d recommend that you find an hour and do so. By the end I found myself thinking: Hey, Ray Bradbury’s okay. He’s not nuts the way people said. I love him. I love him for what he does. I also took notes, and wrote down all the things that struck me. There were many things that struck me. They are summarized in the list below.

Ray Bradbury’s 20 Tips on How to Become a Writer:

  1. Try writing short stories first, before you write a novel.
  2. Read one short story, one essay, and one poem before you go to bed each night for 1,000 nights.
  3. Get rid of all the people in your life who don’t support you. Especially the ones who make fun of your dreams.
  4. Go to the library. Live in the library.
  5. Read everything by George Bernard Shaw.
  6. Fall in love with old movies.
  7. Don’t be a snob.
  8. Be joyful. Writing is not a serious business—it is a celebration.
  9. Don’t do it for the money.
  10. Write something you want to read.
  11. Make a list of 10 things you love. Write about them.
  12. Make a list of 10 things you hate. Write about them.
  13. Make a list of 10 things you fear. Write about them.
  14. Follow your intuition.
  15. Don’t ask: what will sell? Ask: who am I? Find your true self.
  16. Sit on a porch on a long, hot summer night and listen to other people’s stories.
  17. Look closely at everything.
  18. Surprise yourself. Don’t know what you’re going to do next.
  19. Meet the people you were destined to meet.
  20. 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.

11 responses

  1. The more I read about Ray Bradbury, the more enamoured I become and I’m only just beginning to read his actual work – better late than never I guess, but every quote I’ve read has been such an inspiration. Thank you so much for sharing this, wonderful!

  2. The spirit of this list, and the kindness shown toward the aspiring writer, strongly reminds me of the building blocks and philosophy of the Sirenland Writers Conference – especially the celebrating that goes on!

  3. Just got done listening, put it on while I’m cleaning house. What a wonderful person, always so full of energy and love of life. It was actually because of Bradbury I dedicated a year to writing only short stories. Thank you so much for posting this. I
    have two favorite clips of conversations with him I think you may enjoy and the longer of the two is only twenty minutes.
    -This one in his white shorts (boxers?) drinking Coors and sharing wisdom
    -and this one, where you can’t help but fall in love with his enthusiasm. I hope you enjoy.

  4. Thank you, Hannah. I think I needed to read that. Great book (451) and wonderful post. I will look forward to carving out an hour for the video.

    Also, a big old hug to you!

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