The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Bradbury's Zen

Bradbury wrote a wonderful, short book called "Zen and the Art of Writing" which touches on the state of mind and action that he considered his own path. Considering that he was one of the world's greatest in his chosen discipline, it behooves one to study what he said. If you want to go deeper, compare what he said to others who have achieved mastery, and pay very close attention to anything they say in common.

The most basic rule: you must work. Chop wood, carry water. "A story a week, or a story every other week." Writers: doing short stories is vastly more productive than novels for the unpublished writer.

The same principle applies to other disciplines as well, however. Martial arts or yoga? Train every day. Intellectual disciplines? Every day. Spiritual disciplines? Every day. Preparing oneself for love and a relationship? Daily introspection and action.

Every damned day. When you do this, you enter the flow of your life. Nothing special, just another day of immersion in your path. Only have your Diamond Hour? Fine. Meditate for fifteen minutes, then "flow-write" for forty five. On alternate days, meditate for fifteen and edit for forty five.

Or: read, study, plan, prioritize, exercise...whatever the most important aspect of your life, emphasize it for sixty minutes a day, and you can crush any problem in the world. Then...emphasize the next problem, and the rotation. Mastering your life.

Ray Bradbury, through his writings and presence, was one of the great mentors of my life. His path has never failed me. Nor will it fail you.


1 comment:

Steve Perry said...

I remember this chapbook, or at least reading excerpts from it when I started writing. Do a short story a week for about twenty years, you'll start to get pretty good at it. I took that to heart.

Of course, I lasted only forty weeks or so before I crashed and burned, but it did instill in me the notion that you had to put words on the pages consistently.

I can recall missing a writing day after I'd been at it for a year or so and worrying that I'd forget how if I missed another.

Tony Bennett has a quote I've heard about practicing his vocals. Miss a day, and you notice it. Miss two days and the band notices it. Miss three days, and the audience notices it ...

Adios, Ray. You told some good stories ...