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Zen in the Art of Writing

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  14,851 ratings  ·  1,591 reviews
"Every morning I jump out of bed and step on a land mine. The land mine is me. After the explosion, I spend the rest of the day putting the pieces back together. Now, it's your turn. Jump!"

Zest. Gusto. Curiosity. These are the qualities every writer must have, as well as a spirit of adventure. In this exuberant book, the incomparable Ray Bradbury shares the wisdom, experie
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Paperback, 158 pages
Published March 1st 1992 by Bantam (first published November 1st 1973)
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Pamela Morris Enjoyable, but not what I was looking for. I couldn't relate to a lot of what Bradbury discusses. His difficulties were not mine. It was interesting t…moreEnjoyable, but not what I was looking for. I couldn't relate to a lot of what Bradbury discusses. His difficulties were not mine. It was interesting to learn about his personal process though. (less)

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 ·  14,851 ratings  ·  1,591 reviews


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Jason Koivu
Jul 06, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: writing
WHOOP! POW! Ray Bradbury's book on writing is BAMMO! The man's enthusiasm leaps off the page, and if nothing else, that exuberance will carry you with a full head of steam straight from this book and into your own book. Reading Zen in the Art of Writing is like having the best kind of encouraging friend pat you on the back while shouting "YOU CAN DO IT!!!"

Although some of his ideas and style is dated, there's still a great deal to be absorbed herein, after all, he is one of the best American wr
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Ahmad Sharabiani
Zen in the Art of Writing, Ray Bradbury
Zen in the Art of Writing: Essays on Creativity is a collection of essays by Ray Bradbury and published in 1990. The unifying theme is Bradbury's love for writing.
Essays included are:
The Joy of Writing (1973)
Run Fast, Stand Still, Or, The Thing At the Top of the Stairs, Or, New Ghosts From Old Minds (1986)
How To Keep and Feed a Muse (1961)
Drunk, and in Charge of a Bicycle (1980)
Investing Dimes: Fahrenheit 451 (1982)
Just This Side of Byzantium: Dandelion Win
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Spencer Orey
Jan 27, 2020 rated it liked it
Read this if you're a huge Bradbury fan and want to read more about him and the famous things he wrote. It's not great if you're looking for practical information for aspiring writers or advanced tools for writers who want to improve their craft. I'm a Bradbury fan, so I liked the book. But overall, it felt pretty out of touch for aspiring writers today. I guess it's valuable as a statement of how things used to be in the writers market?

In terms of writing advice, it kind of boils down to "be i
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Shane
Jul 25, 2009 rated it really liked it
There are a lot of reviews written about this short but excellent book written in the tradition of Stephen King's "On Writing", or the other way around, given that Bradbury wrote his tome first. Yet there is an energy in this book that is infectious and it points the finger to us as writers to say - "get serious about this art or get out." His prescriptions for writing are no less demanding:
1) Write one short story a week for 5 years. Perhaps after this rigour, some good stuff might come out (Br
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Paperback
Oct 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Short version: This is the best writing book I have ever read.
Long version: This isn't going to be a very eloquent review. Good books on writing are difficult to find. For several of my classes, professors have assigned books about writing techniques, and all of them have been terrible. Some of them have graphs, others have ways of mapping out character development, but generally these books try to break writing down to its skeletal form and make a biology lesson of it. It ends up being overly
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Virginie
I have to start with a confession: this is my first book by Bradbury. It could seem strange to begin with this essay/memoir, but I wanted to see what he had to say about the writing process. Now, I want to read his novels even more, because he talks about creativity the same way I do. He seems touched by the same things I am.

My 3* rating may be difficult to understand. In fact, I had to skim through some less interesting parts... but there were also some treasures among those essays, so it was t
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Kenny
Jun 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a fantastic book, and a quick read to boot.
Riku Sayuj
Jan 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
Nothing particularly new is told but Ray writes with such a passion and gusto that the book becomes a joy to read. References to stories and novels that I have not read abound and hence it was difficult to follow the train of thought. The poems at the end were a real bonus.
Jessica
Feb 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
"You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you."
Brian
May 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, non-fiction


Another update 5/19/20: Bradbury suggests reading poetry every day. Even if you don't get it, try. I don't get it. Still trying. Every day. Reading Whitman.

Update 5/16/20: The best advice comes back to me when I need it, although I can't recall when I want it, such as writing a review (get my lazy bones in a notepad while I read).

Two things have come back to me:
1. Bradbury gives the stages in beginning: Work-Relaxation-No Thinking. This applies to writing, but applies to everything requiring eff
...more
Gabrielle
A short, (obviously) gorgeously written little collection of essays on the topic of writing.

If you are looking for a practical guide, this is not the book for you: I think that in collecting those little snippets, Mr. Bradbury was looking for to inspire and encourage rather than to actually give a master class on writing. In fact, it seems evident to me reading it that his own process was so spontaneous that he could not have given much practical advice had he been pressed to.

Mostly, these essay
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Kate Savage
Aug 22, 2014 rated it liked it
Do I want to try to write like Ray Bradbury? No, I don't think so. But I once sat in that middle school English class listening to a cassette tape with the gravelly-voice narration of The Veldt and thought the shudder in my spine was some holy spirit saying I had found the apex of the literary arts. And anyway I'm desperate and will take advice anywhere.

Here's a list of his most compelling pointers:
1) Write every day.
2) Make a list of nouns that get at you in some way.
These will be the centers
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Barbara (The Bibliophage)
No one writes quite like Ray Bradbury. Perhaps that’s an understatement, but as I was reading Zen in the Art of Writing, I was again reminded of his brilliance. He has impeccable control of the English language. But at the same time, his sentences are playful and colorful. His thinking is philosophical and, at the same time lighthearted.

“But ideas lie everywhere, like apples fallen and melting in the grass for lack of wayfaring strangers with an eye and a tongue for beauty, whether absurd, horri
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Jason
Aug 16, 2007 added it
If you're looking for the book that finally teaches you everything you ever wanted to know about writing - the book that will finally give you the key to the famous author's success - this one isn't for you. On one hand, no such book exists. On the other, Ray Bradbury's "Zen and the Art of Writing" is less about the craft and mechanics of writing than one man's passion and zeal for good old-fashioned fun stories.

Bradbury has been criticized for being overly sentimental and rightfully so. At tim
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Larraine
Apr 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
"Every morning I jump out of bed and step on a land mine. The land mine is me. After the explosion, I spend the rest of the day putting the pieces back together. Now, it's your turn. Jump!"

I'm not sure what prompted me to read this book. There's a part of me that's always wanted to write, but I've lacked the self discipline. Of course, I also lack self confidence. Unlike most writers, I have never felt the need to write every day. At least, I didn't think I did.



I remember being asked to write
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Rachel
Meh. I was bored.

I know I am committing a sacrilege by saying that this book was boring. The book is a collection of essays on the craft of writing Bradbury wrote over the years for various publications. Bradbury comes off self-aggrandizing and pretentious. The most interesting part of the book were his inspirations for his greater known work. Don't get me wrong, I like Bradbury but just not this book. I'm well aware others may disagree but my two cents are being proffered for free.
Darwin8u
Will review later. A nice set of essays on writing.
Kevin
Nov 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Ray Bradbury is one of my favorite authors, when I was a kid I devoured his books of short stories and novels. I'd never come across this book however, which I picked up not to become a writer but to better understand how an author weaves the magic that he does. In one of the books essays INVESTING DIMES: FAHRENHEIT 451

I have spun more stories, novels, essays, and poems about writers than any other writer in history that I can think of. I have written poems about Melville, Melville and Emily Dic
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Leo Robertson
Nov 03, 2013 rated it liked it
Bradbury was a good-natured mad man and a hard worker. I haven't read a single thing of his fiction that I have yet liked, but he does have some good advice:

"It is a lie to write in such a way as to be rewarded by money in the commercial market.
It is a lie to write in such a way as to be rewarded by fame offered you by some snobbish quasi-literary group in the intellectual gazettes."

"You just say, 'Well, hell, I don't need depression. I don't need worry. I don't need to push.' The ideas will fol
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Cindy Rollins
Apr 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
#20for2020 Book of Essays

Finally got around to this and absolutely adored it.
Bradbury clearly illustrates in these essays that we can only write if we creep past the gate keepers and their snobby critiques. Very encouraging! Nothing Zen about modern attempts to can writing instruction. If it’s in a can it’s modern not classic.

Loved his poetry to. All this from a man without the validation of a degree.


GO PANTHER-PAWED WHERE ALL THE MINED TRUTHS SLEEP


Not smash and grab, but rather find and keep
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Kogiopsis
Jul 30, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: reviewed
All due respect to Mr. Bradbury, but quite frankly I don't really see the point of this book.

The thing is that doing something and teaching others how to do it are vastly different skills, and they don't necessarily overlap. I spent the past year tutoring kids in reading, and the first thing I learned was how difficult it was to translate a skill that came naturally to me into something that would help beginners. Ray Bradbury was clearly someone for whom writing came naturally (he has a lot to s
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Dee Arr
Jul 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reference
Ray Bradbury’s book is actually a collection of previously published essays, pulled together under one roof. Some of the essays were originally book intros while others were published in other books or magazines.

I purchased the book without reading the advertising blurb, seeking to learn secrets from one of my favorite authors. Alas, there is no secret, and one of the most prolific and descriptive writers is extremely mundane in his advice to aspiring writers. In short, WORK, RELAXATION, DON’T
...more
Tom
Jan 04, 2011 rated it did not like it
Read this while sitting in the basement of the Camden, NJ courthouse, wearing my Juror badge, and trying not to hear CNN's droningly repetitive news coverage (although, have you seen the image of all the dead birds in Arkansas? Jesus, the plagues have begun) and I picked it because it was pocket-sized and figured to be an easy read. Which it was. Not to say it was particularly fulfilling or interesting. There are a handful of pages in here that have legitimate, useful writing advice, although mo ...more
Jeanne
Nov 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I spent my college years reading Ray Bradbury, but probably haven't read anything of his since. My loss. Reading Bradbury again, in this case his writing memoir, Zen in the Art of Writing, reminds me both of that time – and also gives me a peak at his views on creativity and his writing process.

What's his process? He sums it up as:
WORK.
That’s the first one.
RELAXATION.
That’s the second. Followed by two final ones:
DON’T THINK! (p. 103)
Bradbury worked hard, day in and day out. He is credited w
...more
Ana-Maria Petre
Aug 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Thoroughly enjoyable and easily compelling.
Patrick Sherriff
Jan 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: on-writing
This is an antidote to the current belief in writing to market, that if you just know your tropes, put in the hours and market like there's no tomorrow, you too will be a success. Bradbury says phooey to that. In these 11 essays and selection of poems -- yes, poems -- Bradbury articulates a business model, er, I mean philosophy, that focuses on trusting and feeding your subconscious, then producing work you are passionate about that will find a market because it is good, dang it. And if it doesn ...more
Victoria
Apr 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dear uncle Ray!

I am once again bewitched by the magic of your words, which you left for me and millions of other readers.

Thank you for combining all your essays and creating such an inspiring speech not only for future writers, but for any person who wants to do something in this world. Most of all I liked these ideas:
- You don't complain about the hardships of writing, but stress that one should have fun with anything one does. If you're not having fun and if you're not joyful when you create s
...more
John
Apr 18, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: writing
Zen in the Art of Writing is a collection of Bradbury essays garnered from a wide variety of publications over a span of twenty years or so--making it a very uneven little book indeed. A couple of the essays were written as introductions to his novels, and reading them without that context makes them feel rather misplaced and self-congratulatory. Much of the book is autobiographical in nature, and, other than giving you a glimpse into Bradbury's own creative process (which I don't think would wo ...more
Halley Sutton
Nov 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I will undoubtedly reread this, oh, weekly. I think I'm actually in love with Ray Bradbury, not even figuratively-- it's the great Hamlet of my life that he's dead so we could never date. Could have done without some of the poems at the end, but I loved it and found it pretty inspiring overall.
Florin Pitea
Aug 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A pleasant and instructive read. Recommended especially to writers.
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Ray Douglas Bradbury, American novelist, short story writer, essayist, playwright, screenwriter and poet, was born August 22, 1920 in Waukegan, Illinois. He graduated from a Los Angeles high school in 1938. Although his formal education ended there, he became a "student of life," selling newspapers on L.A. street corners from 1938 to 1942, spending his nights in the public library and his days at ...more

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