Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Ray Bradbury on writing

Way back when, I took some painting classes. I remember the art faculty being dominated by a professor who believed everything had to be intellectualized. You couldn't put a mark on the canvas unless you had a rational, well-thought out reason for doing so. No other approach was acceptable.

I found this method. for me, killed creativity dead on the spot.

So I'm happy to find Ray Bradbury, an artist and writer I admire, also gives this approach short shrift. When asked about writing, he had this to say:

"You don't pay attention to what anyone else says. No opinions. The important thing is to explode with the story, to emotionalize the story. If you start to think the story, it’s going to die on its feet. It’s like anything else: if an athlete is running around the high hurdles and he starts thinking about it, he’s doomed. He’s going to knock it down. People who take books to bed become frigid. You can’t think a story. 'I shall do a story to improve all mankind', well it’s nonsense. All the worthwhile stories and plays are emotional experiences. If you have to ask yourself if you love a girl or a boy, forget it, you don’t. You either feel a story and need to write it, or you better not write it.

I am a dedicated madman and that becomes its own training. If you can’t resist if the typewriter is like candy to you, you train yourself for a lifetime. Every single day of your life some wild new thing to be done. You write to please yourself. You write for the joy of writing. Then your public reads you and it begins to gather around your selling a potato peeler in an alley
you know. The enthusiasm the joy itself draws me. So that means every day of my life I’ve written. When the joy stops I’ll stop writing."

Personally, I think this sounds like a much more emotionally healthy approach than what got drummed into my brain all those years ago.

See more of the interview (which has been charmingly animated) here.

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