Monday, October 20, 2014

Book Review: "Zen in the Art of Writing: Releasing the Creative Genius Within You" by Ray Bradbury and Guest Post at Traveling with T

Click here to read my guest post over at Traveling with T!

Did you guys participate in the Dewey's 24 hour readathon?  It was my first one, I only participated in a cheerleader capacity (Team Butler!) and I had so much fun! I don't think I could stay up and read for 24 hours but I will try one of these years. For now, I will just wave my pompoms! It was a really fun 24 hours to be on twitter!

Last year I was messing around on Goodreads, as I am apt to do (you can friend me if you like!) and made a fantastic discovery: a Ray Bradbury book I'd never heard of! This is not to say I've read all of his books, but I thought I had at least heard of all of them before. (Oh Wesley, how prideful of you). Anyway this was the book and I was so pleased to find it and now I'm so pleased to share it with you!

So it's not a story per se, but a collection of essays. Ray wrote almost his whole life, and it was a long life, he died in his 90s. He wrote this book about how he wrote, what helped him, his writing habits and the like. The book title cracks me up because it sounds like something that they would sell on QVC at 4 am and some struggling writer would buy it and hope that it would help him write a blockbuster. But I digress. Some of Ray's most famous quotes come out of these essays and the stories are great.

I really love some of the titles of the essays, like "Drunk, and in charge of a bicycle" (been there,amirite? haha) or the name of the preface "How to climb the tree of life, throw rocks at yourself, how to get down again without breaking your bones or your spirit: a preface with a title not much longer than the book". He isn't joking this is a fast read at only about 158 pages. (Honestly if you have an English/Creative Writing/something wordsy or artsy major in your life, get this book for them for their birthday or a holiday or what have you. Inspirational, thoughtful and books always make the best gifts).

From what I gather from this book I'd say there are a few ways to "release you're creative genius"

- Experience things. Don't sit around "contemplating your navel". Go do things, have experiences, talk to people, do things that scare you. It's a good way to get material and have a good and interesting life.

-Write everyday. Write down things that seem strange to you, things that scare you, things that puzzle you. Write write write write. Even if you think something is bad, or you don't really understand what to do with it, don't throw it away. Put it in a folder and tuck it away. A lot of Ray's stories he got from looking back on things from when he first began to write and improving on them.

-Read. Good readers make good writers. Take notice of the things that you love to read, words you love, settings that you are intrigued by. Take note of the things that drive you crazy and remember that when you're writing too.

Quick story: Ray wrote Fahrenheit 451 in the basement of  a library at UCLA. They had rows and rows of typewriters you could rent, you just put a dime into the machine and it bought you half an hour of writing time. So there Ray sat in a slightly creeping musty basement, on the clock, typing away at the book that would become his masterpiece. Also two of the main characters in F451 are named Faber and Montag. He realized years later that Faber is a pencil manufacturer and Montag was a paper manufacturer. How fitting for a book about books, the tools of the trade. (Also, subconsciousness are tricky things!)

I loved this book. I squealed in delight once or twice reading it.I loved hearing the back stories of some of my favorite of his works and how his brain ticked. I give it a 4 out of 5!

Zen in the Art of Writing


  1. Based on the title, I wasn't at all interested in this book, but I love Bradbury and it sounds like this could be a really fun book for me as a fan, even though I'm not an aspiring author :)

    1. That's exactly what I was thinking. I'm not a writer so is this something I'd find interesting? But then I remembered that if Ray wrote out his procedure for organizing his sock drawer I'd read it, so I picked it up. Haha.


Thank you so much for your comment. I'd love to talk books with you!