- Buy this product and stream 90 days of Amazon Music Unlimited for free. E-mail after purchase. Conditions apply. Learn more
Zen in the Art of Writing: Essays on Creativity Third Edition/Expanded Paperback – 1 Apr 1994
- Choose from over 13,000 locations across the UK
- Prime members get unlimited deliveries at no additional cost
- Find your preferred location and add it to your address book
- Dispatch to this address when you check out
Special offers and product promotions
Frequently bought together
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Customers who bought this item also bought
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
I hadn’t come across this collection of essays aimed at other writers in the genre until a couple of weeks ago, when I happened on a post on the blog, ‘Books: Publishing, Reading, Writing’, about the blogger’s rereading of Zen in the Art of Writing. I was at once inspired to buy a copy.
More importantly, as a writer, I was inspired to read it. Ray Bradbury’s work is poetic, exciting, evocative, enthralling. So I assumed his ideas on writing would be as rewarding, and I was right.
The book consists of a series of dated essays that recount his experiences, influences, motivations and encounters as a writer. You will not find advice on technique or marketing, language or grammar, story structure or characterisation in these pages, although some of these topics are tangentially referred to along the way. This is a book about what it is to be a writer, what drives that urge to put words on paper, what matters to the author.
I’ve been writing fiction in various forms for more years than I care to consider. Without knowing it, I’ve approached my writing in the same way that Ray Bradbury approached his, except I lacked the luck to be writing in America at the time he started. It was the golden age of science fiction, when the reading public suddenly began to understand that science fiction, far from being a genre for kids who liked comic books, was and is actually a field full of ideas, questions and possible solutions. I was interested to note that Ray advises his readers of this book to acquire a copy of another of my favourite writing books; ‘Becoming a Writer’ by Dorothea Brande. Along with the more recent work by Stephen King, ‘On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft’, these are the only books I urge would-be authors to read before they attempt their first work.
Reading this book has re-ignited my early enthusiasm for writing. Not that I ever lost the urge, but that, over the years, the motivation can dim a little. Ray’s words of wisdom, written in his effortlessly poetic style, empower authors with his idea that the prime emotion you should feel when writing is excitement. If you feel this, the reader will be infected with the same exhilaration. And, it’s true. The emotional state of the writer seeps onto the page, no matter what the scene describes, how the character feels. It is the writer’s state of mind that creeps into the mind of the reader. That’s why honesty is fundamental to good fiction. Any attempt to dupe the reader with an author’s false feelings will seep onto the page and undo that effort.
I’m so pleased I came across this book. I wish I’d read it earlier. It’s good to know that, instinctively, I’ve been following Ray Bradbury’s advice and suggestions for much of my writing life, but reading this book has inspired me to renew my approach to the work of the author, to make sure I enjoy the work and pass on my enthusiasm to my readers. Thank you Ray Bradbury. I’ll now revisit your back catalogue and find the works of yours I didn’t read as a young man and see how many I can read now that I’m older.
1. The essays here span several decades, and yet Bradbury's writing style and tone of voice don't tend to change much. I guess he settled on his voice early on and it just stuck.
2. He talks about his own novels a lot - where the inspiration came from, what it was like to write the story - but he does so with the right modest:humblebrag ratio. In other words, it doesn't grate.
3. There's not a lot of highly usable info here. The central point is this: write more and you will get better. I'm not sure I agree. While it's true that the more you write, the better you will get at writing more, I think without feedback you might find that the writing is simply never improving. There's just more of it.
4. Bradbury lived in a time that has vanished - writers don't get the opportunities he had, and while he certainly worked to achieve his success, the path was not strewn with the obstacles that the writer of today must somehow get past.
5. Boy, he really wanted to get his poetry published somewhere! I didn't read much of it - I'm a poor judge of anything more free-form than a sonnet - but how this ended up here is a mystery.
So should you read this book? I picked it up for a few dollars, and it was probably worth the read. It motivated me to write, so there's that to go in the plus column, if nothing else.
This is very much a book about Bradbury’s unique interpretation of what made him tick as a writer. However, although it may not be laid-out in the format of a guide to writing, I found it brimming with ideas on how to approach everything from note-taking, to coping mechanisms when one’s muse chooses not to play fair. In fact, the chapter dedicated to handling a muse, with its somewhat whimsical look at the psyche of a writer, was my favourite.
Another of the delights of this book, is that Bradbury is generous both in his praise of the writers he admires, and doesn’t hesitate to recommend specific books. His honesty and enthusiasm regarding the highs and lows of his experience of a writer’s lot, are refreshingly explained without any hint of guile, or bile!
A book that I read in an evening, but one that I have no doubt I’ll re-visit at some point. A very good read.