Writing Zazen

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Drunk on writing – Ray Bradbury

Filed under: Daily Practice,Inspiration — Shelley-Lynne Domingue @ 4:45 pm
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Ray Bradbury passed away today at 91 years old. He has always provided me with the best writing inspiration. His ideas have always felt like that element of play or better yet, that child who never grows up and continues to access that part of the mind that is spontaneous, and fun and ready to explore. Here are some quotes of his that have inspired me over the years:

“I don’t think I know what writers block is. I never had it. My typewriter goes everywhere I go. I get up at 3am everyday, head for the keyboard, laugh a lot, then go to bed. It takes him 2 hours to write a poem, half a day to finish a short story, 9 days for a full – scale novel.
His secret?
Let your subconscious take over, keep your intellect out of the  way. Be passionate about what you’re doing. When you start a love affair, the last thing you want to be is critical right? Don’t look back just write. Go and write.
EY notes – Too funny, lately in my journal,  I’ve been writing about love affairs and infatuation related to writing. You know the beginning butterflies of a new relationship and how you can survive on hardly any sleep? I’ve been trying to translate that into my writing practice. Make it like a new relationship where I’m optimistic about the new person, where everything looks great in the world, every song seems like a love song.

More Ray Bradbury:

All that stuff that’s collected up in my head — poetry and mythology and comic strips and science fiction magazines — comes out in my stories. So you get to a certain age and you’re like a pomegranate, you just burst. And the ideas spill out.

My stories run up and bite me in the leg — I respond by writing down everything that goes on during the bite. When I finish, the idea lets go and runs off.

And what, you ask, does writing teach us?

First and foremost, it reminds us that we are alive and that it is gift and a privilege, not a right. We must earn life once it has been awarded us. Life asks for rewards back because it has favored us with animation.
So while our art cannot, as we wish it could, save us from wars, privation, envy, greed, old age, or death, it can revitalize us amidst it all. (From the preface to Zen in the Art of Writing)

If you can’t read and write you can’t think. Your thoughts are dispersed if you don’t know how to read and write. You’ve got to be able to look at your thoughts on paper and discover what a fool you were. (Salon.com, August 29, 2001)
On Ideas –  “They come from inside, for their own reasons. I wake up every morning and there’s a new one there and it says, ‘I’m next! Write me!’ So I write it. I never know what I’m going to write from day to day.”

“Write about what interests you. Write and read every day. Keep the juices flowing. If you write what you love, you never have a dry spell.”

“The people who have mental blocks are the people who do things they shouldn’t be doing. The people who take screenplays they shouldn’t write or books they shouldn’t write – they’re going to wind up with dry spells, because their subconscious says, ‘I’m going to cut off the water works!”

“There’s an Egyptian myth I heard about years ago that when you die as an Egyptian and you go off to visit the gods the first question asked of you at the gates of heaven is ‘Did you have enthusiasm?’ And if you answer negatively you don’t get in.

Optimal behavior – I ask of you and others optimal behavior, and if you behave every day, and get your work done, and do it with love, at the end of a day, a week, a month, a year, whatever, you have a feeling of optimism — because you have done your work. If you don’t do your work , you get depressed and you’re pessimistic. There are the two opposites right there.

“I have an ant farm in my head. Metaphors and ideas crawling all over each other.”
When a book really needs to be written. It’s urgent, like literary appendicitis. In writing, you operate on yourself and save yourself.

“I’m not in charge. My subconscious does all the work. When it’s ready to do something it does it. I don’t think about these things — they just happen automatically. Time passes, sometimes you finish things quicker — in a week or a month, sometimes it’s two or three years.”
There’s a time between waking up and being fully awake when your mind is relaxed and things come to you and you are surprised by them and you jump out of bed and run and write them down.

I’m very unusual in that I write a series of short stories, and then very late on in time, discover I’ve written a book.

I think we’re all born to become ourselves and our job in life is to find out just who in hell we are, because we don’t always know that immediately. Over a period of time you experiment and try and find out where your true self lies.

Ray Bradbury

Over the past five decades, Bradbury has managed to create a tremendous amount of work in several genres, including short stories, plays, novels, film scripts, poems, children’s books, and nonfiction. He attributes this prolific production to a consistent daily writing routine. He also utilizes a spontaneous writing technique similar to the automatic writing of the surrealists.

If you stuff yourself full of poems, essays, plays, stories, novels, films, comic strips, magazines, music, you automatically explode every morning like Old Faithful. I have never had a dry spell in my life, mainly because I feed myself well, to the point of bursting. I wake early and hear my morning voices leaping around in my head like jumping beans. I get out of bed quickly, to trap them before they escape.”—Ray Bradbury

The Ray Bradbury Routine – 1000 words a day – “Everyday for 2 hours, I begin a new short story, sometimes finishing  it, or write an essay or poem. This routine has continued for sixty five years.”
1 – Write Daily – if you don’t write daily, what would happen is that the world would catch up with  and try to sicken you. If you did not write everyday, the poisons would accumulate and you would begin to die, or act crazy, or both.
2 – Gently lie and prove the lie true …everything is finally a promise… what seems a lie is a ramshackle need, wishing to be born…
3 – Formula – Find a character, like yourself, who will want something or not want something, with all her heart. Give her running orders. Shoot her off. Then follow as fast as you can go. The character, in her great love, or hate, will rush you through to the end of the story.”
4 – Write quick. In quickness is truth. The faster you blurt, the more swiftly you write, the more honest you are. In hesitation is thought. In delay comes the effort for a style, instead of leaping upon truth which is the only style worth dead falling or tiger-trapping
5 – Write at least thousand words a day everyday; discover the treats and tricks that come with word association; put down brief notes and descriptions of loves and hates.

6 – make lists of titles, put down long lists of nouns. Run through those lists, pick a noun and then sit down to write a long prose poem-essay-story on it.

You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you. ~Ray Bradbury
EY Notes – That is my favourite quote. I remember when I used to work  at a Department Store back in the day. Any one who works in customer service knows that working with the general public can be trying. People can be rude, demanding, exhausting. It can be easy to start your day in a great mood and have someone wipe it right out. I learned how to stay away from giving up my energy or my good moods by keeping my focus on what I was going to write when I got home from work. A customer could be rude and I could just let it slide off my shoulders without a care because I would always bring my focus back to my writing. Even with friends then, I never got involved with the jealousies. If I was left out of an invitation I shrugged my shoulders and kept my focus on my writing. That to me is being drunk on writing. I used to have a saying then that I kept in mind, “If I notice what everybody else is doing, I’ve taken my eyes off the goal.” If there was ever a great goal for me to have again, it’s to go back to being drunk on writing. 😉



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