nine zen tips

These tips are from Ray Bradbury’s Zen in the Art of Writing which is a fun book I read ages ago.

Now this is the thing with advice, and more specifically with advice that demands you to create a habit: often, you won’t. As in, you aren’t going to follow all these tips. Some of them are unique to Bradbury (“make him run”), others have been stated by other creatives (ira glass, “each week write a story”), but the one I’ve been following most consistently is the one on reading poetry.

  1. Find a character, give him something he strives for with all his heart and then every day write something that will absolutely turn down the story and see how the character deals with it. Make him run.
  2. Conjure a list of nouns: “The [Something]” and use that list as titles for short stories to come.
  3. Read poetry every day of your life.
  4. Read books of essays.
  5. Read short stories, novels.
  6. Write a thousand words a day.
  7. Write a short story a week.
  8. On Monday morning write the first draft of a new story. On Tuesday a second draft. On Wednesday a third. On Thursday a fourth. On Friday a fifth. And on Saturday the sixth and final draft (then send it off if you can). On Sunday think about all the ideas still crammed in your head.
  9. One thousand or two thousand words a day for the next twenty years. A short story a week for the next five years. Start now and get the work done.

This book is titled Zen and considering that I read regularly from Leo Babuta’s blog zen habits I can see how Bradbury can take that idea and associate it with the art of writing.

Enjoy writing, and when it’s difficult enjoy that feeling of frustration. Find zen in the art of writing.


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