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Zen in the Art of Writing: Essays on Creativity 0th Edition

86 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1877741098
ISBN-10: 1877741094
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Joshua Odell Editions (August 1, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1877741094
  • ISBN-13: 978-1877741098
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (86 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #18,238 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

In a career spanning more than seventy years, Ray Bradbury, who died on June 5, 2012, at the age of 91, inspired generations of readers to dream, think, and create. A prolific author of hundreds of short stories and close to fifty books, as well as numerous poems, essays, operas, plays, teleplays, and screenplays, Bradbury was one of the most celebrated writers of our time. His groundbreaking works include Fahrenheit 451, The Martian Chronicles, The Illustrated Man, Dandelion Wine, and Something Wicked This Way Comes. He wrote the screen play for John Huston's classic film adaptation of Moby Dick, and was nominated for an Academy Award. He adapted sixty-five of his stories for television's The Ray Bradbury Theater, and won an Emmy for his teleplay of The Halloween Tree. He was the recipient of the 2000 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, the 2004 National Medal of Arts, and the 2007 Pulitzer Prize Special Citation, among many honors.

Throughout his life, Bradbury liked to recount the story of meeting a carnival magician, Mr. Electrico, in 1932. At the end of his performance Electrico reached out to the twelve-year-old Bradbury, touched the boy with his sword, and commanded, "Live forever!" Bradbury later said, "I decided that was the greatest idea I had ever heard. I started writing every day. I never stopped."

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

155 of 162 people found the following review helpful By Just Bill on February 27, 2002
Format: Paperback
Ray Bradbury is my favorite author. So much so that I named my Scottish Fold cat "Bradbury" in honor of him.
And it's all because of books like this.
Zen in the Art of Writing is classic Bradbury: the crisp, short sentences, the vivid mental imagery, the amazing insights into his own writings -- all of it. This book uplifts me, moves me and fills me with awe.
It is, without a doubt, the best book on writing I have ever read.
Why? Because what he shares seems as pertinent to me as if he wrote it FOR me. Example: Page 17. One day, he discovered that his story titles were nothing more than a list of nouns, such as The Lake. The Night. The Monster. The Town Clock. The Carousel. The Crowd.
Such simplicity. Yet, after reading this book I found myself creating my own mental list of titles the same way. Suddenly, just about anything seemed ripe for a story, and infused with some hidden, dark meaning.
The Man on the Corner. The Empty Room. The Ten Foot Oak Tree. The Noise in the Basement. The Tea Leaf. The Knight and the Bishop.
I don't know why it works for me, but it does. Each of those "titles" (that I just came up with as I'm writing this) could be fleshed out into a story. For some reason, when I see things as nouns, my imagination is uncorked and I begin to feel the urge to explore the thoughts invoked.
Try it sometime.
Another example: The chapter "How to Keep and Feed a Muse." Priceless. Magical. He shares ways to awaken the sleeping giant within...and set pen to paper with stellar results.
If you're a writer, you need this book. If you're a lover of Bradbury, you need this book. If you just want to know how one of the 20th century's most lauded authors achieved that status, you need this book.
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58 of 59 people found the following review helpful By Stan Gibilisco on March 28, 2003
Format: Paperback
Ray Bradbury takes you on mind journeys into his past, and perhaps into your future. He treads on the edge of reality, sneaking glances over the precipice, knowing that to jump means to fly.
I bought this book in Miami Beach. I picked it from among other writing-related books when I opened it and saw a chapter entitled "Drunk, and in Charge of a Bicycle."
This book is not about writing mechanics or technique. It forces you to face two absolute requirements for being a writer:
(1) You must love to write and do it every day, and
(2) You must use your own voice.
According to the author, the desire for fame, money, or literary elitism is as useless as a computer without software. (I would suggest that it's more like a program without a computer. Whatever.)
The last chapter, and the concluding poems, are inspiring. Mr. Bradbury knows that writers despise untruths. I finished his book in two evenings. When I put it down I said, "Yeah." Next morning I would be up dark and early. Writing is hard. Everything else is harder.
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37 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Kendal B. Hunter on September 25, 2007
Format: Paperback
This book is like getting a transfusion. Not of blood, but of Ray Bradbury's enthusiasm. His motto was "Exactly one-half terror, one-half exhilaration." Well, this book takes out the terror of writing, and leaves us with pure exhilaration.

Even if you are not a writer, you may want to get this book just for Bradbury's zest.

This book is a tight tapestry of several ideas. It is part autobiographical, with the story of him ripping up his Buck Rodger's comics because his friends (like Job's friends) mocked him. Later he ripped up his friends as he stood strong for his conations and returned to his true bliss.

Bradbury also retells the story of his meeting Mr. Electrico at the carnival. Besides being the basis of "The Illustrated Man" and "Something Wicked This Way Comes," this meeting with the carne was Bradbury's equivalent of First Communion. He was never the same afterwards.

He also has some "nuts and bolts" tips for writers.

1. Let yourself explode. There are two types of explosions. One is the IED (improvised explosive device), where you just go to pieces. But there is also the explosion of popcorn. Be popcorn. Drop your restraints and inhibitions.

2. Write 1,000 words a day. This is not a whole lot, the equivalent of one full review. Trust me it works--it gets the garbage out of system. Practice makes perfect.

3. Follow a weekly regimen. Monday write. The next few days rewrite what you have written. This is crap filtration. Saturday send off the manuscript. Wash, rinse, repeat.

4. Don't think. That is, don't over think. Listen to your subconscious--that shadowy figure in the back of your heart that keeps talking to you. She tells you what is right or wrong.
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44 of 47 people found the following review helpful By A. Wolverton VINE VOICE on June 9, 2002
Format: Paperback
If you've ever wondered, "Why aren't people more passionate about their work?" then you've never read 'Zen in the Art of Writing.' Whether or not you happen to like Ray Bradbury's work, you can't dispute his passion for writing, which is evident from page one.
Bradbury (who turns 82 this year) is a writer of enormous output. In this series of essays, the author lets us in on many of his secrets, but the bottom line is this: If you love what you do, and are excited about it, nothing can stop you. Much of Bradbury's writing is connected with his childhood experiences and memories, which allows him to jump into writing like a kid jumping into a swimming pool on a hot summer day. Bradbury recounts many of his writing experiences and influences in the book and they are all fascinating. I can't imagine any writer (or lover of stories) who would not enjoy this book. It can be read in an afternoon, but savored for a lifetime. Thank you, Mr. Bradbury, for a real treasure.
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