Ray Bradbury was my favorite author when I was a teenager. He’s still in my top 10.
He’s been my inspiration to write for the last 30 years, and I hope that one day I’ll write a story that touches others the way his many stories influenced me.
Although Ray Bradbury gained fame for Fahrenheit 451, which rightfully belongs alongside fellow 1950s Cold War dystopic novels 1984, Brave New World, and Animal Farm, his enduring legacy is as a short story author.
Having published his first short story in 1938 when he was just 18 years old, he ultimately published more than 600 short stories and 27 novels over the next 70 years.
While nominally a science fiction author, to sell Bradbury as such is to do him a disservice.
The fact is, Bradbury told stories of the human condition that just happened to take place in a science fiction setting. Nowhere is this more prevalent that in The Martian Chronicles. Take these stories out of their red planet setting, and they are just as powerful.
Truth be told, my favorite stories of his weren’t necessarily the science fiction ones.
- The Laurel and Hardy Love Affair
So in my mind Ray Bradbury is the perfect complement to Isaac Asimov.
Bradbury vs. Asimov
Whereas Asimov is a scientist first (with his doctorate in biochemistry) and writer second, Bradbury emphasized the “fiction” in his writing and didn’t sweat the “science” details.
In fact, Bradbury professed a fear of flying, admitting to not understanding, let alone trusting, the science behind it. He never even got a driver’s license.
All of this is to say (as I did, at the start) he is one of my favorite storytellers and a primary inspiration for me as an aspiring writer.
Thus, for those of you who, like me, want to write but find it difficult, or who simply crave some inspiration from one of the masters, I present:
15 Inspirational Quotes for Writers from Ray Bradbury
- Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It’s self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can’t try to do things. You simply must do things.
- If we listened to our intellect, we’d never have a love affair. We’d never have a friendship. We’d never go into business, because we’d be cynical. Well, that’s nonsense. You’ve got to jump off cliffs all the time and build your wings on the way down.
- The great fun in my life has been getting up every morning and rushing to the typewriter because some new idea has hit me.
- Love is the answer to everything. It’s the only reason to do anything. If you don’t write stories you love, you’ll never make it. If you don’t write stories that other people love, you’ll never make it.
- You fail only if you stop writing.
- Stuff your eyes with wonder, live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories.
- You can write a short story in two hours. Two hours a day, you have a novel in a year.
- There’s no one way to be creative. Any old way will work.
- You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.
- Write a short story every week. It’s not possible to write 52 bad stories in a row.
- Write a thousand words a day and in three years you will be a writer.
- Writing is supposed to be difficult, agonizing, a dreadful exercise, a terrible occupation.
- Read poetry every day of your life. Poetry is good because it flexes muscles you don’t use often enough. Poetry expands the senses and keeps them in prime condition. It keeps you aware of your nose, your eye, your ear, your tongue, your hand.
And, above all, poetry is compacted metaphor or simile. Such metaphors, like Japanese paper flowers may expand outward into gigantic shapes. Ideas lie everywhere through the poetry books, yet how rarely have I heard short story teachers recommending them for browsing.
- This afternoon, burn down the house. Tomorrow, pour critical water upon the simmering coals. Time enough to think and cut and rewrite tomorrow. But today-explode-fly-apart-disintegrate! The other six or seven drafts are going to be pure torture. So why not enjoy the first draft, in the hope that your joy will seek and find others in the world who, by reading your story, will catch fire, too?
- I always say to students, give me four pages a day, every day. That’s three or four hundred thousand words a year. Most of that will be bilge, but the rest …? It will save your life!
Feel free to share any favorite Ray Bradbury writing inspiration below, be they quotes or favorite short stories.