Write a hell of a lot …

… and stuff your head full of books, short stories, poems and essays! Ray Bradbury says this, and it echoes the writerly advice of pretty much every published author.

He also says that writers need to stop bleeding out on the keyboard, and instead commit the blasphemy (my term for it) of enjoying what they do. That seems hard in the era of playground bully politics, pandemic fallout, social justice struggles that bring back the tension–for everyone–of both the Civil Rights era and Cold War paranoia. Times are hard. How can somebody type joyfully?

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Well … the same way Ray Bradbury did, that’s how.

Just like every generation of teenagers thinks they invented being cool, every generation of adults thinks they invented social crises. I recently had a conversation with my mother that stopped me in my mental tracks: I asked her to avoid watching the news while my daughter was with her; there was heavy California wildfire footage, and wildfires are my little girl’s personal terror. She has nightmares about them any time she’s anxious. (Mine is tornadoes … ever since my childhood in Florida, where they are common.)

Mom nodded at me and said, “I totally understand. I remember when Vietnam … when the news would come on, I had to leave. I couldn’t watch it. It gave me nightmares. All those boys dying.”

Her words gave me pause. She lived through that. Ray Bradbury did, too. She lived–still lives–with a fierce sort of optimism, and clearly, so did R.B.

Nobody can tell you what kind of mood to be in to approach the keyboard. But if you’re on the fence, and you want to love the act of writing, but think you’re supposed to open your veins and bleed instead of giggle softly like a kid at hard work imagining things … Mr. Bradbury salutes you. Go ahead. Enjoy it. You might as well.

For more mood-lifting writing advice, find a copy of Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury, and read it.

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