This is the last part in my series of takeaways from Ray Bradbury’s Zen in the Art of Writing.
On Doubt & Trusting Your Gut
“Self-consciousness is the enemy of all art, be it acting, writing, painting, or living itself, which is the greatest art of all.”
So many times Bradbury reinforces the idea that you are merely a vessel through which inspiration pours out. He recalls a time when he was sent to Ireland to write a screenplay for Moby Dick. Bradbury apparently HATED Ireland. He worked over there for about a year before he washed his hands of the country. Several years later, a random cab driver surfaced from a memory about Ireland, and Bradbury found himself writing all sorts of stories inspired by his trip.
First of all, let’s think about how hilarious it is that this man had some dark feelings towards Ireland. Like he went to Mexico and was surrounded by dead people at one point and found it vastly more inspiring than Ireland. Okay. Whatever.
Second, it is at this point that Bradbury suggests that your sub-conscious is really, really powerful. It remembers and picks up on stuff you don’t even know about. Names, places, colors. You have to trust that you were born with an ability to retain information alongside the tools necessary to tell a compelling story about that information.
Don’t doubt! Trust the process. Don’t overthink. You can do it.
Quantity Turns Into Quality
Writing a thousand words every day, Bradbury was a firm believer that you need to invest a lot of time into developing your craft before you can output anything of high quality. There are so many examples of this, it’s almost not worth elaborating any further than that. Put in the time. Get better at what you do so that when opportunities present themselves (and they will, because people will start to take notice), you’ll be ready. You’ll be the surgeon that knows exactly where to place incisions on your patient. Or the artist that knows how to bring a concept to completion in the way they intended it.
We are constantly training when we work. Certain parts of our brain gets stronger the more we exercise it. If we stop then it starts to weaken. Honestly, though? If you’re feeling inspired (which is what the previous parts in this series intended to help with), work will feel like play. And you’ll rack up whatever brain and talent points you need to become really good.
That’s a wrap for this series. Naturally, you should grab a copy of Zen in the Art of Writing as soon as humanly possible. If you’re new to Bradbury’s work, then I recommend checking out the Illustrated Man, which captivated my imagination in middle school. It’s a collection of short stories told through the tattoos of a man. Great stuff.