Ray Bradbury’s advice for being more creative
Every night read:
– one short story
– one poem
– one essay
Do that for a thousand nights and you’ll be stuffed full of ideas pic.twitter.com/35d6Z2V1os
— Austin Kleon (@austinkleon) November 1, 2022
Here’s a clip of Ray Bradbury’s advice for writers in a 2001 keynote, “Telling The Truth.”
He suggested that every night you read:
- one short story
- one poem
- one essay
If you do that for the next thousand nights, he said, you’ll be full up of ideas.
This 1000-day “Ray Bradbury Challenge” came to me via Oleg V, in the comments on my newsletter about one of my favorite tools, the 30-day challenge. (It reminded me a lot of Goethe’s checklist.)
I liked it so much I went back to Bradbury’s Zen in the Art of Writing to see if he had a little more advice along these lines.
“It is my contention that in order to Keep a Muse,” he wrote, “you must first offer food…. If we are going to diet our subconscious, how prepare the menu?”
One thing he emphasizes is that you shouldn’t just feed on what you think you should feed on, but what’s most delicious and what really nourishes you.
“I have fed my Muse on equal parts of trash and treasure,” he wrote, and that often included “comic strips, TV shows, books, magazines, newspapers, plays, and films.”
He said that nothing is lost and you must resist the urge to throw out things that meant so much to you when you were younger.
What is most important, he writes, is “the continual running after loves.”
The constant remains: the search, the finding, the admiration, the love, the honest response to the materials at hand, no matter how shabby they one day seem, when looked back on.
I’m delighted by how much of this resonates with my own methods and what I’ve practiced and preached over the years, the method of “input and output,” but the 1,000 nights advice also delights me because I spent a few Octobers ago reading a short story by Bradbury every night and it was one of the most joyous reading experiences I’ve ever had.
Finally, I took a walk this morning and listened to David Remnick’s piece on Bob Dylan in his 80s:
In order to stave off creative exhaustion and intimations of mortality, Dylan has, over and over again, returned to what fed him in the first place—the vast tradition of American song. Anytime he has been in trouble, he could rely on that bottomless source.