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Improve your writing craft with this assignment from author Ray Bradbury

Ray Bradbury 1975

Renowned author Ray Bradbury has an assignment for writers who want to improve their craft.

Read one short story, one poem, and one essay every night for 1,000 nights.

At the end of 1,000 nights, your head will be full of ideas and metaphors along with your own experiences and observations of the people in your life. His aim is for us to make new metaphors out of all of these ideas and images that are bouncing around in our heads. In other words, stuff your head with literature.

Other Bradbury advice: Write short stories instead of a novel as a way of learning.

He suggests beginning and intermediate writers write one short story a week to practice their craft instead of spending a year on a novel and finding it’s not very good because they haven’t learned how to write yet.

If you write one story a week for a year, you’ll have 52 stories at the end of the year and it’s unlikely that they would all be bad, he said.

By doing this, you’ll learn to look for ideas and compact your writing. Bradbury, who began writing at age 12, wrote his first novel, Fahrenheit 451, when he was 30 years old.

Bradbury’s advice comes from a speech he gave at Loma Linda Nazarene University’s 2001 writing symposium. In my next post, I’ll share some books and authors from Bradbury’s recommended reading list.

Bradbury was awarded the National Book Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters in 2000. To learn more about him, visit his website.

9 Comments Post a comment
  1. renajtraxel #

    When I first started writing I started with short stories then tried to write a novel. The first two novels were terrible thankfully I didn’t finish writing them.

    April 2, 2012
    • At least you wrote! Keep at it Rena. I think the magic happens during revisions.

      April 2, 2012
  2. adimauro #

    This is great advice from one of my favorite writers. Fahrenheit 451 and The Martian Chronicles are two of my favorites. I’m ready to start the assignment!

    Actually, I’m a big fan of the short story, always have been. For me, the biggest issue is finding the time. Working full-time (not as a writer) + 2 kids = almost no free time. Plus I’m also an amateur photographer, so fitting in a short story a week will be a challenge. But, I came up with an idea to combine things together: take one of my photos per week, one that really speaks to me, and write a short story inspired by that photo.

    Thank you for the post.

    April 3, 2012
    • I love your idea of using a photo for inspiration! Thanks for your comment.

      April 3, 2012

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