Tuesday, August 3, 2010

How Ray Bradbury and Albert Einstein taught me to avoid writer's block

To keep your balance, you must keep moving.
I love quotes.
One of my favorites evokes such a powerful image it never fails to inspire and invigorate me. It's from Zen in the Art of Writing, where Ray Bradbury describes his creative process.  "Every morning I jump out of bed and step on a landmine. The landmine is me. After the explosion, I spend the rest of the day putting the pieces together." As if a volcanic explosion wasn't enough to shake things up for me I throw in this subtle kicker from Albert Einstein. "Life like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving."
I love these two mental images, Bradbury jumping out of bed straight into his writing chair, and Einstein, on a bike, eyes twinkling and white hair flying. What Bradbury says to me is just let it all come out in full force. Don't let your mind stop you before you even get started. Don't self-critique in the first draft! After the explosion of words in the a.m., Bradbury spends the afternoon picking out the gems, dusting them off (oh, to pick through such a brilliant slush pile!) and arranging them into interesting shapes. At the end of the day, he's crafted another tale. He wrote over a dozen novels, over 400 short stories, plays and screenplays, children's fiction and non-fiction. His philosophy worked. He's pushing 90 this year and he's still moving.

While I still have to slap myself to keep from editing as I write the first draft, this image has done wonders to give my words the freedom to explode. If I don't get my own way, if I don't question or judge the ridiculous, awkward or alien words that spew forth, eventually something interesting happens. The magic appears. Some gossamer silk thread of a notion floats above the rubbish and if I'm paying attention, I'll follow. "You must keep moving!" shout Bradbury and Einstein at me, in jovial moods.

I don't believe in writer's block. I believe that what happens when I'm stuck, is me standing in the way. Or letting myself get bogged down by life, self-doubt, overcrowding in the cerebral cortex. Wisdom from writing giants like Bradbury and the genius of Einstein help me keep my balance and keep the flow going.

Do you have quotes that help motivate you in your writing? How do you keep track of them? Click here to view my QuotesDaddy favorites.


  1. "Leap and the net will appear!"

    Don't know where it comes from, but I love it!

  2. Gosh I don't have any but I do love your Charles Dickens quote!!! A friend with chocolate is a true friend indeed!

    Thanks for these wonderful quotes - beautiful words - glad they're inspiring you!

    Take care

  3. Rahma..thanks for this wonderful post.
    My favourite quote is "Sometimes in life its not the destination but the journey that is important.'

  4. Kathryn: Love that quote too and Lia Keyes (from Scribblerati) just posted it on her Facebook page, so the mystery is solved. It's from John Burroughs, American naturalist. He has some other great quotes too.

  5. Old Kitty: Yes, that one always makes me smile. Chocolate does indeed perk up my mood!

  6. Rachna: "Sometimes in life its not the destination but the journey that is important.' This is one of my favorite quotes too. A good one to be reminded of, especially for a goal-oriented person like me. Thanks for the reminder!

  7. I love this quote: I don't believe in writer's block. I believe that what happens when I'm stuck, is me standing in the way.

    Thanks for the inspiration.

  8. Thanks Cat, and you can quote me on that. :-)


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