Adventures in Career Changing | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Exposition zen

Check Out This Book Review on Zen in the Art of Writing


So for the social media writing class at Quinnipiac, we were required to purchase Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury. However, the book proved to be optional.

Yet I read it from cover to cover, and I just plain devoured that thing.

Fiction Writing Zen

So as a fiction writer, I particularly loved his ideas about how to, well, get ideas. On Page 33, he wrote –

“… in a lifetime, we stuff ourselves with sounds, sights, smells, tastes, and textures of people, animals, landscapes, events, large and small. We stuff ourselves with these impressions and experiences and our reaction to them. Into our subconscious go not only factual data but reactive data, or movement toward or away from the sense of events.

“These are the stuffs, the foods, on which the Muse grows.”

This is not just why writers should also be voracious readers. It is also exactly why writers need to have lives. We need to travel, have relationships, cook, consume media, work out, get involved in politics, and do all the other things that make up a life. Without knowing the trappings of living, it can be hard to write about it.

But not impossible. After all, people have been writing genders that are not their own since at least Homer wrote the Iliad.

Spoiler Alert: I Loved It

First of all, that is just a great way of looking at things. Because what Bradbury is doing is essentially giving the aspiring writer permission to get inspiration from everywhere, and from everything. Since the smallest memories can do it. So don’t give up on your weirdness. And don’t suppress it. I love this concept.

Adventures in Career Changing | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Personal Writing Process zen in the art of writing

What is your personal writing process?

Furthermore, on Page 50, he writes about praise. And as writers, we might aspire to everyone loving us, and buying our works or at least reading them or, at minimum, being aware of them.

However, Bradbury offers a rather different definition of success –

“We all need someone higher, wiser, older to tell us we’re not crazy after all, that what we’re doing is all right. All right, hell, fine!”

Therefore, really, it is okay to want to be loved. And it is one hundred percent, totally okay to be weird.

Who knew?

Zen Takeaways

I recommend this writing book above all others. Yes, really! It is just that good.

Review: 5/5 stars.

One response

  1. THE STUDENT Doken was told to go on a long journey to another
    monastery. He was much upset, because he felt that this trip would
    interrupt his studies for many months. So he said to his friend,
    the advanced student Sogen:

    “Please ask permission to come with me on the trip. There are so
    many things I do not know; but if you come along we can discuss
    them – in this way I can learn as we travel.”

    “All right,” said Sogen. “But let me ask you a question: If you
    are hungry, what satisfaction to you if I eat rice? If your feet
    are lame, what comfort to you if I go on merrily? If your bladder
    is full, what relief to you if I piss?”


    Zen is a rabbit hole. It has a shallow end and a deep end. How deep you go is your choice. Of course every degree of depth sings songs never to be forgotten.

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