Learning from a Legend: Writing Advice from Ray Bradbury

Last Tuesday, the world lost another literary legend. Ray Bradbury, the science fiction-fantasy master died. He was 91. Bradbury was the author of The Martian Chronicles, Something Wicked This Way Comes, Dandelion Wine, and perhaps his most famous work, Fahrenheit 451, published in 1953. It was a tale that painted a world in which the government used fire departments to burn books to keep people in a condition where they could do the least harm; ignorance. In The Martian Chronicles, he cast a world so ravaged by racial hatred that some people relocated to Mars only to bring Martian civilization to ruin.

Cranking out 1,000 words per day for 70 years, he was one of the most prolific authors of our time publishing books, magazine articles, screenplays and television scripts. And he wrote every day except for weekends which he reserved for his family. He adapted many of his novels and short stories for both the small screen and the Silver Screen. His work was featured on “The Twilight Zone” and “The Ray Bradbury Theater.” The dark worlds he crafted in books and thousands of short stories were reportedly borne from childhood nightmares, a result of being raised in poverty during the Great Depression.

In a 1967 interview, Frank Filosa asked Bradbury to elaborate on his quote from a previous interview:  “Success is a continuing process. Failure is a stoppage. The man who keeps moving and working does not fail.”

Bradbury obliged, indicating that the average young person of that day was too willing to give up when their work was not met with success. “They want to start at the top of their profession and not to learn their art on the way up. That way they miss all the fun.”

His point is poignant. We miss all the fun if we don’t learn this art slowly, patiently while on the way up. He understood that the pleasure is in the process. Bradbury continued. “If you write a hundred short stories and they’re all bad, that doesn’t mean you’ve failed. You fail only if you stop writing…Any man who keeps working is not a failure.”

Today, as I consider the work of literary legend Ray Bradbury, I’m mindful that his most profound words may not be found in his books, but in his life.


The Writer’s Refuge blog is a place for writers, like you, to break away from your daily routine and for just a few minutes find insight, inspiration or simply a word of encouragement.

Blog entries are posted on Thursday.

You may contact me at:  jcmchips1@yahoo.com.


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  1. […] be fourth on the list, but in many ways this is the most important trait for any author to possess. Ray Bradbury put it best: “You fail only if you stop writing…Any man who keeps working is not a failure.” Good […]

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