Ray Bradbury’s Keynote Address from TELLING THE TRUTH, 2001 on ‘Enjoying Our Work’

A glimpse of “Do what you love, love what you do” mental construct.

In 2001, sci-fi author Ray Bradbury walks to the podium and regales his readers with anecdotes from his life, further giving valuable writing advice in TELLING THE TRUTH, his remarkable keynote address at the Sixth Annual Writer’s Symposium by the Sea. His keynote brims invaluable wisdom particular reflecting on ‘why you should write’.

What catches my attention, though it’s not technically a commencement speech, are a few words of clarity from within this one-hour long session, which has a universal edge, and hence, goes beyond the vocation of writing onto all sorts of things we call work. In inference, his advice on writing manages to bring insight on ‘doing what we love to do’ and ‘how we should perceive and treat our work’. I have hand-picked those particular lines from there that seem to hold an understanding of universal significance:

On writing what you love:

I want your loves to be multiple. I don’t want you to be a snob about anything. Anything you love, you do it. It’s got to be with a great sense of fun. Writing is not a serious business. It’s a joy and a celebration. You should be having fun with it. Ignore the authors who say “Oh, my God, what word? Oh, Jesus Christ…”, you know. Now, to hell with that. It’s not work. If it’s work, stop and do something else.

Now, what I’m thinking of is, people always saying “Well, what do we do about a sudden blockage in your writing? What if you have a blockage and you don’t know what to do about it?” Well, it’s obvious you’re doing the wrong thing, don’t you? In the middle of writing something you go blank and your mind says: “No, that’s it.” Ok. You’re being warned, aren’t you? Your subconscious is saying “I don’t like you anymore. You’re writing about things I don’t give a damn for.” You’re being political, or you’re being socially aware. You’re writing things that will benefit the world. To hell with that! I don’t write things to benefit the world. If it happens that they do, swell. I didn’t set out to do that. I set out to have a hell of a lot of fun.

On enjoying one’s work:

I’ve never worked a day in my life. I’ve never worked a day in my life. The joy of writing has propelled me from day to day and year to year. I want you to envy me, my joy. Get out of here tonight and say: “Am I being joyful?” And if you’ve got a writer’s block, you can cure it this evening by stopping whatever you’re writing and doing something else. You picked the wrong subject.

 

Ray Bradbury’s keynote address at the Sixth Annual Writer’s Symposium by the Sea, sponsored by Point Loma Nazarene University, 2001.

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