In the preface to Zen in the Art of Writing, Ray Bradbury explores what writing teaches us.
He says that more than anything, it “reminds us that we are alive.”
In the midst of draining, depressing, stressful days, writing—which Bradbury broadens to “our art”—helps restore life to us. It’s a way to regain stability after getting knocked flat by the death of a loved one or staring in disbelief at the doctor delivering the diagnosis.
If we were to expand the list of loss and suffering, it would never end. “The list is endless and crushing if we do not creatively oppose it,” he says. Writing pushes back against the darkness; it fights back and gives us hope that we can find a way to press in and through whatever we come up against.
Is writing therapy? Bradbury resists that word (“too clean, too sterile”).
Instead, he means “writing as cure,” revitalizing us in the midst of it all.
Writing cannot save us, but it can energize us. We write; therefore, we are alive.
“So while our art cannot, as we wish it could, save us from wars, privation, envy, greed, old age, or death, it can revitalize us amidst it all.”
— Ray Bradbury, Zen in the Art of Writing
Source: Bradbury, Ray. Zen in the Art of Writing: Essays on Creativity. Santa Barbara, CA: Capra Press, 1989. Print. (Library) (p. xii)
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Lynn Hopper says
I think my writing kept me going, even though it’s not the kind you are talking about. But meeting new people, hearing their stories was definitely an outlet. And of course, getting paid for it was a real bonus!
Ann Kroeker says
Yes, yes. A wonderful example of how writing “revitalized” you. It was part of your identity. You knew (and know) how to put words to thoughts, how to cut to the chase, how to make someone else’s writing stronger, and how to do it alongside others who also value writing. Journalists understand we need to read the stories going on around us, celebrate the good things. Journalists, of all people, can see how writing can bring sanity, stability, and energy when surrounded by the depressing news of the day. Good words, Mom. Good words.