Do You Want to Watch An Animated Ray Bradbury Interview?

Lisa Potts did an interview with Ray Bradbury  in 1972 and she by chance found it again in 2012. Since then, it’s been animated though the wonderful Blank on Blank , in part of their PBS series. Thanks so much to Maria Popova of – one of my favourite websites BTW – for introducing me to this wonderful series. Alongside writer Bradbury, Blank on Blank  have animated interviews with Maya Angelou, musicians such as Lou Reed, John Lennon and actors Philip Seymour Hoffman and Heath Ledger among others. A real gem of a find.

Here is part of what Ray Bradbury says about writing:

“Don’t pay any attention to what anyone else says — no opinions! The important thing is to explode with the story, to emotionalize it, not to think it. If you start to think it, the story’s going to die on its feet. It’s like anything else… People who take books on sex to bed become frigid — you get self-conscious.

You can’t think a story — you can’t think, “I shall do a story to improve mankind.” It’s nonsense! All the great stories, all the really worthwhile plays, are emotional experiences. If you have to ask yourself whether you love a girl, or whether you love a boy, forget it — you don’t! A story is the same way — you either feel a story and need to write it, or you’d better not write it.


You write to please yourself. You write for the joy of writing. And then your public reads you and it begins to gather around…

The enthusiasm, the joy itself draws me — so that means, every day of my life, I’ve written. When the joy stops, I’ll stop writing.”

You Can’t Think a Story

This to me was the best thing I’ve heard on writing for a while. So what is the difference between thinking and feeling a story? To me, “thinking ” a story is working out the plot, developing a clever idea that would make a snappy little tale. “Feeling’ the story is either having a call to write about a particular thing you feel strongly about, or starting a story with an essence and let the words flow from that emotion.

Bradbury might not have  meant this at all, but that’s how I look at the written word. It’s not that I don’t plot – of course I do at a certain level – especially with a novel. But with a short story, the mood of the piece needs to carry you forward to allow the story to unfold.

How do you like to write? Do you plot and plan? Do you pick a theme? Do you start with a freewrite,no clue as to how the story is going to unfold? 

Come join the discussion, and please share this post on your favorite social media. 

Many Thanks!

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  1. “All the great stories, all the really worthwhile plays, are emotional experiences. ” – this is great. Yes. I’m going think about this the next time I paint or draw.

    Oh, I loved Ray Bradbury when I was young. Time to reread.
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  2. What a wonderful post! I’m not normally a fan of animation but this is marvelous and served as a great reminder of what a treasure Ray Brandbury was.
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  3. I love that quote you had for us to tweet AK. What a clever video which animates the interview. It’s a highly inspiring interview. Thanks for sharing this Ray Bradbury interview.
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  4. The point about thinking a story is pretty interesting. In some instances that is what an editor forces you to do. It is something that probably becomes very different for an established writer as opposed to someone who is publishing a first or second novel.
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    • I think editors probably do push writers in whatever direction the publisher wants. I think writers go through phases on how they write, though unfortunately many are forced into keeping unrealistic deadlines which can only effect the quality ,or at least the ‘feeling’ of a story.
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  5. How very true. Stories should be told from the heart – much more authentic. Writing should be done with passion and emotion.
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  6. I so enjoyed this video and article. A true writer’s words, we are driven by emotion to feed our writing.
    I love free writing, start with a concept or a thought and follow it with my mind and pen. When writing my books, I outline my theme, and points and chapters and write from the soul too. Thanks for sharing this A.K. 🙂
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  7. This is a great way we can find some interaction with some of the greats. I really liked the video.
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  8. I think way to much when I’m drafting. It killed my novel at times. I’ve been writing in my journal a lot lately rather than working on any creative writing, and it feels good just to let the words flow again. That emotional quotient is definitely needed to tap into the “real” writing that will move people and allow a connection to be made with an audience. Unleashed, messy writing can be edited and whipped into shape, but I have a hard time getting there in my own early draft writing. SOOOOOOO self-conscious 😉
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    • Pleased to hear yo’ve been journaling Jeri. Writing truly just for yourself really taps into your subconscious in a way that can be hard to do when you know you’re writing for an audience. And it really shows when fiction is forced. So maybe the take away is to trick yourself into thinking no-one but you will ever see what you write for your first draft. It’s so hard not to overthink and overwrite. Your work is so good it’s definitely worth trying different things to try and loosen up.
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  9. Bradbury’s advice to feel, not think, reminds me of Camille Rankine’s comment, in the video for Week 5 of the online poetry class, that if she knows how a poem is going to end, then it will fall flat. I’m such a pantser, I can’t even get started unless I feel something about a character or an action.
    Thanks for sharing this interview with Bradbury. Right now I’m listening to Something Wicked This Way Comes, and loving it.
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    • Gosh, Camille is fantastic isn’t she? I like work to evolve organically myself though I’ve recently been thinking that perhaps I would benefit with a little more structure. Im sure its possible to have a balance of the two. But I do know for sure you have to listen to your characters to tell you what’s going to happen. An ending may not be the one you’ve planned.
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  10. Wow AK! Even before I read your blurb, that paragraph “You can’t think a story…” hit me in the gut! OMG! How many times have I killed a story or even a blog post, by simply overthinking. It does of the effect of sanitization, right? The emotions get lost or are obliterated. I’m going to print that paragraph and post it on my desk!!!!
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    • I’m with you on this one Jacquie. And I can tell straight away when I’m making things too “precious” – and yet it continues to happen. Sanitisation is a great way to think of it too. I think Bradbury’s assessment of it is fantastic. Really glad I found this website.
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  11. I love this – you can’t think a story. When I get stuck with a story or it feels flat, it’s is likely because I’ve been doing too much thinking and have lost the feeling and emotion.
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    • I think that’s very true Donna. Why we do this, I’m not sure, but clearly lots of writers do. You can’t force things and we can only improve by writing more and listening to ourselves. At least it’s easy to spot when we’re going down that “overwrite” trail.
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  12. AK, I guess this is what makes the difference between a book you can’t put down and a book you just read because it gives you something to do.
    I love that phrase – feeling the writing and to explode with it.
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  13. He was a gem, a great writing gift to the world.
    I do like the concept of the animated interview, that is a unique way of placing the interviewee into any type of situation for the interview.

  14. Thanks much for sharing this. Time to reread Ray! When I write, I just start writing and put it away if I’m not done and organize it later. I love the animation on the video. What a find!
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  15. I love these posts that put into words what I think but lack the ability to articulate. Absolutely a story should be felt, like music. Thinking gets in the way of so much and maybe we would all be better of in the bliss of ignorance…who’s to say 🙂
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  16. Back in 1973 or so Bradbury wrote a fantastical essay titled “How to Be Madder than Captain Ahab” for a Chicken Soup for the Soul anthology. I couldn’t find the complete essay online but a lot of it is excerpted at this page.
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  17. I think that writing from the heart makes a story take shape. You can’t overthink it. My secret: I’ve never been good at writing from outlines. It just doesn’t work for me. I just start writing and somehow it works out. I find it almost impossible to write about something that may be important to others but which interests me not at all.
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