Ten Things You Love, Ten Things You Hate

Ray Bradbury

Ray Bradbury in 1975

It’s one of my favorite pieces of writing advice from Ray Bradbury, and it’s blindingly brilliant in its utter simplicity. If you want to identify the ideas you should write about, the themes you can write passionately and believably about, follow this advice:

Make a list of ten things you love, ten things you hate, and ten things you fear. Write to celebrate the things you love, and write to destroy the things you hate and fear.

Bradbury put it this way in an interview with his biographer, Sam Weller:

“You can’t write for other people. You can’t write for the left or the right, this religion or that religion, or this belief or that belief. You have to write the way you see things. I tell people, Make a list of ten things you hate and tear them down in a short story or poem. Make a list of ten things you love and celebrate them. When I wrote Fahrenheit 451 I hated book burners and I loved libraries. So there you are.”

[Interview with Sam Weller, "Ray Bradbury, The Art of Fiction No. 203," The Paris Review, Spring 2010, http://www.theparisreview.org/interviews/6012/the-art-of-fiction-no-203-ray-bradbury.%5D

Bradbury expressed his advice this way in a 2001 keynote address at the Point Loma Writer’s Symposium By the Sea:

“Make a list of ten things you love—madly!—and write about them. Make a list of ten things you hate—and kill them! And make a list of the things you fear, your own personal nightmares, and write about them. And then the accumulation of other things that you’re not sure actually happened to you, but intuitively you write about them, as in my book Dandelion Wine.”

Bradbury also had a potent little nugget of advice for those who wrestle with writer’s block: “If you have writer’s block, you can cure it right now by stopping what you’re writing and doing something else.”

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8 Comments

  1. Love this. Great advice! I always say, “Make your mess your message.” Write about something you feel strongly about right now and your talent will shine through.

    Reply
  2. “Make a list of ten things you love—madly!—and write about them. Make a list of ten things you hate—and kill them! And make a list of the things you fear, your own personal nightmares, and write about them.”

    Writing about your own fears and nightmares is a great place to start. Great post.

    Reply
  3. Reblogged this on EditorEtc LLC and commented:
    10 things you hate, 10 things you love…

    Reply
  4. Bradbury is always my go-to for writing advice. Thank you for this! My favorite of his is, “We must stay drunk on writing so reality does not destroy us.”

    Reply
    • Thanks, Alison. For years, I’ve tried to understand his unconscious approach to creativity, and I plan to put together some thoughts on that for a future blog. Bradbury is probably the number one reason I’m a writer today. I’ve read The Martian Chronicles countless times. And the quote you cited is one of my favorites too. So true! —JD

      Reply
  5. Good post. I learn something totally new and challenging on websites
    I stumbleupon every day. It will always be exciting to read content from other writers and practice a little
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    Reply
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