Couteau: My first question concerns the process of writing. Do you have any sort of daily ritual that serves as a preparation to writing, or do you just sit down every day at a certain time and begin?
Bradbury: Well, the ritual is waking up, number one, and then lying in bed and listening to my voices. Then, over a period of years ... I call it my morning theater; it’s inside my head. And my characters talk to one another, and when it reaches a certain pitch of excitement, I jump out of bed and run and trap them before they are gone. So, I never have to worry about a routine; they’re always in there, talking.
Couteau: How long do you write for?
Bradbury: Oh, a couple of hours. You can do three or four thousand words and that’s more than enough for one day.
Couteau: How has the use of the computer affected your writing?
Bradbury: Not at all, because I don’t use it.
Couteau: You never use a computer?
Bradbury: I can write faster on a typewriter than you can on a computer. I do 120 words a minute, and you can’t do that on a computer. So, I don’t need anything … That’s plenty fast.
Couteau: So you’re saying the technology still hasn’t caught up with you.
Bradbury: Well, if it won’t be any more efficient than my IBM Selectric, why should I buy it? It’s for corrections, you know? Then I give it to my daughter, and she has a computer and she puts it in, and she then corrects it in the computer. And we have a record, so we have the best of both worlds at the same time.
Couteau: How about the imaginative process itself, the building of a story? How do characters and plots first arise? You’ve maybe covered this a little just now. Do they appear spontaneously or do they first originate in a carefully planned conscious construct?
Bradbury: Any carefully planned thing destroys the creativity. You can’t think your way through a story; you have to live it. So, you don’t build a story; you allow it to explode.
Read the full interview here.
Excerpts of this interview were published in the November 1990 edition of the Paris Voice (Paris, France), the spring 1991 edition of Quantum: Science Fiction & Fantasy Review (Gaithersburg, Maryland: Thrust Publications), and the Nelson Thornes Framework English Resource Book 2 (Cheltenham, UK: Nelson Thornes Ltd.), and Conversations with Ray Bradbury, ed. Steven L. Aggelis (Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi, 2004). The complete interview is featured in the literary anthology Collected Couteau (New York: Dominantstar, 2010).