Ray Bradbury on How To Get Things Done


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INTERVIEWER: How important has your sense of optimism been to your career?

BRADBURY: I don’t believe in optimism. I believe in optimal behavior. That’s a different thing. If you behave every day of your life to the top of your genetics, what can you do? Test it. Find out. You don’t know—you haven’t done it yet. You must live life at the top of your voice! At the top of your lungs shout and listen to the echoes. I learned a lesson years ago. I had some wonderful Swedish meatballs at my mother’s table with my dad and my brother and when I finished I pushed back from the table and said, God! That was beautiful. And my brother said, No, it was good. See the difference?

Action is hope. At the end of each day, when you’ve done your work, you lie there and think, Well, I’ll be damned, I did this today. It doesn’t matter how good it is, or how bad—you did it. At the end of the week you’ll have a certain amount of accumulation. At the end of a year, you look back and say, I’ll be damned, it’s been a good year.

— Excerpted from Ray Bradbury, The Art of Fiction No. 203 in The Paris Review, interview by Sam Weller


I’m fond of this quote because I share a similar philosophy of living and productivity (as well as a strong aversion to the prevailing Cults of Optimism and Magical Thinking).

“Action is hope”–those are words to live by in my books.

What if you tried replacing optimism with optimal behavior? If you’re looking for a meaningful way to increase your productivity and your satisfaction in your creative efforts, you might give it a shot.

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