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John Hodgman on Writing

January 20, 2013

Look – two posts on the blog in one day! Of course, they’re both links to other people’s stuff, but still…

John Hodgman talks about writing, but really it can be about any creative endeavor. And it’s only 2 minutes long, so people might actually watch it!

Two things I love – the “Know interesting things” part is so much less talked about and so much more important than write what you know. What you know is mostly boring – creativity comes from taking the boring stuff and finding ways of making it interesting. An old writing buddy of mine used to say “take your shit and make people want to smell it” as an attention-getting way of saying the same thing.

The other part is that the super-talented and perseverent groups are not necessarily the same. So often I see very talented people who, because it comes easily to them, have never learned the discipline to actually produce things. They’re great in those rare instances when they do create, but it’s not reliable enough for them to make a living from it – most of them either end up outside of the industry they want to be in, or working for someone who keeps them chained to their desk so they can create.. I’ve seen that second example all of once amongst my many, many students in the last 15 years. It’s the guys who can chain themselves to their own desks that get anywhere.

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