Jerry Seinfeld’s Writing Success Secret
A site I really enjoy is LifeHacker.com Recently, I came across an article by Brad Isaac. He was an aspiring comic and is a lead software programmer and blogger. You can read his motivational strategies every day on his goal setting blog, Achieve-IT!
In this article, Brad talks hanging around comedy clubs and meeting Jerry Seinfeld. He had a moment for a private chat and asked Jerry what tips he had for a comedian just starting out. His advice is gold for any writer.
It’s also the premise on which The One Hour Screenwriter eCourse is built. Success in anything requires incremental steady progress. Writing one hour a day or one joke a day is how genius is created.
Jerry Seinfeld said the way to be a better comic was to create better jokes and the way to create better jokes was to write every day. But his advice was better than that. He had a gem of a leverage technique he used on himself and you can use it to motivate yourself—even when you don’t feel like it.
He revealed a unique calendar system he uses to pressure himself to write. Here’s how it works.
He told me to get a big wall calendar that has a whole year on one page and hang it on a prominent wall. The next step was to get a big red magic marker.
He said for each day that I do my task of writing, I get to put a big red X over that day. “After a few days you’ll have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You’ll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job next is to not break the chain.”
“Don’t break the chain,” he said again for emphasis.
Over the years I’ve used his technique in many different areas. I’ve used it for exercise, to learn programming, to learn network administration, to build successful websites and build successful businesses. (Or it could be used for screenwriting)
It works because it isn’t the one-shot pushes that get us where we want to go, it is the consistent daily action that builds extraordinary outcomes. You may have heard “inch by inch anything’s a cinch.” Inch by inch does work if you can move an inch every day.
Daily action builds habits. It gives you practice and will make you an expert in a short time. If you don’t break the chain, you’ll start to spot opportunities you otherwise wouldn’t. Small improvements accumulate into large improvements rapidly because daily action provides “compounding interest.”
Skipping one day makes it easier to skip the next.
I’ve often said I’d rather have someone who will take action—even if small—every day as opposed to someone who swings hard once or twice a week. Seinfeld understands that daily action yields greater benefits than sitting down and trying to knock out 1000 jokes in one day.
Think for a moment about what action would make the most profound impact on your life if you worked it every day. That is the action I recommend you put on your Seinfeld calendar. Start today and earn your big red X. And from here on out…
Don’t break the chain!
The One Hour Screenwriter eCourse gives you specific daily writing tasks you can knock off in an hour a day. It guides you day-by-day and hour-by-hour from idea to finished first draft. You’ll never be stuck or stymied again because you will have an action plan broken down in easy-to-follow steps. Finally finish that screenplay in a motivated manageable way.