The Creative Process (special guest: Neil Strauss)
It's it's just to get a little bit of background for anybody who does not know the illustrious incredible well strauss on I say that in all seriousness like what? I have questions about writing when I'm in the my pit of despair the writing this is the guy I call uh steve what sixteen years has bestsellers seven yeah, I'm saying yeah, unstoppable so I also wrote for long time new york times ten years just a side note you have a you have a letter on your posted and framed on your wall what can you tell people that issue? I think this letter uh, what is writing the new york times one day and it's a it's a hate mail from phil collins and I guess and any the less the last three where's the letter or forwards were well, neal, you think it came from like and it was music that came from, like trent reznor? Someone I'd be like, okay that's just it dark person and that it came from phil collins was unlike letterhead from the peninsula hotel. There wasn't all hand written, not a single cross and ...
I call the publicist to make sure that his him and I said, where was he staying? And she was like peninsula, so there are rare moments of excitement when you're not like heads down writing I was going to be nice to me I wasn't being mean or anything. It was a surprise, but I write my quota for writing is to crappy pages a day wait, you still must I mean, how many pages the current book that's six hundred seventy two after cutting two hundred fifty so you know, that doesn't add up. No, I know it doesn't. Okay, so I told you, keep this gun control so yeah, but give you a hannibal lecter mask, but, uh, that was advice I got actually from ah, really famous? Well, not very famous cleaner is his name ghostwriter hundred like sixty books, and the analogy he used was ibm when their sales force was, like, the most dominant sales force in the country. They're the lowest quotas, which seems really counterintuitive, but they weren't intimidated to pick up the fun, right? And then they ended up exceeding. This quote is right. So the crappy two pages a day was his recommendation from my quota, which of course, once you actually start writing like a hard part for me is just like sitting down and starting. Yep, I get it again and once I'm into it, if it's like twelve pages great, but if I don't write my two pages, I don't panic and go into the spiral of it makes sense because I was reading it totally makes sense. It's totally counterintuitive I was reading something about how to train yourself to floss your teeth every day and it said only plus one to I'm just going to toss one tooth you got to do it and you end up doing all your teeth and then you could create but it's easily winnable s o this is truth any habit but I want to jump let's let's let's get into have so money I know I know this is so amateur looking at these but uh yeah okay, I'll just say this is a great question so I mean you're getting these big advances yeah it's big business is what I get really small in oh, you know what? This is actually a good point, right? You ultimately this we have a very different approaches to this little walk I'll come back to that, ok, alright, your books end up doing very well, right? And you have these businesses and everything else would love to talk about how you got started as a writer and like out your teeth. Yeah, but well, let's talk about the advanced thing for a second, so we have completely different approaches, so so most authors want to get the biggest advance possible because they're humans and their greedy but they also, uh I want the publisher to feel really committed like the more money they spent on the events the more obligated they feel to help or so the rationale goes but you're you have a different approach and I think I want a long term relationship with my publisher whoever I'm working with so if I could make them successful then they're gonna want to have that relationship with me so I've always taken very low advances and how basically have a book contract works it's not like the record business you'd actually see the back and I did an article once on the backstreet boys who when they told twenty five million albums didn't make a penny and royalties in the book basically once you're not you're vance you start making money but the publisher does to decide what you're successful and authors they look at their spreadsheets on basically if your advances so high that they didn't make any money that was not a successful book even it was the new york times best seller so all my books are really really successful for them because I know I trust I mean you write a book no hope knowing our hoping it's going to well you went with your first book so I just I'll take very little money in the front and I'll assume that it's going to do well in the back in and I'll get that money then and they look at their books and want a relationship with me? I really remember after like my second book, I had four contracts for future books already in line with the publisher like so the rest of my career has just done and set and I could quit my day job so this is yeah, totally different approaches, right? So I go for the big advance one possible, right? But this points out there is no one way different ways, and a lot of it comes down to your personal psychology way have a lot in common. We're pretty different a lot of ways to think I'm just a bull in a china shop it's a god damn it growing so aggressive, you know, neil, not so much like your much more like, methodical and more rational about more methodical that's that I can't believe anyone's going with articles about writing about writing. So all right, let's talk about the beginnings. So I mean, like, what were the breakthrough moments for you as a writer? Like, how did they had to get its weird? I was thinking I was talking teo robert greene, who was a friend and yes, his book master is coming out and and uh, and uh and we were talking about passion, how you know what your passion is? We both came to the same conclusion, which is two things one is whatever you're doing when you're eleven or twelve and a schoolteacher a parent to make you do is your passion and literally when I was eleven, I wrote a whole book sent it to publishers, nobody and agents and no one responded not a single person and so I got used to rejection early pretty early men who would not like living old writes a whole book and sensitive who would not respond to lean way so me on I also found my parents sent me cem some I'll ask for all of my childhood writings and in second grade I wrote like when I grow up, I want to be a writer and I want to write a million books I forgot that I've never done this stuff and I forgot ever wanted to be a writer in college and you get distracted and I got into music and all that stuff you get into in college and someone just lent back there so people looking for the passions I think that's the one thing in the second answer which goes to the advanced discussion is what would you do if you didn't get paid for it? If your money was said, what would you do for work if you don't get paid for it? You know, I would write some books and even make money on this I spent so much money as you probably know yourself researching them and about a second citizenship for one of them, yes or no, it is an emergency. I have an active an emergency is pretty funny. Neal will know I've known how long we known each other for years and years now. Yeah, new will not tell me what his new books about no he's so damn paranoid about that. You'll not tell me anything about his new books until it's like almost going to publication. But I remember you want teo well, when you're doing the dress for emergency and what is it that you won't tell me anything? So I was like, let me take some stabs in the dark, so if I can make him panic so I was like that. I know. What is it? Some five flags stuff, way multiple citizenship title something like what it really is here? Yeah, it's, super obscurity and so used you and fedex. I think it's fedex printed sections of the book you'll never see me the whole thing for me to review once. I mean, it was it was great having secret thing lt one books, um, which is which is I'll do the draft and I'll say I'll draftable handwriting draft, I'll say nine slash eleven for the date and then I'll code for each day I'll do nine, twelve, nine, thirteen, forty per person and that on page I'll do that on the cover, so I know whose it is that on page eleven cause you gotta be careful with, like, you know, with that on that page, open a little mark on that page in a little coat of paint ever leaks out it's like the davinci code, the stress code, but the reason, by the way, don't talk about it because that ideas are, you know, we know their names, and I look at it, I totally get it. I know you talked to one person and psychologically did studies and people forget sources of their information, we could get something the new york times or the national I don't actually do serious, yeah, I'm just I've become a little less stringent, but I know now because you told people what your book was like, almost like two weeks after her for a body, so I know we're bouncing around a little bit, but this is all very related. So part of the reason that I announce books early, right is I I will. I will use my audience to help determine what I should do, so I see what they guess. Right I'm going to focus on and this is another thing we differ on so I want to know what you do and I'll tell you what I do so all right the first so how do you decide what to write? Uh I never thought I was going to write her ever so I didn't have the eleven twelve year old thing but I always I had a number of teachers really heavily influenced me and so I thought, well, maybe maybe someday I'll be a teacher I really early on was like well maybe like what were you doing in eleven or twelve or do you like doing like a little comic hensler I thought I was going to comic with pencil and I was actually an illustrator for two years and not many people know this like I paid for my expenses and stuff in the first few years of college by being the head graphics editor of the princeton tigers so I didn't really illustration I also did some illustrations for princeton university books and then bounce it what a shame job uh but nobody uh nobody likes monsters uh but the point being, you know, I wanted teo I thought I might come back and teach and ended up like this action all career of writing and being the tool for that but I do not ask my readers what they want and then write that book but I was picking out cherry pick little bits and pieces uh but I think ultimately steve jobs said this henry ford's said it like people don't really know what they want, right? You know I mean it's like what do you want? I want faster horse not a model t yeah, a lot of people will do that they'll survey their audience and ask what they want to think of what will be bigger would be popular the thing is I talked with rock bands a lot about this a lot because I interview a lot of rock bands I said all your audience knows is what you've done before they don't know what you're gonna do next that's all they want is what you've done for me to keep doing what you've done before they're gonna get bored you're gonna get born too and you're gonna board too and so to me it's like I how I choose what I wanna write about us I say when I really always try to stay one step ahead it's not even trying that I write out what I care about the most in that particular moment of my life and because he's gonna have that passion I mean talkto seen people I was talking about writer today and uh he has over a million twitter followers um at a very big platform and he wrote a book that did not do very well because I think he wrote what was a clever book everyone would like versus writing something you really really cared about that was important to him and literally um I think you could make anything interesting if you really care about enough if you care about that pillow in the story that pillow and where it was made and how was made who made it or what their story is when you can dive in anything if you care about it and make it interesting john mcphee just as a side note is a great example of this uh michael lewis also another example right? But michael loose chooses big macro top usually off course that's interesting john makes the pills surprise when I mentioned before he's written a book on oranges a t sta shorts or maybe a book on plymouth rock uh one on basketball bill bradley sense of where you are great book and an orange I wrote one on hand carved canoes and they're here you read it like my god wouldn't cannon is the most amazing thing I've ever heard in my life you know? But for me, by the way that I think the key like to me the key writing is tio this is it which is if you guys want a writer and wants to write is my first thing is I assume no one cares whatever I'm writing madison no one cares about what I'm writing about nobody cares about me nobody cares about what I have to say no one cares about things I care about and if you just go from the promise that nobody cares and how can I make them care from the first sentence from the first paragraph you know, at the end of that chapter I'm going to make them turn the next chapter to me my main goal is to keep it interesting for the people and assume no one's interested so you should've arrived at these different approaches to writing what was the first to your mind like the first writing piece that you did that kind of put you on the map? We're not like I've arrived, but you're like, ok, I actually I actually could make this work I could actually really be good at this or wow, I guess I just got recognition for this piece. I mean, was there any sort of defining moments in your in your career as a writer? Yeah, I think I mean, I don't know I'm not yeah many things that I remember I remember like I was like but by the way, the best way to get about it get started anything is to be willing to work for free internships like to me on the path toe anything and I mean really think being there's definitely a lot of people are entitled basically I have so much to say but anyway if you want if you want to live in your passion whatever your passion is you have to be willing to not make money at it you want to do what you love, you've got to do you have to your people you have a choice you can choose money or you can choose what you love the joseph campbell is a great quote that I always use I don't if you guys know this the just just gamble so they hear with a thousand feet I had a great kind of professor of mythology but he said the uh the insecure if you guys heard this insecure way is the secure way you guys have heard that quote and when it means basically is you know my parents and I'm sure like most people's parents say get a good job try make some money, make a good living and because they think that secure if you may go and make money but if you do a job you make money, you lose that job then use the money you have nothing right? Right when he says, if you choose your passion actually no matter where you make money to lose money because you're always gonna have your passion be happy so it doesn't actually matter that's your safety right? And but the challenge of that is that it might be eight years or four years before you're actually making a living at it versus versus something else yeah, this is this is a common thread I mean, if you look at the cut because up to sort of apprenticeship and like working for free not being the lowest point on the totem pole but actually the way you differentiate yourself so you can work with the most talented people yeah, because like the most talented people are going to know on some level that they I have a lot to teach, right? So they're not going to feel compelled at least this has been my impression of a lot of people to, like, overpaid somebody who has no experience, they won't. And by the way, for people looking for mentor ships and their two qualities that maybe got those for me looking back on it, which was one is be willing to work really hard and do anything uh, beat it is to be non threatening to that person. You know, a lot of people come and they want to be that person or take their job if you're entitled to it, and c is to show the potential till learn because everyone wants to, you know, even like we first met, you actually sent me your book proposal for the four hour work week is how we met, yeah, wave back yeah, yeah. That's that's that was our first contact cold e mail and I sent him the proposal. I guess it was like lifestyle hustling the husband has a horrible title. Worst right? Oh, my god, like a mocked up a cover in the back cover and like, it was pretty funny, but the point being I sent it and you actually responded he responded and is something like yeah, great idea, like, keep going, there's something super sure super started. I was like, oh, my god knew stress responded like, oh, like we're gonna be pen pals and they responded nothing like radio silence, radio silence until we reconnected like years later at a dinner in los angeles, I ended up like sitting at the same table and you don't remember this, but like a really middle middle lot, you know, and in any case and it's like being coaching is been coaching training from the potential you better but what you're asking that first be so anyway, I was interned at the village voice and spent, like maybe nine months opening mail and all that other stuff. In fact, checking and copy editing. I was just in chicago at a public enemy sonic youth concerts ago there was a riot there, I just happen to be there and so that was my thing I just was in the right place at the right time but I got that first break and I wrote that piece and then remember afterward like the different new york papers like used my coverage for that for that for that thing and came out with the village voice that came out of the village voice that was back when like if a weekly could still break news very cool dailies can even break news anymore. Yeah, well like be first to be accurate yeah. Uh uh what how is your approach to writing changed over the years in terms of tackling let's just say book projects I think a lot of people saying that like yeah, what is the order of things and how how how is it evolved over time? Yeah, I think I have a lot of thoughts on that idea on the way down here wrote that try to try to back one engineer and I hate talking about it I think if anyone does anything artistic, creative there's some part of you we don't want to analyze it but the best practices that can be analyzed said the best advice I have for writing that I think you know this yourself um does anyone here want to write books? This is here one yeah, we're supposed to do after now yeah uh so uh so so you have the best said the best advice for anyone wants to read a book is literally the best way to write a book is to have a looming impending deadline with hard really world consequences for migs for mistakes guys on video that steak you need steaks like steaks talk tio r thanks steaks like vampire states but for a consequence yeah, and I think that I think that a media coach said to me recently there like you got it when you say steaks and you have a book called for our chef and they're going to think you're doing about steaks it's like ahh but but I think if you if you can't do you manufacture you talk about stick dot com and things like that but I really know that that literally tim's always tim will be calling and I'll be calling him saying I've got to get this in I got like three months I can't but if literally if we don't have those deadlines you went to written three we'll never have time would never happen yeah so so you have tio uh so I'll do that of a friend of mine wants to write a book on they want me to proof read or take a look at all so I'll take a look at it but what date are gonna get it done by? Because I make hold you too and they'll say january I said it is not done by the end of march you know I'm not gonna read your book at all no matter what so I'll give consequences and deadlines to my friends that's a good way to write is to really if you don't have a publisher deal or something like that find some real consequences that's externally imposed and I would also just say for people who were like I'm not a writer I I still don't really consider myself a good writer this guy's a good writer I don't consider myself a good writer uh but the process of writing is the fastest way in my experience to improve your thinking because writing is thinking on paper and it's pretty tough to like improve your thinking in real time so you put it on paper though I remember uh when did my first writing assignment for for john mcphee's class and he handed our writing simon's back and he said everyone he's like look you guys are all good writers don't want guys to panic when we're like well we got it back and there was more red ink then blacking out and I'm just like what is this that's right? And he was so methodical like at cutting out fillers colorful nonsense that didn't add anything that's the other secret is having a good editor I think it's hard with the with the with the blogger world and you're writing your own block you don't have an editor so we're doing a lot of writing to me I learned by having you know you learn by having editors and again if you're not writing somewhere there's an editor you can ever you know friends read your stuff like that doing that feedback and internalizing that it's super important what happened is that my grades in every other class improved in lock step with my asthma how my writing at tighter which is really cool so even if you don't plan on being a writer it's really good training for just becoming a better thinker I literally I don't I don't know what my conclusion is of a book about my perspective or my thought on it is actually until I sit down to write it and have to organize those ideas yeah, I don't write my introduction or the conclusion until towards the end of the book really yeah, I don't do my introduction because I feel like it'll lock me and stone and you and I both do something similar where I don't I don't assume that I have a lot of great ideas I could expound upon to make interesting so what? What uh people asking like, well, you're role models like uh and they have their guesses on who they might be and I was bring up george plimpton like like the for one of the first of experiential journalists who? Paris review and he would go, like, be an amateur boxer and fights sonny liston and then write about it or go be a quarterback for an nfl team, get his ass kicked and then write about it, and I think the right is a good example of that, like, go out and find or do interesting things to provide yourself context for writing. Yeah, I would also say take notes on your life because you never know everything you're doing everything experiences material for a book, if I didn't take notes every day on the things that were happening, and they were interesting and all my thoughts and feelings about it, because every day you're growing every day or transforming everything or changing what you think today, how you feel about things may not be the same. I think next week one captured in that there's, so many cases were, like now it's, like, I I didn't I, like take notes on this or why didn't like videotape that, you know, whatever, but speaking of taking notes, what's your process. So you have you can you capture? Yeah, I mean, so, yeah, I mean, I think of a book like this, so the first process, I'll just take notes, and I don't know what I'm not writing, I'm just vomiting out everything I remember every thought I had every feeling I had every word someone said, if I could actually record things sometimes with permission, you no recording it's, an interview or sometimes I know I'm doing the book and some just record this for posterity will try and do that. I'll get someone to transcribe that, actually the medical transcriber transcribe stuff. So she gets every single us based or some detail us base. Yeah, yeah, very opening. Keep it coming here. So, uh, so so the first agents. So the first and I'll tell you this is this is what I kind of realized today. And this is how I do drafts is so got on my notes. First draft is for me, the first time everyone himself with the book, trying to write a great book right away. Everyone, I think everybody is just a first draft, not the first draft turned in a first draft. You do. I would venture that I would think anyone who's, a good writer there first draft sucks. You know, you're just trying to get everything down. And the point of the first draft it's people get precious about it they want to actually write a book on they want each pays to be a publishable paige if you do that you're never going to pass the first chapter so so they say the first secret is you could do everything for you and you get everything that you wanted to get in the book in that book so when you're done with the first draft you basically have a giant stack of pages a lecture that he's given me many times yeah, way exactly yeah, you need it to get there and have a giant stack of pages good thing about those pages everything you want to say is in there, you know? And now you just know that you know you gotta start shaping craft and that it's everything want to say maybe it's not set right? Maybe there's too much there maybe your stuff is not going up there but everything's in that ball now it's not in your head and more swimming around and no yeah, this is super super important because one of the big stress is for me keeping in mind like when I graduated from college I'd write a senior thesis and it just about killed me like one of the reasons I took a year away from school is because it was too insurmountable task for me right, I was just overwhelmed it was like I can't finish this thing senior thesis and so I graduated like I'm never going to write anything longer than email every right didn't quite work out clearly, but I still have all that like insecurity and fear associate with big writing and one of the sources of the stress was that I wanted to get like each page perfect before I moved on to the next and so I would constantly have all these different sources of stuff as opposed to like all right, make the first drive for you you can put like notes in the margins you can have t k which will come out this is my favorite comeback and then once you have that in one like working document now you khun you don't have all these different sources of stress you have one thing to work on t k is I didn't even know what that stood for until like a year ago I was like, what the hell does this mean? So what people in publishing will do is if if they're writing and they need to find out like the age of someone or a date or whatever those particular or like, quote t k so they don't interrupt their flow and then they could go back and you can fill in the blanks so t k stands for two come but that's t c so I t k t k because teke really doesn't appear in the english language so if you want to do a search through document you can jump but I didn't know why I was when I was a weird way to say to you no no no no no it's so you can search and you can find all the things you need to fill in without having to search through the documents yeah so so so what I'm writing and I really want to just get it out if I start to stumble over a word like you know, you know, sitting with him in that t shirt just describe it that color and then I don't know not that good a writer s o right now in his you know, t k shirt you know, and I'm the teekay catch it and I just want to get it through and then later I could fill in whatever that is because it will help me just spit out everything that's in my mind I want to win the second, so yeah, so the first draft is for you the second draft is for the reader, so and so once I got everything in there, I'll go through now and then I'll think about what's that reading experience leg and write it for the reader to read and that's the point where you know, you kill your babies when there was that thing that you didn't research that for for a week and this was so important you thought this was going to the heart of the book and then you read it you're like, you know it's not that interesting you spent all that time writing its own all that time researchers that the words because of that that gives you the most the most headache s o the second draft is for the reader uh and and really you're at that point you're taking out anything basically a book when you're done, you should be such that you can't remove a word or a paragraph of chapter um and the book still be ok and intact yeah, it should be such that you even remove a paragraph that is actually ruined everything there has to be essential I really think there's this the book and running now there's this chapter I love it I wrote it so important, so well written leader I can remove it in the books the same so it's gone? Yeah so and this is what a lot of people don't do the third draft on by the way we're talking drafted primate maybe multiple the draft I think the third incarnation so the first one's for third first incarnation for you second for the reader third is for the hater s so what I do is when I'm all done with my books I left for the reader of ideal reader the third time I think what the critics have to say what's uh you know, somebody who's just looking to this teo to pick holes a part of it I tried I'll try to hate her proof that book like almost like what I love about like, you know, eminem is that you can't really criticise him because he's always put probably criticisms in the song yeah and there's no thie end of, uh, help me out here god, six miles wasn't no, not six months, eight miles when he he like, takes all the insults from the guy he's battling and puts it into his own exactly. Yeah, yeah that's that's really good. I'll do that so just think, okay, that person's going to that apart. Okay, I gotta answer that argument with will have to answer that within the book so literally when when the rules come out good or good or bad it's not that it's already all there so that's so that's that third week you really feel like you have something airtight thie internet is absolutely loving having you here, neil okay, we have snow in person, mr internet has questions for you, the internet we represent the internet and but we have so we have a number of questions but we're going to start in our studio audience with amanda and you represent the internet what do you represent the duality is into alan and on the internet relationship there manning manning the web's ok well when you sit down to write do you do it at the same time and in the same place great question I think one of things I want to get to him glad you asked his time management on im when tim said I'm a you know I'm very methodical about time management because it's still hard to do so the first thing I could get a couple of important life changing tips for anyone trying to something created by computer so number one thing there is that uh is uh no email no morning like number one thing is there's a program called freedom that I downloaded uh and it says I love the word freedom because that's really what it says how many minutes of freedom do you want you say whatever it is ninety minutes and you cannot act the access internet for ninety minutes there's no ah la co people are gasping you're all going to use it yeah there's no one like it's the first thing I do is uh is foam I give to someone else or put it in a drawer somewhere it's best if I give it to someone else uh internet goes off and I commit to that amount that certain amount of time I really have my days structured I currently do it I'm changing a little bit but I currently do is mondays I do every meeting I have to do on a monday I do exactly the same thing just know is that lenny monday is my like nonsense minutia day where I just take care of all of that extraneous stuff that's hitting the shield yeah it's fun it's fun every every meeting, every interview everything it's just books on a monday monday they're crazy they're maybe twelve hours this stuff but in tuesday to front friday I just right and so so I turn that stuff stuff off and try to automate anything that causes anxiety for example lunch is a pain and what about what I want for lunch today doing many toe around to make food they literally have it you do this to you or something? No, I remember we did this like, uh, very romantic retreat. Yeah, right, yeah malady we're both writing and just like the degree of stress that like having to go out and have a meal caused you was like pure hilarity maybe I was being a guinea pig for the four of you know he was although he was just being forced to eat like eighty grams of blue to me today and he was kind of crumb peaks I was making him too like presses two failures trading and that was nothing compared to the eating the fairy ah long long story but yeah so so continue you are basing anything that I know also you have a certain amount of reserves of decision making power today after a certain amount suppose they can't make more decisions just get fatigued a lot of people spend a lot of that power on lunch, so what I do is I've just chosen the five places where I like to eat the most and I just get those meals delivered like clockwork each of those days days don't think about it the food just comes so really automate those inspiring literally waiting so eating to failure so trying to get neil to gain weight then he told me a story about neil bites through these little tiny bites his prance like stop taking nearby and so we'd be sitting there like a restaurant having are like roses one time we're having these like coco lotta's so like yachts with umbrellas and I'm like rice eat rice and so like feeding him bryce and everyone's like went on here yeah yeah yeah I'm disgusting like walrus so yeah so so so so so so my thing is that it is compartmentalizing that you checked her e mail check it from four to five and they have that there's a someone wrote a book which I never read that's called never check her e mail in the morning you don't I don't know you or not but just know the title and it's really great no it's going straight thing is with time is to become proactive about time instead of reactive because I know some people you can't do anything because you're getting uh you know, message on facebook and they're getting a you know, an email and then you're just reacting to that it feels like you're getting something done on the end of the day you got nothing done. So what? My thing is I'm really everyone knows that I'm proactive about that two degree that by the way, I have facebook and twitter block to my computer uh what I did is I downloaded entangle content uh because it content very whatever it is there's no rest time confused it, yeah net in and around the block specific yeah, and I had someone else put in their password for those sites, so I don't know the password so I couldn't get to twitter or facebook if I'd tried um so finding those things that are those are those putting walls between you and them or limiting them in certain ways is one of the thing was going to say was oh, which is friends can be a pain in the ass if you tried teo, and if you have more than seven friends and I want to see one day a week, what do you do? So anything I want to say is that I do a wednesday night dinner party, so if my friends want to see me, I'm like great wednesday sutton wants a meeting I'm not sure about wednesday night, so wednesday night way all go to a restaurant on dh basically, whoever I want to see your catch up on, I'll see them there and then maybe afterward I'll break off my closer friends, but that way I can see everyone, people who want to meet with that water really take the time for a lunch meeting one on one, I just bring him there if I like him, I talked to a bunch of I don't know far away, so I know I guess, same thing, actually, but I do it on fridays, it's just so funny I'll do like friday kind of happy hour thing, yeah, s o that because dinners can be like, three, four hours, right? Right. So I'll do like a happy hour drinks thing with like five to ten people or whatever they were going to, I'll introduce you guys to be awesome, but I mean the practical implication of that is that you're taking these people you do want to meet with but you don't time if you want anything done so your batch is at the other yeah, but the real thing is to be non reactive being controlling time compartmentalized you know where they belong the other important thing, by the way for writings just just something physical, unhealthy, everyday like even that that our our half you do it isn't really that much time and clearheaded thinking how many pages do you write a day that's a good question um, so this guy's machine s o I do here's ten pages a day writing and then when I'm prue freeing the first perfect will be twenty pages a day to proof read the next page will be forty pages a day to prove read so kind of goes like that I think what people don't factor in the art of writing is not is in the proof reading afterward that in writing it for me what makes the book a good book the book good is is those parts after one thing like a shirt like a really wrinkled shirt, you just keep going over it with the iron all the wrinkles are going and that's what the first incarnations and ugly wrinkled shirt that's that that's that ironing process that makes it great and there's another thing I'll do and I'm just spit now step nto doesn't want to get a lot of stuff in and then people will ask questions and mr internet and ask what he wants here she he and she uh so um so uh oh, yeah, so what we're talking about a way of writing your proof? Oh yeah, another thing here's the thing I'll do that I don't think I don't know anyone else who does this, but this is the key pete piece of writing a book from us when I say I just teo people figure out things about themselves, you know, like you find out that you forgot the strategies for yourself and someone could just told you that tells him three years ago when I'm all done with the book, I'm gonna pick up a friend because I'll call a friend or have a friend come over and I'll read them my entire book from front to back maybe I don't want sitting, I read that whole book to make sure it's interesting and don't even need to respond I know what I'm losing then I know when I'm bored they're bored all this mark that passage will be like everything is so solitary read the whole thing out, lad, I'm losing someone for some part of it, I just know what all this market you could just help you don't even need their feedback another thing I'll do is I'll make I'll send key copies of the book of my secret numbering system teo you know, to say fifteen people they don't need the writers and the office and I need to be anything and I'll get their feedback and some other feedback are recognizes good and that'll make it but sometimes five people make the same point and then even if you don't agree, you gotta really consider it because they're probably right and actually just on feedback to real fast uh I'll add a few thoughts we have pretty similar process, right? And with this last book I mean I was basically taking like the three years that I took to do the former body and compressing in the six months there's I do not recommend it couldn't be prouder of the book I think it's arguably the best to my three books, but I needed a lot of professors and as proof readers I want people who are either better writers that I am or better thinkers and adult and uh the I found actually like law students and lawyers were really good. I'll give you bertel feedback the other rule I had was that if one person hated something, I wouldn't necessarily take it out, but if anyone loved something it stated so like I needed it I needed a concensus to remove something but I only need one person to really love something to keep it in and uh the other thing I would say is that just for ah like a practical standpoint a tool based standpoint I use and this is not because I'm associated with with feelings cos but he's ever know to do all my research gathering so pulling things off line taking photographs of like labels take photographs of business cards, people, whatever all of that gathering is done in every note sits in one place and then I do my my drafting in a program called scrivener, which have no association with used for like by a lot of playwrights and screenwriters for screenplays yeah, really good because then I don't have first of all word hate it always crashes. So instead of having, like, one hundred word documents have one scriven or file where I have all of my chapters in this like table of contents in my research so I can actually look at my notes in one like at the bottom of the screen while I'm writing at the top which saves me tens and possibly hundreds of hours at the end of the day uh the then I use use dropbox for sharing really big files with my team's like in new york, san francisco wherever we have people all over the planet working on this thing a lot of photos and videos if they send me something for feedback like, uh illustration or photograph layout you screen flow to record a video it's so much faster than like trying to type out email or do anything else I'll use screen flowed and like point out everything and then I'll upload that to dropbox and share it with um um instead of using email because here's the problem right? You don't want to check email but then like everyone in the publishing team and all the publicist want to communicate with you you know what do you do? Uh, his base camp sze base camp so that even if they're using email to replied everything, all I have to do is log into base camp to see what's most important by the way and another thing with communications have a tiered system so I have one email that is super secret only people I need to contact have it my publisher's my parents, my girlfriend you know all about twenty people have it one yes, but because if anyone knows not to overuse is tim on dh then on my phone too and then have another email that's just a that's a wider one that kind of everyone has and I'll check that once every couple of days on dh then uh and then uh and then say with my phone I have a number that literally almost nobody has and they have another kind of general number that I'll just check when I'm home so I think especially these days you've really got a limit that channels through which people can communicate with you and I also do my editing I do have my first note taking the a hand drafting the scrivener and for every draft I printed out and I actually go through by hand I just find them better I'm faster and I can like connect the dots without having to scroll and whatnot I just find it a lot easier and you outline you don't you outline I don't know do not outline and you do outline but you don't do the front the first the last time I do outline but it's for me at least I actually view my job kind of I take a cheat approach in the innocents I spec out all of the crazy things that I want to try and that's my first outline and then I do it you just don't know where it's gonna lead, right? Yeah you have no idea and that's part of the fun because ultimately my opinion is if the book is not at least fun to research it's not going to fund arrayed like if you hate every step of the process and you're like but you know the market says it should be really popular in the timings right? People are gonna hate it and in the thing and the thing about writing and interruptions, I read that it's someone interrupts you in work anything you're doing, it takes twenty minutes to get back to work and especially about that flow process when you're writing and that is very important tonight and dribbles getting folks it might take three hours of staring at the computer just doing nothing type in whatever and then you hit that flow and that's why you're good writing sometimes you're just putting words down other times you're really writing connected there and you just don't know when or where it's gonna happen you gotta just great that space doesn't get interested when you're alone that's true that's why I do all my interruptible stuff during the day interviews research online below a lot and I do my synthesis, my writing starting at like ten pm when people are less likely to drop me it's like a lot of writers, I know get there like writing done from, like ten p m to eight a m no what I mean by that is they either start late stay up really late, which is what I do get a bit like five am not the most social thing in the world or the wake up really early, like five am and right from five to eight and I have to do that because I trust my behavior more when everyone else is sleeping than my self control in the ruins a week. Um, speaking of interrupting, yeah, one question get two writers time I'm writing, and so we've got a lonely, like three or four minutes left, so we'll take a quick with the speed round quick question from from the internet, because we are the voice of the internet, we will end it ourselves, and then you think corey has a question here in the back, so let's, go ahead and go selling art is saying, when writing, do you visualize one person or type of person as your reader? I guess I guess the quick answer is, uh, is, uh yeah, I mean, in that second first time again, it's for me and I don't I don't visualize the reader all exits, and the second thing is that reader is somebody who's, a bored person not interested, usually my parents, so I actually totally opposite approach, I do right for very specific people, right? So all right, the book, like, you know, I'm good friends let's say, kevin rose or, like, I'll think of, like neil or like ryan holiday say and, like, I will ask myself, like, would this pass muster for these people, and I try to write the book that I would want to read also like is this filling a gap where I would want to buy this book if so I just assume they're going to be people who have some similarities to me maybe it's age maybe it's living in san francisco whatever who also by the book that's true all right the book for me that's really true that's that that's so right on I will write the book that I want to read or I will you are the book I need yeah yeah, right. Cool. All right, cory, did you have a question? So one of the things I really love about both of you guys is that when you're going after a new task or a new skill in this applies to writing and beyond you fully immerse yourself in the research material you know, neal in the game you know, you started researching brando in streetcar named desire and mickey rourke in that move from the eighties I figure it's called everything it was I mean, you could really write my books everything and then you is well with your research material for the chef's I'm sure used to be a lot of chefs and beyond how do you filter out you know, good material from bad material to study because right now more than ever we live in a time where there's just so much information how do you select? As tim says, the twenty percent of material that'll give you the eighty percent of results for your writing or for skill was so true that it is a form of procrastination called perfect preparing, and you spend so much time preparing and gathering data if it becomes a former procrastination after awhile. So again, the simple answers problems act with tim said is and, by the way, so the so the general talking cory showed me earlier, like a book he had of the things he wanted to in his life, and one was meet tim farriss, which he did that was have a drink with neil strauss and knocking me around tonight and have them grab a beer. Wait, that's fantastic. So you have to drink both of us. You could say that? Yeah, it is megan fox here, and you've done that this's great. So, uh, yeah, I think you've got one of the keys is knowing when you're done, when you've got enough and also only going to the best, and for me, the eighty twenty analysis is done, alright, tio e so I only choose things that I am interested in doing. And then so at least even if it doesn't make it into the book, it was something fun, something worth doing like I went down this huge rabbit hole like dna testing and like, how do I hide my identity? And like I did a bunch of dna tests, like as brad pitt until it's crazy stuff talked like genetic weapons engineers at, like, nuts, right? Is one of those things was, like, so awesome you get, like, like pre pre loaded credit cards at safeway, so no one knows one of all at the end was, like, not useful for the right. The cool thing is, you gotta block this's how you rationalize things, you're going to cut your like I got a block. Well, like I always say, I'll put it in the paper back and then I never put in the paper back or the visual book. Yeah, exactly. So and then once you have all those experiences that's when you cut it down, but you have to go out and you have to have them before, you know it's actually. Interesting. Yeah. And yeah, but that's like the benefit of, I think, our approach in so much as we immerse ourselves it's, like we're learning a lot and having fun, even if the book never succeeds. And we're getting it firsthand and I think that's the key is I mean I read the third hand stuff I'm secondhand stuff on my way to meet the first hand person on the plane or something but to me I'm always getting firsthand if I'm doing a book on the subject I'm gonna ask everybody about it I think that's true for anything you want in life they talk about the power of intent but more than others the power putting it out there and so anything I'm working on literally even no no no is there and writing about all my conversations are about that I'm asking everybody I'm out there surfing makes me crazy somebody just tell me what your book isn't even get people like like t like I'll bleed people the runnerup purposely do misinformation and stay in their own direction just so he doesn't feel like the only one who's paranoid so when I did I think was the first announcement for the for our body I used a different title I called it like the guide to becoming super human right? And then I put a bunch of fake stuff in there as red herring because I knew people would be like squatting on your all's right running on you that's why I didn't want people to like grab all of the domains and twitter handles and everything which they did but they had the wrong title right but I did want to get feedback from this is important not only do I put it out there because I want feedback for my audience I put it out there so that I if people are in my audience like the best in the world that that they then reach out to me which is how I connected to the linnean chicago is nick kokonas is one of the cofounders an amazing amazing guy reached out after I made the announcement about for our chef he's okay if you ever want to come check on lydia coming out awesome one and it's showing so having people actually reach out to me but not giving them like the nitty hales I can screw you up yeah or you know a review off especially the kindle now like someone could put a double guard three days later with and the just what they actually tried to dio makes me crazy yeah you have to learn to deal with people squatting now there's another thing about writing by the way don't think about publicity marketing title until you're all done you know people that's another way of former distraction is like how I'm gonna market this was my publicist is right the frickin marketing's very tantalizing waiting for across the night wait so we got an extra five minutes or so we're going to move the language segment toe right after lunch there was a language with excel appropriate right? Wei have another, a few questions on the internet. Another cheers, frank period neil frank pierce says, how do you stop a writing session? And when you stop, how do you get out of your ultra concentrated state of mind? Oh, how do you stop a writing session? Really that's a quality problem? Yeah, well, if I'm in a writing session, it's going, I won't stop even people know who I have plans with, I'm like, if I if I'm in it, I might not be there that's another right this way, secrets don't never commit to plans say, I've got another engagement, but I'll try my hardest to be there that way if you don't show up, they expected you to show me show up your hero, but anyway, so the answer is I won't stop it. I'm going in the same exact policy, so it takes me and from what I've seen silicon valley with, like really good programmers are just programmers and generally takes them like a good hour just to get to the point where they're moving. And if you build up a bunch of momentum and who knows, you're like just sleep deprived enough for just drunk enough from whatever where it's actually working, you think I don't stop, I will go until I face plant I think I will like if if I started ten and it's like four in the morning or five sons coming up but it's still going on like men this might not come back for me might not come back from the three days like I'm just gonna go another key by the way is dead if you're going to exercise you some physical, do it in the middle, the writing or somebody's right afterward because you want to keep your head, you've got to keep your head on what you're doing your best idea's gonna come to you actually when you're not writing when you in the shower when you're driving when you're jogging uh and then always write it down as soon as you have that idea, you have to write it down always travel like a little like a mole skin notebook always always I used to actually carry like a little notebook necklace around my neck and a pen there and I would just grab it and write it down you will not remember if you're like falling asleep and you're like, oh, well, I should do this tomorrow morning like that great headline of that great sub chapter you're not gonna remember I'll stay with the no pad and a pen near my bed I do it I'll just if I wake up I just always ready down uh couple of resource is for writing I'd love to get your thoughts a couple of books that really helped me on writing well, it was really helpful to me way back in the day uh bird by bird I talk about all the time but just flicked psychological self loathing and all that stuff self doubt, whatever which journalists I feel like trained journalist suffer less from but I could be wrong about that when you're doing journalism because someone else is going to be low thing after they were versus the ones that that's about you and you're going yeah, I think I think that when I was journalism you never think that because really you're not deadline you know it's like you until five p m and you like okay, well e I don't have time for self loathing when you're doing what you're doing a bookie totally down because the bookman you'd like you really put your heart into it the whole three years you and no one may read it and yeah, well it's like when you made your jump from sort of writing about other people running about yourself I mean, that was yeah, I would imagine psychologically that changes a lot yeah, I'm really imagine I just yeah yeah it's tough it's super tough okay, cool and you know that's another thing there's a key that, um we're not even asking questions just answer teo but my resource is what I do when I'm reading it I just try to read great writing right now I mean right on winning nabokov or something that I'm not riding on you know what I mean? But I just try to read the best writing I can because I feel like I would do that before I wrote for rolling stone I got my first rolling stone assignment I went and before I sat down to write I read like five rolling stone features just to brainwash myself in train get in that mode so I actually do the same thing if there was a long time where I tried to write I had writers I thought were incredible and I'll try to emulate them what their style was too far from mine right um so again john mcphee like coming into the country just makes me want to cry like this stuff is so good of you but I really like that uh brigade the cuisine about cooking like amazing short story in any case I cannot be him right? But stylistically that my voice is actually pretty close like a kurt vonnegut so I started reading a lot of kurt vonnegut we're reading a lot of curve on again and I was like, okay, let me write this like if I'm blocked forget about tim farriss forget about the reader I'm just going to write two pages as if I were carbonic like how would he write this in just a little bit yeah and then it's just a psychological trick to get you into putting words down but it's funny if I find an author I love like a fiction I'll trace it backward like if you take bukowski the newly john fante then you read like newt hampson hunger or something they all like there's there's just one hundred you know some are forty years apart summer are one hundred years apart just actually imitating you could tell they found each other's book and did exactly yeah. All right. Great. Okay, we have a question from sea trout who wonders do you have an opinion on building a book through gaining credibility via blawg versus writing first and then using blogging e books that spin off that us first? I mean my thoughts from curious to your thoughts. Okay, so the question is do you want other get credibility of versatile blawg then right? And get flogged to book our book to blood right? I got it. Okay, yeah. I mean, yeah, I think we want the opposite of this way from yes, I wanted for war way too early for any of this slurring his words wait so I think I think my simple answer for that is that's a good example of like putting the horse before the cart so I won't even start think about home promoting her doing I would just not writing my book, so I thought if if a blog's gonna discipline you to get your book written and have those deadlines, then I go block booked for now, I want think about marketing promotion literally you can do it on both ends for me. I like to keep my books a big secret, a big surprise. And I like when my book comes out for to feel like an offense and and also to maybe break a story. I want my books actually break a tell a story that hasn't been told before and break that, so I'd liketo keep that surprise going, but I think some people can use those bob logs not for early promotion, but to motivate themselves. Get reading down on deadline and get that feed back. The last thing I'll say on that is, um, it's funny here's the thing about publishing, but we want to get published in this kind of pressing all they really care about now in publishing a book deal is what is the size of your platform, like literally, if you have enough twitter from our nonfiction and facebook followers. You know, if you could just prove that you can prove and this is kind of what you did in your proposal in a way, you know, for your fur because, you know, if you can prove that khun sell ten thousand copies of a book, that's it, you see, if you can prove to a public that you will sell ten thousand copies, you'll probably get a book deal. Yeah, and what just one book selling real fast? Actually, maybe you really talk too much about this, but if you get in a list agent, you'll sell your, uh so step one from my perspective is getting an agent, not because I can't sell books on my own. I don't want to deal with all the battles that you will always have with any publisher over certain aspects of the end product. I don't want to deal. So like steve, my agent he's awesome. Like what? The harvard divinity school raised men tonight like plays in a jazz band really cool guy also knows the business because he ran the piano for a bunch of arms of harper college, which is profit loss. Yeah, sorry, so if they're like, well, we'd love to, but we can't do this he's like really like I know where you from your books of course it cost that much so uh that's just the point on agents real fast and publisher's marketplace dot com is where you find a lot information of that so block to book book the block I did book the block quite frankly I don't know what the hell blogged wass and I thought because the publisher was going to be doing we want to control these various pieces the only thing left for me to play with was online so I was like guess I should figure out what blowing is and it started that way and uh if I think that block to book not from a promotional standpoint but from a writing standpoint makes a lot of sense because if you cannot write of laud post a week that's five hundred to seven fifty words there's no way in hell that you should write a book no way and so to just test the waters to find like do you actually enjoy writing on any level? Uh I think the block is a useful tool wordpress just just to give an unsolicited piece of advice they're plenty of log platforms as faras like out of the box seo friendly, widely adopted, easily supported wordpress I think is the way to go and, uh, full disclosure I mean, I'm an adviser too automatic were personal calm folks basically anything tech tim says he's right there my e I used word that only happened last few months I've been I've been using where chris forever and, uh the balog a couple of examples that you can look at uh, right now this moment the smitten kitchen cookbook top of the charts it is top of the charts and that came out of a block it's a good example bay carella also sobeih carella dot com like cake pops who popularise that like boom huge cultural gestalt are zeitgeist I think is proper word all my german um is uh another example blocked the book uh but there are a lot there mork crappy books come out of logs than good books. There are a handful of good ones because there's very they're not all content goes from super short form toh long form well, cooking does right like photographs, recipes, that's the same as in a cookbook you're just doing one recipe at a time is a poster in time book that works but you take a bunch of like mediocre block posts and try to put it into a three hundred page book it very fickle he does not turn out very well and I think that many people who are good at riding five hundred seven or fewer pieces and that's a skill are not they don't have the proper hard wiring or the interest to write something that is one hundred organized because it's a different beast, you know what I mean? It's a different beast altogether cool! I have a question fantastic! Well calling this question, which this is the mic like my question, which is obviously we're looking at tech and were things going in the future to me where I've been wanting looks to go for years, but I feel like stuck by us, I want to see this question then, okay, which is why I always dream like the future be writing books is there's me and there's, a designer programmer, and I'm creating awesome book where you turn the page and maybe that sounds because in a book you're trying to draw people into a world increasingly, we turn the page and you feel that sound, maybe whatever. If you're writing fiction made the leaves just drop over the pages, you're reading it and you hear the sound of blowing, you feel that you should make bring people further because it's that escape is they want to bring people in that world. Now, the thing is, you can do that now with with, with, with my books and things and moving toward that, but with the kindle you're stuck with kind of eating you know and you can't really and most of most digital books on kindle again, I think fifty percent of market is still I think print books so you know, what do you do you think? Is it worth it sitting there to sort of design an immersive digital book experience? Um and we'll never get there, so I'll answer I guess I think we'll get there uh this is it's gonna be a bloodbath in the next few years, right? Because all of these businesses that were previously separate separate apple, google, amazon there just they're all trying to the same thing. So amazon has kindle fire hd I gotta compete against the ipad, but they're cutting back the margins because they want to actually sell the content as opposed to the hardware I mean not not speaking for amazon but that's that's just the popular perception and for me at least mice a part of it was fun for me like with for our chef it's the first time I've ever had full color thousands of photos, illustrations, calvin and hobbes cartoons on page supermodel in full color on the other like awesome right for everybody and I had so much fun creating something that's physically beautiful, I want to take it another step exactly I want to have that like world class designer who's not like juggling twenty projects right like the world class designer and then the world classic interaction design programmer right like let's think up something has never been done right and that's the author now you'll have that team that's my dear I think that there's a very good chance you're gonna have like he's big publishers and is just going to splinter into these like publisher creators right who have these independent teams but pragmatically speaking a lot of people don't have the interest or perhaps the ability to run a business so I think there will be many different shops that offer the steps services which they're all are all they they exist already a lot of them are being bought by places I've random house or rams honor or what have you so I think you know publishing has never been more exciting then that's even kendall dominates the market's really kid does it does that on that well, it dominates the market but my feeling is when people look at let's say we're getting a little off track but I'll take it just like another minute e I think that you're honest injun where things you know but it's like so you're probably get five years for instance it's like I love certain bookstore's like this were circled omnivore books san francisco's all cookbooks right? They will survive for long long time because they have expertise relationships the launcher is that nobody else has yeah so it's like I don't have anything against independent bookstores a lot people see like amazon there like ten first wants to like, you know, throw kindles like ninja stars and all the independent booksellers tell them it's like no, I don't have any it's not that it is a market driven business if the customers find something more convenient, they're going to choose that if they find it less expensive they're going to choose it and so there's this sort of tsunami of of demand that's driving things towards digital but I think they'll take many different for months and I don't know where that will go but I think at the end of the day mohr things stay the same than change yeah, so talking musician today and fifty percent of the sales are still cds yeah, yeah and also admit the end of the day it's like you need to be at least in writing to me you need to be able to tell the story, right? Whether it's a nonfiction or fiction, you need to be able to tell a story and you can look at let's say stanford d school has some really interesting free online material for a story arcs things like that joseph campbell uh so who was brought in by the way also, I think he's brought in by george lucas himself helped craft story arc of the first three star wars. If you learn to tell a story, you'll be able to write books, sell more things, create more businesses, uh, have a mating advantage. Yeah, like, maybe, like you need to be able to captivate attention. And the truth is this, like I hear I'll tell you last quick thing, and then we'll go, you got internet is getting out of the way that loves you. We just gotta go to break. So, uh, last last thing is, is that that that that people on people want to write how to books and its interest? I did the game, and then which was really a story, then ruled the game, which which is the how to part of it in the game I find only sold better, but taught people more that the brain through storytelling, the brain learns through metaphor through storytelling bullet a list of ten things to do that we want that because we're really in that quick information time now does not teach us it. Stories in metaphors that teaches yeah, great, just one example of that. One of my one, my friends, great writer a j jacobs writes for esquire does a lot of these crazy experiments also hysterical guy actually, first time I talked to him he was writing a book called the year of living biblically, which taught me more about religion than any other like serious book I've ever read but be howto outsource your life portion that's like ten page thing the four hour workweek was from him. He wrote it in esquire and at the time he tells the story and one of his later books, he's like if I had known, I would have asked for money he's, like some guy I've ah supplement was like whatever fine music but a j jacobs also is a good example of how to teach a lot without seeming like you're teaching a lot, you know what? Uh cool s so so, yeah, I think my last message because we've been talking a lot about writing it's just do you get one shot at life, you know? And you just you have to do what you love it when you care about what you're passionate about it. We all know plenty of rich people who are miserable, so it's like just friggin, you know, ask yourself that question now decided to get out of this is what would I be doing if I didn't get paid for it? And I do that I'm good enough at it? Well, then you get paid for it, I love it, thank you