The biggest thing to me was that I learned that motivation was something that could come after you force yourself to wake up early and just get started. There were many days where we decided to not show up and skipped the days. The rest of the days that we did show up, I never ever regretted them. We came up with some hilarious ideas (at least to us) and would just sit there laughing like idiots in the coffeeshop.
We eventually launched our "publication" on Medium, and it of course fell flat because there needs to be a level of marketing and consistent effort for years before you have a dedicated following. But, those few months were some of the most creative months I've ever had in my life. I loved it. Was it a huge success? Not in the least. Was it even funny? No idea, our friends thought the articles were pretty funny, but other than that, it made it nowhere. If anybody wants to check it out -- https://medium.com/thedailylemming
After reading this article, though, I think what OP wrote is sort of not what I imagined. Sitting at home alone churning out ideas to some faceless email for a name on your resume is not my idea of creativity, I guess. I like the concept of sitting at a table and just sort of ping ponging ideas until you get something that is amazing. Of course I can say that since I'm not an actual writer and I can do this on the side and be picky and choosy as much as I want.
I had a similar experience doing a podcast  with a group of 6 others, each putting out one episode per day. It felt like failing the group if anyone had to skip their day, as we came close to a year without a break. I'd spend hours researching and scripting my episodes while riding the bus, waiting for a friend at a bar, or just winding down before bed. It was peak creativity for me and I'm happy with how it all turned out.
But after a while we got burned out and decided to stop, with the idea that we'd keep making our own podcasts. But without that mutual duty to release daily, no one to date has actually put anything out. The deadline/responsibility was the only way to make it happen–at least for me.
 - https://www.podcastdotcom.net/early-bird-news/2018/8/5/8-5-1...
In one case  I ended up with a teaser + 3 parter that wasn't super congruent because research for part 3 sort of changed how I would have approached the script for the previous two.
Teaser - https://www.podcastdotcom.net/early-bird-news/2019/2/16/s2e4...
I - https://www.podcastdotcom.net/early-bird-news/2019/2/24/s2e5...
II - https://www.podcastdotcom.net/early-bird-news/2019/3/3/s2e61...
III - https://www.podcastdotcom.net/early-bird-news/2019/3/10/s2e6...
In the case of the format the parent used, the work is in the research and writing the script.
Of course, once you get to podcasts with multiple segments, edited content from multiple guests, scripted narration, etc. that's a lot more work.
Not saying a weekly podcast isn't a number of hours work in any case, but it needn't be too bad once you have a system down if you keep it simple.
while pandering to your audience is bad you _do_ need feedback - so a catch 22. If you have a chance to play with ideas with a couple of other writers/comedians who take the process serious, feedback worth gold because nothing beats bouncing your ideas off one another. the other route is to try to do it all by yourself like Stewart Lee who is imho a comedy god - but it requires insane levels of dedication, self-control and tenacity to get there (alone). Whether you're into comedy or not, Stewart Lee's "Content Provider" (imho) is a must watch for anyone who thinks about digital media (most people who reads HN).
one of my favorite sources on how to constantly be creative (not just in in the space of comedy) is John Cleese and Keith Johnstone's "Impro".
 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uovt1sC3rtM&list=PLWsk2FPzPs... (sharing this list feels wrong because jokes on stage live on back-references to previous jokes so much is lost)
This is such a great reminder. Thank you for sharing!
Sorry your publication didn't take off - it's entertaining.
Yeah, the biggest trap is to wait for motivation/inspiration before you start working. This rarely works!!!
The correct but counterintuitive way is to start working. After a while motivation/inspiration will come.
After reading this article, though, I think what OP
wrote is sort of not what I imagined. Sitting at
home alone churning out ideas to some faceless email
for a name on your resume is not my idea of creativity
It's always sort of been that way in "the biz" though, from what I've been able to discern, though I never realized it was quite so impersonal at times. You have joke writers who churn out tons and tons of stuff for comedians, editors, etc. who sort of mine that output for ideas. I remember reading about how David Letterman's Top 10 lists were produced and I think the writers blasted out like 200+ ideas a night for those lists, just so they could narrow it down to 10.
But I always thought there was some kind of ping-ponging of ideas, like you said. To me that's how comedy ideas have always developed, in my personal never-actually-done-this-for-a-living experience.
:joy emojii with tears:
Ideally you should find how you can extract the most out of your intellect and use that. There's a right way and a wrong way, but not on a collective level, only in an individual one.
I do not think that you can make a habit of producing good ideas but if you produce enough ideas you will end up producing at least a few good ones, it is only a matter of time.
Also having a good storage system let me revisit ideas that were imperfect at a later point in time when I might have the correct frame of mind or knowledge to improve on them.
This mean that I end up producing more good ideas on the long run.
Finally, I try to accumulate knowledge. I found the ideas of other people to be a great source of inspiration (either because I misunderstand them at a cursory glance, leading to creation, or by building on their concepts). Furthermore, keeping files on ideas I find interesting appears to be a force multiplier to improve the quality of my output: the more tools I have and the more problems I can solve.
Nobody remembers the failed attempts because they likely never even saw them. The good shit spreads.
It's just work.
Bach wrote more music than any individual will ever hear!
And so it's like mining - some rocks, some gems, a lot of in between.
Reading about the exercises is interesting but unless you actually try them out they are just a curiosity. I think the muscle analogy really fits when it comes to creativity.
I like "The Improv Handbook" by Tom Salinsky and Deborah Frances-White
No experience necessary, if you want to learn and play some games - you're welcome!
I would say being in a good mood, and being carefree - completely non-judgemental of one's own thoughts. So being in an environment were 'nothing matters'. Even going to an office, there are 100 little things we are doing to be professionally conformist. So avoiding that. Sometimes it's hard for organised people to feel comfortable with disorganisation. So trying to get in a state of mind where it doesn't matter.
Doing something that is 'not serious' can help with this. So if the project has literally no purpose this may help creatively though it can really hurt the impetus to 'get it done'.
It seems like a trope, but getting to the place of the 'inner child' is certainly real. Remember when you had zero responsibilities and didn't plan ahead even 10 minutes? Totally care free. That space is hard for a lot of people because I think we feel it will make us fully 'child like' or that we lose our 'adult' demeanour. Or will be construed by others to be 'irresponsible'.
Doing something that's closer to raw creativity. Having fun in photoshop, experimenting with filters etc. - this has nothing to do with anything but a weird lesson I learned long ago there was to just 'let go' of whatever you're trying to do, and just 'go where it takes you', i.e. to be open to whatever your subconscious or a bit of randomness is happening, as opposed to the construct you might have in your head.
In improv they have this notion of 'yes, and' - which is to say whatever the other actor says, you have to go along with. It's really amazing to see how that works, and how minds can form coherency out of that.
The more proficient one is with the tools: code, frameworks, audio eng. DAW, photoshop, words, paint, musical instrument - the less mind space they occupy and the more you can do what you want.
And of course 'just doing'. Sometimes literally putting pen to paper, trying something even if you have no clue what you are doing, is a neat place to start.
Also looking at other people's work. In design, going to Behance to see other people's work is really inspiring. It's neat to see how creative frontiers are ever expanding.
You can grind in circles for ages with any topic or medium. The trick is to find a directed approach, which means getting a little more philosophical about it and then following through on that philosophy. Exploring simple themes like those in the ancient myths and legends, metaphysical ideas, moral reasoning, and technical philosophy like "what sorts of marks I can draw that successfully indicate the thing I see." These all come together when you go to make a completely realized, coherent performance or piece of media.
Identifying, respecting and following through on the conceptual structure gets you to passable skills of craft in most every field, and it's very available with effort and an existing appreciation of the medium: just start doing deep analysis of existing work. Take notes, write about the key elements using the concepts you know. Try to reproduce those parts you don't understand. Appreciation of the whole is always the first step, because dismissing any part is likely to mislead you.
But what you ultimately want to approach through the philosophy is chaotic interaction: "What happens when I put these two things together?" "I don't know." "Well, try it and find out." And then you're doing research - your philosophical framework should be strong enough to come up with a falsifiable hypothesis: "why does this joke work or not work? Because A, B, C." This is approached intuitively at first and gradually codified as you go on. You might come out of it with a singular work, or a formula for a whole set of them. It tends to be the case that career creatives can spend their entire life exploring and iterating on a tiny set of principles, which explains style distinction.
Edit: And I should add to this, "what are good examples of this in practice?" Improv acting is one of the best because it derives its energy and reliability from having underlying structure in the form of recurring characters and improv games. If the characters know each other and are familiar with a collection of games(which act as a kind of guard rail for staying coherent, a way to haul things back to creative productivity) they can reconfigure the scene in an instant and seamlessly recover from points where it slows down, and make everything look totally believable while still being surprising. I'm a bit too much of a deep-thinker to keep up in improv, but it's a useful signpost for "how do I get in that zone?"
Let's say one were 90th percentile level good, what is the out/endgame for how much money a writer can make these days? Like if you're the writing version of the most entry level pro player on a hockey or basketball team - in the big leagues, but still bottom rung of a tall ladder, are you earning average software developer income at that point?
Almost all the pro writers I've known (n=50) had one of a higher-earning spouse, independent means/inherited real estate, an editing/teaching job that they occasionally wrote through, or a grant funded position or fellowship.
Assuming it's Pareto distributed where the top %20 of writers make %80 of writing income, how much can a good writer expect to make?
Great subjects like a Michael Jordan interview talking about Scotty would superseed any average/good/great writing ability.
I don't find the writing great in the 4 hour work week. But it sold well. A great writer wouldn't have added much in terms of income generated.
Marketing matters more for income.
By that measure, the 4 Hour Workweek was a great bit of writing. I like triads, so I'd say it's a balance of Topic, Timing, and Talent. Three is best, but if you aren't a contender with two, you don't have a chance. I've been thinking about returning to it as a vocation, but don't think the economics of writing make sense right now, hence the question.
Ok overthinking it. There are probably different "formations" of the stool. Imagine each axis on a scale from 1 to 10. A 10 topic and 10 timing can get by with as low as a 4 writing talent. A 7 topic and 2 timing can make up for the gap with a writing talent of 8.
Some of these jobs are unlikely to be at SWE level but they are mostly reasonable corporate salaries.
I know this is kinda dragging a tangential thing in here, but it really can't be overstated how much Facebook hollowed out the sector. We're talking rockefeller rolling up oil refineries, except instead of cutting them in zuck just middle-manned their entire distribution chain and squeezed them to death.
And yes, if you're looking for full spectrum technicalities here amazon and microsoft and yahoo all shaved a few % each themselves too.
But the high order bit, in 2020, is unequivocally FB.
Babylon Bee is fantastic, I absolutely love it. They are as close as you will get to a 10 year old onion.
I highly recommend Onion's new podcast - The Topical as a detox for real news by the EOD; Ironically some times Onion's news contain more truth than real(air quotes) news!
 Google Podcast - https://podcasts.google.com/feed/aHR0cHM6Ly9mZWVkcy5tZWdhcGh...
 Apple Podcast - https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-topical/id14946007...
I cannot fathom how you think this is "not that special". Of _course_ it's a bigger deal to be allowed to roast the president to his face and an audience consisting of his strongest supporters than to be critical of the government to a (probably smaller audience) of people who already agree with you.
If this happened in the current administration it would be met with a severe character assassination by the president, Fox News, OAN, etc. His ego is simply too fragile to handle any sort of criticism.
Of course the only way it could happen in the first place would be to trick them into thinking it wasn't going to be a roast in the first place.
A lot of the interest comes from seeing how far comedians can go without the much more powerful government doing something we don't agree with happening to them. Usually, if the government wanted, there is some way to make anybody's life miserable.
It is still very easy to piss off powerful people, even though it isn't a routine thing where everyone is afraid of criticizing. People aren't afraid of criticizing.
Btw, Wisecrack did an interesting episode on News by comedians recently which goes bit deeper on the history and where it is now.
They just absolutely nail the satire in that one-liner, time after time after time.
> "Although we've traditionally dedicated 97 percent of our resources to other important services such as contraception distribution, cancer screening, and STD testing, this new complex allows us to devote our full attention to what has always been our true passion: abortion," said Richards, standing under a banner emblazoned with Planned Parenthood's new slogan, "No Life Is Sacred."
> "WASHINGTON—Calling the last four days of American life just…I mean, talk about a goddamned punch in the gut, citizens across the nation confirmed today that, Jesus, this week.
This fucking week, sources added.
It was supposed to be a joke, but was prescient, promising a "Gulf War-level armed conflict in the next four years" and a deep recession.
And with MacBook trackpads getting larger, and their keyboards getting smaller and more terrible, it's starting to look less like satire and more like prophecy.
I just started writing my newsletter at https://leveragethoughts.substack.com/ and I am currently building my writing muscle.
1. What does it feel like to work a job that's pretty morally unambiguously doing good? (Making people laugh)
2. Their interview process sounds a bit like tech take home assignment. If they reject the interviewee, do they get to keep all their ideas? At least they don't make them do improv in front of an interviewer in real time... (equivalent of a white board leet code interview?)
the worst are the Fermi Comedy questions;
How many mimes slip on bananas in Paris
If you fill the Empire State Building with helium how many people in New York will sound like dorks?
stuff like that, awful.
And see the other submissions.
Heart goes out to whoever is wading through that mess.
(It is indeed funny, and still relevant).
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For example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7IEwBrJzhlg
I think The Onion is bad for society.
It spawned numerous knockoff websites that would mislead people "because it's funny!".
If you are scrolling through a website, do you click on every article? Read every detail? And research the root website?
Or do you skim, read mostly headlines and occasionally deep dive?
How many "satire" website headlines do you subconsciously believe?
All for "humor", which is rarely found tbh.
For example: https://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2012/02/congres...
Imagine someone who can't even handle the Onion trying to process challenging satire. The kind that might get you to change your mind, rather than the Onion/Daily Show brand of pats on the head for agreeing with established orthodoxy.
ITYM MAD Magazine, at least after the 80s.
It was hilarious when I was 12; these days, not so much.
You read a seemingly innocent headline, and move on with your day.
I butchered that, but I believe it was sourced from Reddit, maybe a mod or administrator.
A similar thing happened with the 1970s TV show "All In The Family". Its main character, Archie Bunker, is uneducated, chauvinistic, bigoted, and selfish. Many people got the joke, but I think plenty of people saw Archie and their main thought was, "This guy is just like me." They did a good job of portraying him as a real human being. (If he had been a one-dimensional punching bag character, the show would not have worked as well.) He was a working class guy whose frustrations with his situation were rooted in reality, so you couldn't fault him for that part. He just responded to those problems in all the wrong ways. But seeing the right ways to respond requires a certain kind of enlightenment, so this part went over some people's heads.
"...“But,” says one, “I am a busy man; I have no time for the long course of study which would be necessary to make me in any degree a competent judge of certain questions, or even able to understand the nature of the arguments.”
Then he should have no time to believe."
It's not always obvious.