A yellow legal pad.
20 pages of observations and half sentences.
A fresh cup of coffee.
Welcome to Jerry Seinfeld’s morning for the past 30 years.
He sees himself as an athlete.
His sport is standup comedy.
And his practice is writing.
“Stand up comedy is a profession of writing.”
Jerry has a specific system for this morning practice.
It has some rules:
1) Technique that matters
2) Stop the torture
3) Live for the re-write
4) Run the experiment
5) Never break the chain
6) Treat yourself like a baby
Let’s get into it…
1) The technique is stupidly simple:
“You can’t do anything else.
You don’t have to write, but you can’t do anything else.”
No checking your phone.
Either write or stare at a wall.
His creative fuel?
A yellow legal pad with 20 pages of observations and half-baked ideas.
2) Stop the Torture
You MUST have an end time for your writing session
“If you have the guts to sit down and write, you need a reward at the end of the session.”
And that reward is the alarm goes off and you’re done.
Extra tip from Jerry: If you can do 30 minutes, make your session 20.
If you can do an hour, make it 45 minutes.
Never completely exhaust yourself.
3) 95% of writing is re-write
Jerry splits time across free play and polishing.
Free play is using the yellow legal pad to spur ideas.
Polishing is perfecting each word.
Making each joke ready for “the experiment”.
4) Run the experiment
You now have a bunch of words.
You then deliver them to an audience.
They dump a bunch of data on you.
“This is good, this is okay, this is terrible.”
Then you go back to re-writing and re-framing jokes or adding new ones.
5) Treat yourself like a baby
“Writing is the most difficult thing in the world.”
So be kind to yourself.
“When writing, treat your brain like a toddler, and then when you look at it the next day, you want to be a hard-ass.”
6) Don’t break the chain
Jerry has a yearly calendar.
For each day he writes, he X’s that spot.
Over time, he builds a chain.
The longer the chain, more you have invested.
The more you have invested, the less you want to break it.
There you have it!
Have an amazing rest of your week,
p.s. Hit reply and let me know whose system I should deconstruct next! I always love to hear from you.