Creativity by Committee?

#creativewriting Jul 07, 2021

Paul Feig helped bring you lots of things you love, such as Freaks & Geeks, Bridesmaids, and The Office.

These shows are unlike their competitors.

Paul Feig says that creative material that works is almost always the vision of one person. Teams are great at lots of things, but creating something that is emotionally inspiring is rarely one of them.

The point?

If you hire a writer or a creative type, give them latitude to do what they do best. You might be able to improve it with tweaks near the end, but in the messy heart of the creative process, stay out of the way.

And if you're a writer or a creative type, stand up for your vision. If you don't, you may keep the gig but what you produce will typically be second rate.

Paul Feig's a smart guy. (Funny, too.)


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Lessons From Other Kinds of Art

#creativewriting Jul 01, 2021

Writing is an art, even the writing we do for business. One way we get better at our own art is to examine art from other people.

I recently shared some thoughts from Nile Rodgers, founder of the band Chic and the creator of some of the most carefully crafted and memorable (and happy!) music of the second half of the 20th century.

Another lesson from Nile Rodgers? In the middle of the excess of the disco era, Rodgers threw on the brakes.

Listen to one of his biggest hits, "Good Times." He reduced the recording to the foundational elements of the genre: the bassline, nuanced percussion, and his own "scratching" rhythm guitar. In this way, the few "extras" -- the well placed string flourishes and the keyboard licks you're remembering right now -- are forced to stand out, highlighting how interesting they are.

This recording is so strong that you've heard pieces of it copied or even lifted outright in other famous recordings such as "Another One Bites the Dust" and "Rappers Delight."


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What Vince Gilligan Said to Me

"Write what you think is interesting. Even if nobody else thinks it is. Stick with it. Fight for it.” Vince created Breaking Bad, so he should know. When I met him a few years ago, that's the advice he gave me. So I do it.

It sure worked out for Bryan Cranston, next to some guy shown here grinning ear to ear.

"But that's for stories," you say. "I write public relations and business and policy."

*Write what's interesting to you* is still the rule -- and in those cases it's even more important. To learn why (and for more on my experiences with Breaking Bad), click the link to ready my latest column.


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More Words You're Using Wrong -- Grandpa Edition

Complicated is not the same as complex.

*Complicated* means something has a lot of parts, as in, "I broke open my grandfather's watch and now I see how complicated that thing is."

*Complex* means difficult to understand, as in, "Einstein's relativity is described by a simple equation, the sort of thing you learn to deal with in junior high math -- but the application of relativity is complex."

The distinction between complex and complicated is **simple**, eh? How ironic!!

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Two Words You're Using Wrong

“Continuous” means “without ceasing.” “Continual” means “stopping and starting” or “regularly.”

You’ve been breathing continuously since you were born. You’ve been complaining about your college loans continually since 2007.

 On a hot day in July, your air conditioner runs continuously, but the bill for the electricity arrives continually, and all summer long.

Politics provides continuous embarrassment. Political campaigns, mercifully, evoke such a feeling only continually.

Here’s how I remember the difference: “continuous” contains an “s,” which is the sound in the word “ceaseless.”

Will knowing this distinction make a big difference in your writing? Not much -- by itself. But as you accumulate this kind of thing, your writing will become more confident and precise, and therefore more persuasive.


The best reason to learn this stuff? It improves not just the...

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How to Get Started Writing Your Book (Really)


Here's an easy way you can get started **in the next two minutes.* NO kidding. And it really works.

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Too Much to Write -- But I Have to Write It!


Even the biggest writing project can be conquered if you write a little at a time....

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If I Asked You to Describe Your Coffee Cup, What Would You Say?


Chances are you’d tell me how it looks. Amiright?

The thing is, there’s more to it than that. Description can include how something feels to the touch, how it smells, how it tastes, and how it sounds.

Stop limiting your descriptions to what you can see – it’s one more easy way to make your writing a lot more compelling. Check the video!

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But How Does It Sound?


The meaning of words is only part of the battle.

How they sound affects how well people pay attention, and makes them more (or less!) likely to accept your message.

Improve your writing by putting this fact to use. Check out the video!

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