What “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” taught me about writing

Today’s guest post comes to you from business writer Anne Brennan.

What “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” taught me about writing

By Anne Brennan

Between the political climate and writing deadlines, sometimes you just need a break.

I’m not really into cars, and I drink coffee strictly for the caffeine, but I do like to laugh, so I am hooked on Jerry Seinfeld’s Netflix show, “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.”

Ironically, I pressed “Play” for the hilarity, but I found out that Seinfeld and his buddies really talk about the writing process and how they mine their lives for material. I find it fascinating.

Does your writing need a jolt? Check these out tips from some of your fave comedians.

1. Keep sharp.

It’s fascinating to see big-time comedians like Eddie Murphy or Steve Martin admit that they are too chicken to jump back onto the comedy stage. They think they lost their edges, and it feels too intimidating. This episode was obviously before Eddie Murphy returned to SNL and killed. (See, I’m picking up the lingo.)

Writing daily in a journal or working on small writing projects helps keep you in the flow, so you don’t have to start from scratch when it’s time to produce material.

2. Work or play?

In one moment, Seinfeld makes Larry David, co-creator of “Seinfeld,” laugh so hard David does a spit-take at the diner. Seinfeld asks: “How did we get any work done?” Their camaraderie has endured, obviously. Ironically, David always hoped the show would get canceled so he didn’t have to write any more episodes.

I had the impression Seinfeld was basically retired, as he quips he doesn’t need money, but then he reveals he works three out of four weekends…and then all of a sudden there are images of him starring in Las Vegas. Hmmm…sounds like work to me.

If writing starts to feel like work, switch to play mode. Write about something fun, take a break, play with your dog, whatever helps shift you from drudgery to enjoyment.

3. Embrace the inner critic.

Every writer has an inner critic. Imagine what it’d be like to have this critic in actual human form, as an audience member, heckler, or even professional paid critic, scowling as you share your writing. Comedians know this is just part of the deal. Some of the funniest stories are about the times they bombed, or how they handled a heckler. Chris Rock shares a story about bombing so badly that HE had to pay the comedy club manager $50 and beg his dad for a ride home.

Suddenly, MY inner critic looks pretty nice.

If you’re questioning yourself during the creative process, acknowledge it. The more you write, the more you’ll develop resilience, just like the comedians.

4. What’s the big idea?

You’d think “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” would focus a lot on show biz talk like agents, tours, and how to land a Netflix deal. Actually, there’s a lot of talk about ideas between the comedians.

Ideas are everything, and not just in show business. This dawned on me when I worked at the Chicago Tribune. The job description said writer/editor, but I felt like I was an idea factory. Everyone was always asking for an idea, in one form or the other.

Seinfeld’s strategy for brainstorming? You just wait. The idea will come. Dave Chappelle lets the idea–no matter how crazy–be the “driver.” He’s basically there for the ride. He puts his ego in the backseat and lets the idea–say, a blind, black white supremacist–take over.

Writers should run with their big ideas.

5. Use sweat equity.

Some guests are NERVOUS. Seth Rogen is visibly sweating during his interview. “Are you nervous?” Seinfeld asks, sipping his coffee.

“Jerry, don’t do this to me,” Rogen says, begging him not to point it out.

If your writing is boring you, take a chance and go a little deeper. Choose a topic that means something to you. Break a sweat.

6. Reasonable doubt shouldn’t stop you.

Are you a little reluctant to submit your blog, white paper, or novel to someone? You have good company. It amazes me that a few of the legendary comedians subtly ask Seinfeld if their episode is going all right. The episodes are about 18 minutes long. At a few points, the guests—this includes David Letterman—ask if the filming is continuing because they’re not providing enough funny material. News flash: Seinfeld was enjoying their company so that’s why they continued filming.

Feeling a little doubtful your writing is hitting the mark? You’ve got good company. Keep on truckin’, so to speak.

7. Use a surprise ending.

Seinfeld interviews a variety of comedians, from his hero, Jerry Lewis, to current star Sebastian Maniscalco. It’s inspiring to see how their stories intertwine, how they started their careers and the twists and turns of fate. You never know where an idea will take you, that’s the fun part of writing…and life. You can see the shock passing over Maniscalco’s face when Seinfeld asks him what he’s doing later after they film.

“Want to come over for dinner?” Seinfeld asks.

Maniscalco’s about to say, “That would be fan…tastic,” but he regains his composure to finish the sentence. His reply: “That would be… fascinating.”

It was hilarious.

Anne Brennan is a freelance writer whose credits include: Chicago Tribune, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Crain’s Chicago Business and Yoga Journal. ​Find writing tips and info at her LinkedIn profile.

The post What “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” taught me about writing appeared first on Susan Weiner's Blog on Investment Writing.

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Sep 13, Grand Remembrances

Today is Grandparents Day in the United States. Being a Grand is a special honor. I feel very blessed that my wife and I have two grandchildren. We were able to visit them today. Yes, we are still being cautious with the coronavirus, but we also find it very difficult to not see them when they live so close. So today we did drop by to visit Jacob (age 10) and Sophia (age 7) along with their parents. We brought donuts and caught up with them. Our grandchildren are still pretty young and this is a precious time in their lives – and ours!

I wish I had known my grandparents better. We never lived in the same place. Dad was a career Air Force pilot, so we moved around a lot. But we did get to see them once in a while when they would visit us, or we them.

A Plague of Giants

There are five known magical ‘kennings’ or types: air, water, fire, earth, and plants. Each nation specializes in of these kennings, and the magic influences the society. There’s a big pitfall with this diversity of ability and locale–not everyone gets along.

Enter the Hathrim giants, or ‘lavaborn’ whose kenning is fire. Where they live the trees that fuel their fire are long gone, but the giants are definitely not welcome anywhere else. They’re big, they’re violent, and they’re ruthless. When a volcano erupts and they are forced to evacuate, they take the opportunity to relocate. They don’t care that it’s in a place where they aren’t wanted.

I first read Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid books and loved them (also the quirky The Tales of Pell), so was curious about this new venture, starting with A PLAGUE OF GIANTS. Think Avatar: The Last Airbender meets Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera series. Elemental magic, a variety of races, different lands. And it’s all thrown at you from page one.

But this story is told a little differently. It starts at the end of the war, after a difficult victory, and a bard with earth kenning uses his magic to re-tell the story of the war to a city of refugees. And it’s this movement back and forth in time and between key players in this war that we get a singularly grand view of the war as a whole. Hearne uses this method to great effect.

There are so many interesting characters in this book that I can’t cover them all here. Often in books like this such a large cast of ‘main’ character can make the storytelling suffer, especially since they don’t have a lot of interaction with each other for the first 3/4 of the book–but it doesn’t suffer, thankfully. And the characterization is good enough, despite these short bursts, that by the end we understand these people and care about what happens to them.

If there were a main character it would be Dervan, a historian who is assigned to record (also spy on?) the bard’s stories. He finds himself caught up in machinations he feels unfit to survive. Fintan is the bard from another country, who at first is rather mysterious and his true personality is hidden by the stories he tells; it takes a while to understand him. Gorin Mogen is the leader of the Hathrim giants who decide to find a new land to settle. He’s hard to like, but as far as villains go, you understand his motivations and he can be even a little convincing. There’s Abhi, the son of hunters, who decides hunting isn’t the life for him–and unexpectedly finds himself on a quest for the sixth kenning. And Gondel Vedd, a scholar of linguistics who finds himself tasked with finding a way to communicate with a race of giants never seen before (definitely not Hathrim) and stumbles onto a mystery no one could have guessed: there may be a seventh kenning.

There are other characters, but what makes them all interesting is that they’re regular people (well, maybe not Gorin Mogen or the viceroy–he’s a piece of work) who become heroes in their own little ways, whether it’s the teenage girl who isn’t afraid to share vital information, to the scholars who suddenly find how crucial their minds are to the survival of a nation, to the humble public servants who find bravery when they need it most. This is a story of loss, love, redemption, courage, unity, and overcoming despair to not give up. All very human experiences by simple people who do extraordinary things.

Hearne’s worldbuilding is engaging. He doesn’t bottle feed you, at first it feels like drinking from a hydrant, but then you settle in and pick up things along the way. Then he shows you stuff with a punch to the gut. This is no fluffy world with simple magic without price. All the magic has a price, and more often than not it leads you straight to death’s door. For most people just the seeking of the magic will kill you. I particularly enjoyed the scenes with Ahbi and his discovery of the sixth kenning and everything associated with it. But giants? I mean, really? It isn’t bad enough fighting people who can control fire that you have to add that they’re twice the size of normal people? For Hearne if it’s war, the stakes are pretty high, and it gets ugly.

The benefit of the storytelling style is that the book, despite its length, moves along steadily (Hearne is no novice, here). The bits of story lead you along without annoying cliffhangers (mostly), and I never got bored with the switch between characters. It was easy to move between them, and they were recognizable enough that I got lost or confused. The end of the novel felt a little abrupt, but I guess that has more to do with I was ready for the story to continue, despite the exiting climax.

If you’re looking for epic fantasy with fun storytelling and clever worldbuilding, check out A PLAGUE OF GIANTS.

The post A Plague of Giants appeared first on Elitist Book Reviews.

The Artwork Of Gary Choo

Gary Choo is a concept artist/illustrator based in Singapore. I’ve know Gary for a good many years ( 17, actually ), working together in animation studios in Singapore like Silicon Illusions and Lucasfilm. Gary currently runs an art team at Mighty Bear Games, but when time allows he also draws covers for Marvel comics, and they’re amazing –

The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo

To see more of Gary’s work or to engage him for freelance work, head down to his ArtStation.

The post The Art Of Gary Choo appeared first on Halcyon Realms – Art Book Reviews – Anime, Manga, Film, Photography.