To all the writing perfectionists …

I’m following on from my previous post, Why I Write, and promise this will be one minute and fifty-four seconds well spent. The YouTube clip I’m recommending is titled – Ira Glass on the Creative Process. I know there’s a plethora of wonderful writing advice out there, but this one sticks for me.

What is Ira Glass known for, besides his enviable abs and self-effacing humour?

this american life 1

Photo credit: The Onion

Mr Glass’s award winning radio show,  This American Life, tells the stories of ordinary Americans, most of them true and most of them by or about everyday people. Don’t let the word, ‘Americans’ put you off; these stories are fascinating because they are about all of us. This American Life is broadcast on nearly 600 stations (including ABC radio, Australia), and is consistently the top Podcast on iTunes.

Da da … Ira Glass on the Creative Process, it’s gold:

As an aside, if you’re a commuter or planning a car trip I recommend downloading the $3.79 App and listening to Somewhere in the Arabian Sea

this american life 3

This story is still on their favourites short list and goes for an hour. Fun to listen to Ira Glass getting into big trouble when he asks about sexual relations on the USS John C. Stennis.

What are your golden nuggets of writing advice? I’d love to know. 🙂


This entry was posted in advice to writers, Ira Glass, Life on a warship, NPR, the creative process, This American Life, writing and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to To all the writing perfectionists …

  1. In other words, practise makes perfect and don’t give up. Me like.

  2. I love Ira’s encouraging delivery. He helps me remember when I look back on my older writing, that instead of throwing in the towel (not good enough-bla bla bla) it’s more useful to think, this is a process and I will improve with effort. Just like my house-cleaning skills! 🙂

  3. Debbish says:

    I’m a big fan of the “JUST WRITE!” mantra!

  4. Exactly, and we are! 🙂

  5. Lee-Anne says:

    Wow, I like Ira Glass – so empowering…just do it, keep trying, work! Love it (if only I could just put it into practice!!) 😉

  6. Our taste is ace, Lee-Anne, according to Ira.
    I like his concept of the ‘gap’, but like you, have an attention deficit today. 🙂

  7. Here is my golden nugget, for what it’s worth:
    Too many ‘rules’ can stifle creativity. Ignore them completely when writing your first draft, and use them with care when editing. If you find a word/sentence/paragraph that doesn’t work, and you don’t know WHY it doesn’t work, see if application of one or more of ‘The Rules’ will solve the problem.
    Here is my tongue-in-cheek poem about ‘The Rules’:
    Don’t use the passive voice.
    Don’t use adjectives.
    Don’t use gerunds.
    Don’t use adverbs.
    Don’t use clichés.
    Don’t use ‘rather.’
    Don’t use ‘quite’.
    Don’t use ‘just’.
    Don’t use ‘well’.
    Don’t use ‘was’.
    Don’t use ‘and’.
    Don’t use ‘the’.
    Don’t use ‘a’.
    Don’t use words…
    Publish a notebook with blank pages and let the reader imagine the story.

  8. livelytwist says:

    Hi Susan, Ira’s advice on the video resonates with me, thanks for sharing. I wrote about something similar a couple of weeks ago where I featured Neil Gaiman’s video.

    My golden nugget? Just start and inspiration will find you 🙂

  9. alexkx3 says:

    Reblogged this on The Spice Rack and commented:
    If you’re good enough to know you suck, then you’re good enough to become much better.

    • Thanks for the reblog, Alex. There’s always room for improvement, isn’t there? 🙂

      • alexkx3 says:

        Thanks for sharing this! It’s a big problem for me, wanting to do something perfect or not wanting to do it all. Talent is in many ways the reward you get for hard work and coping with sucking for so long.

  10. Alex, you can go far, and I’m sure I’m not the first to tell you. Sorry, but it’s the teacher in me coming out. Well, I’m not sorry, really.
    I guess thinking you suck makes you strive to be better, as long as you don’t give up!! Don’t you dare!
    Can you sort your share buttons on your blog, please? 🙂

  11. Wonderful advice…And what a creative way of putting his message across. Thanks for introducing me to him. 🙂

  12. You’re very welcome Carol. Your recommendations are always welcome for me, too. 🙂

  13. The only way that works for me is to write from the heart.

  14. The only time I get to listen to the radio is in the car on occasional rides to an appointmt an hr away. It’s This American Life and National Public Radio for me, two platforms that have given me many inspirational posts – some still nascent, some fuller drafts, others published. =)

  15. Such encouragement from a master storyteller. Thanks for that, Susan. I hadn’t seen the short video before, but glad you posted it. To return the favor – in case you’ve not come across this yet, here is a link to a terrific article/interview with Ira that recently came out from Life Hacker in their series of This is How I Work–
    I hope you find it as fascinating and useful as I have.

  16. Pingback: To all the writing perfectionists ... - Best Selling Book

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