Whether it’s watching re-runs of Seinfeld, videos like this, or his new web-series Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee I just love listening to Seinfeld talk shop and tell jokes.
His style comes across as so effortless and fun that it’s enough to make you believe it might just be possible for you to tell great jokes too. That is, until you try. That’s when you figure out writing is difficult; even if you’re just writing down funny observations.
6 Writing Tips from Jerry Seinfeld
As the video above explains, there’s a method to Seinfeld’s mild-mannered madness and a process that helps bring out a his comedic brilliance. Let’s take a look at six elements to that process and see if we can’t apply them to writing in general.
1. Begin with a solid premise.
For Jerry it was pop-tarts. For you or me it might be anything else, so long as we have something worth listening to to say about it.
2. Win over your audience right away.
A good first line goes a long way. If a title or headline is the hook, a compelling first line is the line and sinker.
3. Personalize your process.
For you or me that may not mean we always write in long hand on yellow legal pads with clear blue bic pens, but finding a way to write that feels true to who we are can help the ideas flow.
4. Caring about the details goes a long way towards delivering a cohesive whole.
In the video Seinfeld mentions that he is so precise when it comes to crafting a transition from one joke to another that he will “shave letters off of words” and count syllables until it’s right. That’s craftsmanship that goes beyond just joke writing. Sounds more like a dedicated poet.
This tip is a great reminder that no matter what we’re writing, language and words – the right words – make all the difference.
5. Despite all of the evidence to the contrary, time spent getting something right is not time wasted.
When it comes down to it a joke finished faster is not a joke that is funnier. Or funny at all. The same goes for other types of writing. The goal should be effectiveness. Achieving what you want with the words you’ve chosen. Not just getting it done.
6. Be willing to wait for a worthy ending.
This one goes hand-in-hand with number five. Seinfeld waited two years to get the final joke on a bit about pop-tarts just right. Two years! Some people write multiple novels in two years. But again, it’s about craftsmanship. Not settling.
Did I miss anything?
So that’s what I pulled from this video. Did I miss anything? Am I potentially crazy and just imagining writing advice when famous people talk? Let me know!