The Moment with Brian Koppelman – Brian Answers Listener Questions

Key Takeaways

  • We ALL have fears and doubts about our creative pursuits
  • Make time to do the creative work you want to do
    • Even if you can only set aside a half hour a day, it adds up over time
  • Try writing “morning pages” – this is something Brian does every day as soon as he wakes up
    • What are morning pages? – At the start of every day, you write down everything on your mind
      • It’s essentially a huge brain dump (fears, worries, thought, anxieties, ideas…everything)
      • By doing this, you free yourself from the perfectionism, and the fears that hinder your creativity

Books Mentioned

Intro

  • Brian Koppelman (T: @briankoppelman IG: @briankoppelman) is a screenwriter, novelist, director, and producer
  • In this episode, Brian answers some listener questions about how to be your most creative self
    • For future episodes like this, submit questions on Twitter using #AskBKopp
  • “We all have thoughts of doubt that race through our minds, but I’ve found ways to do the workdespite the thoughts. It doesn’t mean they go away.”

What techniques does Brian use to help safeguard his creativity from fear and stress?

  • Something Brian realized a long while back about work:
    • “If I wasn’t finding something to do during the day that allowed me to access the best part of myself, other stuff couldn’t possibly make me happy”
  • After reading The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, Brian developed the practice of writing “morning pages” at the start of every day
    • What are morning pages? – At the start of every (EVERY) day, you write down everything on your mind – it’s essentially a huge brain dump (fears, worries, thought, anxieties, ideas…everything)
      • Brian aims for ~3 pages 
      • “You’re really just putting this stuff on paper. You’re dumping your subconscious down. You’re not lifting your pen. You’re hand writing 3 pages and you’re just letting it go.”
      • By doing this – you free yourself from the perfectionism, and the fears that hinder your creativity
  • Other things Brian does daily:
    • He meditates
    • He tries to take a long walk
  • Advice – Just find a couple of hours a day (or fewer, whatever you can afford) and just work on your creative pursuit 
    • A little bit every day, over time, adds up
    • Even just a half hour a day
    • But doing it EVERY DAY build momentum
  • Another book that might help – Awaken the Giant Within by Tony Robbins

How does Brian process ideas?

  • “If an idea pops up, I will right away send an email to myself”
    • The email simply contains a description of the idea
  • Brian then tries to walk around thinking about the idea, and lets it sit/marinate

How do you differentiate between getting out of your comfort zone and doing something inauthentic?

  • “I don’t think about that”
  • “I just follow my curiosity and obsessions. If I’m curious enough about something that it keeps me engaged, interested, focused, and connected, then I won’t worry if it’s out of my comfort zone. I’m going to keep chasing it down.”
    • Brian knew next to nothing about the financial word before writing Billions…but he was curious
  • Brian says he intentionally tries to do things at times that he knows he’s not comfortable doing – “It forces me to remember what it’s like to take a risk”
    • An example of this – writing songs and then playing them for people (he puts some of them up on his website)
    • “I’m doing this because as an artist, if I have an idea, I don’t ever want to be scared to chase it”
      • “When the spark occurs, light the fire with it, and see what’s gonna burn down”

Does Brian ever get burned out?

  • Not really, but he gets tired
    • Brian estimates he can only write for ~4 hours a day max
    • “This work… I find it nourishing somehow. I feel more alive when I do it.”
    • “It’s hard as fucking hell to write well and produce work every day, and a lot of the time I feel like a failure and I can’t do it well, but for all that….it still feels nourishing and like it’s lighting me up”

How does Brian nourish himself to keep his creative spark alive?

  • By doing lots of things…
    • Meditating
    • Taking long walks
    • Writing morning pages
    • Reading
    • Doing cardio 
    • Listening to music
    • Watching movies
  • “I want to keep stoking the flame by taking in great work. I want to engage with that great work, and ask myself questions about it, and let myself get stirred by that art”

Are there any rules Brian follows when writing?

  • “Think about communicating the story in the way you want to tell it to the audience that you envision reading it and watching it”
  • The main goal – Write something so compelling that the reader HAS to pay attention
    • Write something so interesting that DEMANDS the reader pay attention

On Rewriting and Editing

  • When doing creative work you become emotionally attached to it
  • So….“The act of rewriting has to start from a place of dispassion”
    • In the first draft – blow through it, don’t let any doubts pop into your head
    • But after that – “You need to bring your coldest eye to it”
      • This might mean you don’t look at the piece for a week after writing the first draft, because the first week after you write it, you’ll still be emotionally connected to it
        • “You have to wait until it cools off. The same way you might let a steak rest before cutting into it…let the piece of material rest until YOU know it’s the right temperature for you to deal with, and then get in there and do the work.”

Book Recommendations

How do you know when to share a piece of work for feedback?

  • “You want to share your work when you can’t figure out how to make it better anymore”
    • Perhaps you’re not sure of a path forward…then you know it’s time
    • In a sense…you’re stuck
  • Then show it to people you trust – “People who you think can read for your own intentions”
  • “Do not share it with the people to whom you’re trying to prove something”

These notes were edited by RoRoPa Editing Services

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