The Writing Process, Pursuing Creativity & Life Advice | Brian Koppelman on The Knowledge Project with Shane Parrish

Check out The Knowledge Project Episode Page & Show Notes

Key Takeaways

  • Brian Koppelman practices transcendental meditation for 20 minutes twice a day
  • If you don’t follow your creativity and allow your creative impulses to die, a part of you dies as well
    • “And like any form of death, it would be toxic. And this toxicity would ooze out of me onto those I love. It would make me a worse father, a worse husband, a worse friend.”Brian Koppelman
  • You don’t need to quit your job to pursue a creative endeavor, all you have to do is wake up an hour earlier
    • “You’d be amazed what you can do if you get up an hour earlier”Brian Koppelman
  • Life advice:
    • Do work that you feel is meaningful and be nice to people
    • Eat well and get plenty of sleep
    • Think about your death, it will help clarify what’s important in life
      • If you realize that everything you love will be taken away one day, it makes you appreciate the things you love even more

Intro

Books Mentioned

Meditation & Morning Pages

  • Brian practices transcendental meditation for 20 minutes twice a day
    • In the book, Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity by David Lynch, David discusses how meditation enabled him to do more creative work
      • Brian meditates first thing in the day then does morning pages
        • After reading The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron 30 years ago, Brian started writing “morning pages” at the beginning of each day
          • “You’re not crafting sentences, you’re not thinking about paragraphs, all you’re doing is moving your pen across the page until you fill 3 pages” Brain Koppelman
            • A lot of people face writer’s block or what Steven Pressfield calls resistance in his book The War of Art, but writing morning pages helps overcome that

Pursue Your Creative Impulses

  • If you don’t follow your creativity and allow your creative impulses to die, a part of you dies as well
    • “And like any form of death, it would be toxic. And this toxicity would ooze out of me onto those I love. It would make me a worse father, a worse husband, a worse friend.”Brian Koppelman
      • However, as soon as you allow yourself to do creative work, all that toxicity goes away
        • “If I wanted to tell my children that they should chase their dreams then I had to or I’d be a liar” 
  • If you can release your creativity, you’ll start feeling better about life
    • “I do know that if you can somehow manifest it, you will feel better long before the world recognizes it” – Brian Koppelman
      • You don’t need to sell books to feel better; you just need to start writing
  • You don’t need to quit your job to pursue a creative endeavor, all you have to do is wake up an hour earlier
    • “You’d be amazed what you can do if you get up an hour earlier”Brian Koppelman
      • Just write 1 page a day, even if you take Sundays off, you’ll write around 310 pages in a year
        • “That many pages is a novel” 

Brian’s Writing Process

  • First, Brian finds a topic that fascinates him
    • Then, he does research to see if it’s also fascinating on a deeper level
      • After that, he’ll start to create the characters and their backgrounds
        • “You start to really think about who these characters are, what made them who they are. And then you start to think about a story structure that would bring these forces into opposition because you need conflict, sort of in every scene of a screenplay or teleplay.”  – Brian Koppelman
          • Then you need an outline for each scene 
  • There’s a writer’s room where all of the writers talk through the outlines and share notes
  • As a showrunner, you need to tell the story you want using the resources you’re given (time, budget, etc.)
    • “Our responsibility is to make a show that really works for us and our audience and really works for us financially” – Brian Koppelman
  • Brian doesn’t start writing a season of a show until he knows how it will end

Brian’s Career

  • What keeps Brian going?
    • “I made the decision while I was 30 that I was going to follow my curiosity and the things that fascinated me. And as long as I’m doing that, I feel like a version of myself that I want to spend time with.”Brian Koppelman
  • There are a lot of ups and downs in the movie business
    • One film Brian made bombed and another was canceled. In 2013, he got a call from his agent saying his career might be over.
      • Fortunately, in 2015, he started filming Billions
        • “I never take it for granted that it’s going to continue” – Brian Koppelman

Life Advice

  • Do work that you find meaningful and be nice to people
  • Eat well and get plenty of sleep
  • Think about your death, it will help clarify what’s important in life
    • If you realize that everything you love will be taken away one day, it makes you appreciate the things you love even more
      • “If you look at the great expanse of time, we’re not even a dot. The dot is already over, it’s already in the past. And so we may as well be super connected to the fact that we’re here and alive right now.” – Brian Koppelman

Additional Notes

  • Brian decided to write about hedge fund owners because he became fascinated with billionaires
    • Then match them up with US prosecutors and it’s a conflict of an immovable force meeting an immovable object
      • “We wanted to put this whole thing of power, money, and influence, and the legal system, on display so that viewers would be forced…to ask themselves where the moral culpability lies and where we are all culpable” – Brian Koppelman
  • Brian is currently reading The Second Life of Tiger Woods by Michael Bamberger
    • He plans on reading Ohio by Stephen Markley next
Knowledge Project : , , , ,
Notes By Alex Wiec

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