Monday, November 21, 2011

Putting in the Time Doesn't Always Cut It

I adore Steve Martin. There's something intellectual about him, even as he's being the biggest dork. It's as if he being dumb in an intellectual way, knowing with every joke and antic that he's owning you, in a nice way.

He's an author, you know. Before you push him aside into the pile of celebrities who publish a book by snapping a finger at a ghostwriter, think again. He's the real deal.

In the blog Study Hacks, blogger and computer scientist Cal Newport dissects what makes Steve Martin successful. That's the theme of Newport's blog - understanding how people become successful. He takes Steve Martin's history, and his book Born Standing Up, and reveals two simple, yet profound, thoughts of advice.

1. Strive to improve.
2. Focus.

The blog post goes in to greater detail, but as one who loves to pare down and condense a message, this is the gist of Martin's secret ingredients for success. It's not how long you've written, or how many times you've submitted, or how many words are in your trilogy, or even who you know.

While butt-in-chair mentality is needed to progress, if you keep writing the same old stuff, without studying for improvement, you write in circles. And if you can't focus on your main project, goal or purpose as a writer, you're wasting time.

Simply being busy isn't productive.Pick a mission. Live for it. And live to improve it each time you touch it. It's not about sweating. It's about sweating smart.

6 comments:

Kelly Robinson said...

I highly, highly recommend 'Born Standing Up.' In an era when the majority of celeb bios are ghostwritten, it's honest, beautiful, and refreshingly written by Martin himself. It's not too long either, which I only point out in an effort to get people to read it. Oh, please do!

Cheryl Barker said...

Sweating smart. Love that, Hope!

Hope Clark said...

I've read Steve Martin's fiction and thoroughly enjoyed it. It's borderline literary, but not to much so that the non-literary reader can't enjoy it.

Gdub said...

I first read The Shop Girl with some trepidation, thought it might be The Jerk goofy, or worse. Pretty good. Talented guy, musician, actor, writer. I see where several improv comedians are really good writers--al watt for one.

Sure: Focus. Improve. Stay in the room awhile.

carlos de la parra said...

Score one more for obsession.
I read the book and it was clear that he worked hard and smart.

Arlee Bird said...

I've always been a big Steve Martin fan. I loved Born Standing Up. I just wish it had been a little longer--it was such a good read.