Don’t be put off by “personal brands”.

I met a man in the desert who was selling art.

He walked up to me and started talking about himself. He continued, hardly taking a breath, for 15 minutes. He bragged about his accomplishments, told his life story, and name-dropped all the artists he worked with. I didn’t believe a word of it.

I walked away without buying a painting. When I Googled him later, my jaw dropped. He was telling the truth. I saw photos of him with Frank Zappa and Cher. Plus, his work was incredible.

How did things go wrong for this 78-year-old man with so…

How to tell if you will make it

I’m standing in the middle of nowhere on a road trip. I’m looking at some nothing parking lot in some nothing town at some nothing gas station. Instead of feeling lonely and depressed — like I normally might — I think, “Man, thank God I can write about this.” What do you know ?— here I am doing it.

Being a writer takes all the random meaningless out of my life and puts it all under the umbrella of storytelling. Without writing, I couldn’t justify the way I exist. …

Your actual bottleneck is probably your network

My favorite writer in the world isn’t someone you know — yet.

He’s a better writer than me, and he’s for sure a better writer than most of the people making a living doing it. He makes me angry at how good he is. Besides the book Catch-22, it’s the only writing that’s made me laugh out loud.

I told him, “You are beyond skilled enough to be a writer. That is no longer your bottleneck. I think your bottleneck is your industry contacts.”

We discussed this for over two hours. We realized that we would rather spend 400 hours…

You don’t need fame or luck

We need stories like we need food. So why don’t most storytellers get paid?

Because they are writing to seem like a writer — not to solve problems.

What a writer is good for

Imagine you’re in a tribe of early humans. You know an elder whose only job is to tell stories around the campfire. The rest of the tribe happily feeds him while he sits around all day.

Feeling jealous, you decide you want to be a storyteller. Looks easy. You’re not very athletic and you want some status. You learn all the stories and the elder lets you practice telling them. …

This chart illustrates the nearly impossible task of writing a classic

You could put any piece of creative writing somewhere on this chart. The great classics would all hover around the center. Your guilty pleasures would hang out in the bottom. That movie you’re “supposed” to watch (but never will) is going to be in the upper left. That preachy book full of spiritual lessons is in the top right.

To add to the fun — the closer you get to the center, the more unstable it becomes. …

You don’t realize how deep lack goes

“If you focus on what you lack, you lose what you have. If you focus on what you have, you gain what you lack.”

Greg McKeown — you crazy for this one. Lack mindset is 90% of what keeps us from where we want to go. But 90% of my lack thoughts go unnoticed.

To change your life, notice your lack.

While I’m reading a book on my couch, my body slips into stress and worry. Will I get the things I want? Am I successful enough for my age? I can’t remember the entire last page I read… That…

To keep writing, we have to know who it’s for

My alarm went off at 6:09, blaring Let’s Go by Trick Daddy. God — I don’t want to get up. I better hurry before my neighbor gets annoyed…

I imagine you — maybe you’re a writer who’s struggling to know how to make a living. Maybe all you need to make it through the day is a little encouragement. With that in mind, I get out of bed.

Every day we don’t show up as writers somebody is worse off for it. We have a responsibility to each other to — let’s feel that more than our stats.

Stats won’t keep you going forever

I struggled…

Recapturing the scarcity that used to make art valuable

An older man has a painting he can’t wait to show you. “It’s an original Rothko. You’re going to freak out when you see it. I snagged it for 50 million dollars.”

You arrive at his modern home near the ocean. He rushes to the living room and displays his hands in front of a painting. It’s mostly…red. To you, it mostly looks like a giant canvas painted red. How is this worth 50 million dollars?

The man is smiling, like, pretty cool, right? You smile back, like, sure, man — whatever floats your boat.

People don’t buy things. People…

Be conservative early so you can be liberal later

When I have a pitch meeting for my show, I take pages and pages of notes. I rehearse exactly the lines I want to say — “If they say this, I’ll respond with X… But if they say Y, I’ll respond with Z!”

When the meeting happens, I keep the notes within arm's reach. Like an emergency floatation device, I’ve never once had to use them — but they put my mind at ease.

I let myself play. I flow into the conversation intuitively — I have the freedom to dance because I carefully constructed a dancefloor. …

Stop fiddling with success knobs

I once saw Will Ferrell in character as Ron Burgandy. He was listing the counties he could remember in San Diego to a silent crowd… for a while. Despite zero laughter, he continued as if he was absolutely killing.

Will was voted “Most Annoying SNL Cast Member.” He is loud, persistent, and sometimes only entertaining himself. So, why is he the most successful comedic actor of all time?

Being Results-Oriented Makes You Beige

If you’re making anything worthwhile — creatively, at your job, or as an entrepreneur — you’re making something that many people will hate.

That’s just the nature of the world. When you…

Taylor Foreman

Lost southern boy learning to be a well-paid storyteller in Los Angeles. Creator of The Creative Life Is Possible:

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