What I Learned about Writing & Revision from David Sedaris

I saw David Sedaris last night at Symphony Hall in Boston. (If you’re not familiar with his writing, check him out. He’s brilliant and hysterical.) He read from his forthcoming book Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary. The manuscript is due to his publisher in June, and he’s using his 36-city tour to help polish some of the work that will be appearing in this book. He says after a reading, he’ll go back to his hotel and revise.

How brilliant is that?

He goes to his fans (his customers) and sees what they like and how they respond. Seems to me that we marketers, business owners, copywriters, etc. can all learn from that. Now, I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who don’t like Sedaris. But he doesn’t appear concerned with pleasing them. He seems to care about pleasing his already-loyal tribe and then letting everything else happen organically (he’s also a guy who didn’t know how to send email or browse the Internet until a year ago).

I realize he’s not the first writer (or innovative thinker) to work this way, but it was a great reminder to me to stop worrying about pleasing everyone, which is impossible. And it was a reminder to test, test, test material–whether that material is a website landing page or a fable about two dogs in love.

4 replies
  1. Steve
    Steve says:

    Glad you enjoyed the show, or at least learned something from it. It’s good advice. Sometimes I read my stuff out loud–even if only the dog and cat are within earshot–particularly to test the flow of dialogue when I’m writing fiction.


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