Advice for Writers : Dan Harmon (creator of Community)

“First, you need a round hole in your chest that goes all the way through you.  I can never stress enough to the kids, it has to be a perfect circle, about the diameter of a drinking glass rim, it has to be in the absolute center of your chest – like where a heart would go on a plumber or a woman – and it has to go clean through you.  If you’re standing in front of me and I can’t see the wall behind you, you’re never really going to write much more than a dream journal, recipe book, or maybe one of those manuals that tells people what writing is.

A lot of people say “what about my heart, what’s going to pump my blood around,” which brings us to step two: you have to be made of something other than flesh and blood.  I prefer to be made of mud, because it keeps women and children away from me.  Other writers are made of dirt, or excrement, the choice is yours, it just can’t be anything that anyone would want in their bed and it has to be a substance that adheres to itself but nothing around it, so that you can keep a generally human shape for as long as possible.  Appearing human-like is important to the next step.

Sit or stand in front of paper or a computing device and turn your back to everything, which will incite it to attack you.  Everything preys on humanity and goes for the heart, so hold still, arch your back and it should shoot through your hole and onto your keyboard.  As it passes, it will be tainted and scattered by the inside rim of whatever you’re made of, which some would call your “voice” but which I call “filth.”  The more there is, the more people notice you’re “a writer” and the more you’re doing it wrong.  Your job is to be a heartless piece of dirt, a puppet, a necessary but largely unremarkable conduit of something better than you, something lovable, something with purpose, and your one redeeming act before it finishes with you is to find the angle at which you barely affect its path.

If none of this is possible, you could always become an assistant of some kind on Glee and I’m sure eventually you’d just get to write one.  Good luck!”


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